Sunday, November 11, 2012

Letting the Voice Win

We've all had moments like I had yesterday, where we're chock full of self-doubt.  Sometimes the voice in our heads is just - as Janet put it - upping its game.  Sometimes its just being a buttwart and needs to be pushed past - like Silver suggested.

I spent yesterday on the couch - watching football and thinking (and not-thinking while everything just simmered in my subconscious).  Here's what I came up with.

This book is a bitch.  And other than the glorious period of first drafting - when I'm too close to see the flaws - it's always been a bitch.  Every time I sit down to try and edit the damn thing, I end up feeling like I've just tried to bathe ten Max the cat clones at the same time.  (For those of you who missed it, Max hates baths and by the end of each, my arms are shredded and punctured.)  But I keep going back to this manuscript.  Good ol' masochist me.  I just knew if I kept at it, I could win the fight.

But what if I can't?

I know several of you are about to throttle me.  That's okay.  I probably deserve to be throttled.  But not necessarily for the reasons you might think.

Ever know one of those people who gets into a bad relationship and they can't really see how bad it is?  The ones who may at some point manage to wriggle their way out only to wind up back with the same totally unsuitable significant other time and again?  They want to make it work.  They know if only they try hard enough, they can get the other person to be what they want to be.  They insist they love this person who's totally bad for them.  "I can change them, I know I can."  Or, heaven forbid, they end up changing themselves so whatever problems they had no longer matter - which is worse.

Not this time, Sweets.  Sometimes things like this are meant to die.  Sometimes the little voice in the back of your head telling you this won't work is right. 

Don't get me wrong.  The little voice of self-doubt rears up at some point during every book.  Most times, I let it have its way for a little while and then kick its lily-white ass.  This time, though, while preparing to throttle the crap out of the annoying liar, I realized the reason I can't make this one shut the hell up this time is - regardless of how wrong it is in some aspects - it's totally right.  This is not a book I can finish - not now and maybe not ever. 

And that's fine.  Sometimes you have to know when to stop fighting.

Don't worry, though.  I'm not sad.  I'm not even all that hurt.  Like dating, there are other fish in the sea.  There are other books in my head and on my hard drive - each one waiting for its shot to become a real book.  I'll take all of the minutiae from this, stuff it into a box and cram it into a closet.  Get it out of here before I'm tempted to try another go of it.

Maybe instead of this book, it's finally time to finish Rue's story.  She's waited long enough for her shot at greatness.  And, you know what?  So have I.


  1. I can totally relate to what you're feeling, B.E. It's not in me to give up on something. In fact, I can't begin my next novel until the first is completed. It's a compulsion, I know, but that's not such a bad thing. Without this personality flaw I wouldn't have gotten this far in my WIP.

    I understand the reason you want to tuck the book away. However, before doing so, I'd like to offer a piece of advice (Yes, I know, the worst advice is unsolicited advice). Post the work on Scribophile. It's a free online writer's site that's been instrumental in helping to improve my craft. If you need help with ideas the writer's on the site are very helpful. Best of luck with your WIP.

  2. Oh, I can sympathize... boy can I. *great big hug*

    I hope your gut leads you in the right direction.

  3. I'm not sure what the best answer is, but you should probably go with your gut if you're sure it's not just ego/self-doubt bullshit. It's not like you have to ever decide you're shelving it permanently. You can always pull it back out 1, 2, 10 years from now. Work on something that makes you happy :)