Thursday, January 17, 2013

Book Abandonment

What's the hardest thing to do as an author?  Is it structuring sentences just right in order to evoke that perfect emotional response?  Is it in developing the perfect hook so a reader will dive into your book?  What about figuring out the ending, or whether or not you should split that long winded chapter into three smaller portions instead of two?

To me, it's none of these things.  Instead, it's abandoning work I've put my soul into.
(It's never easy to let go of one of your kids)
I've written a full novel and half of another that I've decided will never see the light of day.  What would make me do such a thing?  Why in the world would I abandon two separate works that I toiled over, for years in both cases?  It's very simple - those works didn't turn out well.

Both books were based on ideas I had as a kid(or at least as a teenager).  I envisioned entire worlds that seemed so fantastic when I was 17, but now seem trite.  One of the novels - On Freedom's Wings - wasn't finished until I was 26 years old, but the idea came into my head when I was playing a video game.  While there might be some salvageable material in there, most of it was reflective of the mind of someone much younger, where ideas and plots all seem like they came from the same Saturday morning cartoon.

But I kind of take it as a point of pride that I could abandon these works.  I realize that I can recognize when my stuff isn't up to snuff, and I have the maturity to throw it in the garbage.  Some people have read them, and they were very kind, but I can now look at the novels objectively and understand that the reaction of people who were like, "Um, well, I didn't have time...uh, I'll read more later" was only a thinly veiled attempt to spare my feelings.  It shows I can grow, both as a person and as a writer.

Still, there are times it hurts like hell.

For a little bit, I played around with maybe just tweaking things, and then, surely, they'd be ready for prime time.  After all, I put so much into writing them, there's a hollow feeling that comes with deciding not to put them out.  However, both would require so much work that I might as well start all over and re-do everything, including the basic premise and all of the characters.  Holding onto them is only a point of wounded pride.

I'm sure all writers that have eventually made it have at least one work in their drawer they feel that way about.  I'm equally as sure that a good number of failed writers do so because they won't give up on something hopeless and move onto something they might have success with.  I don't want this to come across as saying anyone should quit, but you have to understand when you have other outlets to success.

Still, there are quiet nights after my family is asleep where I'll pull out one of those old novels, read parts of it, cringe, and think, "Well, maybe I can give it another go."  In the light of day, I understand just how that sounds and I do move on, but that doesn't mean I abandon my fantasies...just my books that aren't the best.

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