Sometimes You Gotta Let It Go



Sometimes you just gotta let some of your writing go.
One of the projects I worked on this past twelve months was my version of a Hunger Games trilogy. So yes, I know what some of you are thinking. Jumping on the bandwagon. Oh so derivative. Once again copying because he has no original ideas.

Here’s the thing—there are reasons why I came up with this idea and loved it. Maybe I’ll share them one day. But it’s the same reason I wrote and self-published my love story called Every Breath You Take. There was a story I kept thinking about and I wanted to tell it. So I put it in the box of The Hunger Games. Though this version would be Thrasherized, which meant an interesting version written by a Christian author who’s trying to be mainstream but can’t quite make it that way.

So I planned. I outlined. I story-mapped. I created characters. I came up with titles. I came up with a series title and subsequent novel names.

Then I began to write. I wrote. I wrote more. I rewrote. I scrapped some and wrote more.

I spoke to two significant publishers about this series idea. Both were interested.

I worked on a proposal and included pages. Meantime I ended up writing about 20,000 words.

Most novels are around 100,000 words. Most YA novels (which I was going for) are shorter.

So yeah, I was well on my way.

Like I said, I spoke to publishers about this. Thought long and hard. Reworked it. Worked on it more.

And then . . . .

Then I let it go.

Here’s the reason. My heart was just not in it.

Now some of you might think, with all the novels I’ve been publishing, I’ve been like this little James Patterson-wannabe churning out novels for the Christian market. But it’s not true.

Every one of the books I’ve ever worked on—every single one—has been told with my heart and soul at the forefront. I’ve never dialed it in. Sure, the writing might have been subpar and the storyline might have suffered but I’ve always given each story my all.

But with this Hunger Games-esque series, I didn’t feel it. It felt fine. Everything was . . . fine. But I don’t go for fine.

The Solitary Tales aren’t fine.

Sky Blue wasn’t fine.

Isolation wasn’t fine.

All of those are pieces of me. Flawed and broken but still beating with a racing heart.

So 20,000 words into this project and countless hours, I shelved it. It’s done.

I might use some of the characters. I really grew to like them. I might use some of the scenarios and ideas. But the story as I wanted to tell it is done.

My point in saying all of this is to encourage you to sometimes—if you absolutely have to—shelve your story.

Some people work on something and beat it up until it’s black and blue. They write and rewrite and rework and redo. But sometimes they’re just literally beating a dead horse.

It takes a lot of strength and willpower to get back up on a horse. But to get back up on a different horse, knowing the last one has gone on to meet its maker.

They’re just words. I’ve said that before. So what if you’ve invested countless hours? It’s just practice. They’re just words and it’s okay if the world never sees them. Don’t let that stop you. Don’t let that hold you back.

There are stories I don’t want to give up. No way I’ll give them up. There are a few that I’m going to let the public see, one way or the other. No doubt. But I’ve been doing this thing for a while. I’ve seen over 20-something novels see light of day.

Still, I can look at a project and let it go.

Sometimes, you simply gotta say enough. Sometimes, you simply have to let go and start over. It’s okay. I do that over and over and over again.

God knows I’m trying to earn money at this writing thing. God knows I need money. But there’s no way I’m going to throw something out there simply to publish a book.

These collaborations—my heart and soul are in them. Look at Paper Angels with Jimmy Wayne. Remember the idiot character in the story about to have twins and freaking out? Hmmmmm. I don’t know but he sure sounds familiar.

Every one has had my heart and soul. Warts and all. None of them are perfect, but they all have me. They all that chunk of my life that I want them to.

I have more coming. Lots more, God willing. Don’t think I’m just writing to please contracts. I’m trying to push myself. I’m trying to plunge to the depths. I’m still an amateur trying to perfect a master’s craft. I’m still just learning. But I’m giving it my all. I’m bleeding and struggling and suffering. Okay, that’s a bit dramatic, but somedays it sure feels that way.

So far, I’ve never done a book where my heart hasn’t been in it. Never. Not even that God-awful ghostwriting project I got. I put everything in it I could and I even did it on my own terms. I grit my teeth and shut my mouth and do my work and give it my all.

So yeah, publishing takes a long time. Yeah, I’ve heard it all before and I know because I worked 13.5 years in it and realize that sometimes, publishing is all about hedging your bets. It’s all about bluffing and buying time. It’s all about hesitating and getting lucky. It’s Las Vegas baby and what happens in publishing stays in publishing. I know all that and I still gotta do the work I do because I have this little family to support.

But at no time have I dialed it in and at no time have I done it for the money. Look at my lotsa-everything brand. Think that’s all about trying to sign a contract and make some money? Yeah, right. At least I would’ve stuck in one genre.

I’ve typed a storm away tonight. Sorry about that. Sometimes, you gotta let things go. That’s my point. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again. Regardless of what happens and regardless of what point I’m at in my career.

I’m lucky to be a full-time writer. But I also work my butt off. I also think I’m an average writer trying and hoping and striving to get better. But I can type like the wind and I got my heart and soul in the middle of my fingertips and I’d rather be a comma than a full stop.

I end on that note. Both with a wink to Coldplay and a nod to my Hunger Games trilogy I called The Paradise Trilogy. It’s gone. But I’m not. I’ll never be as long as I’m breathing and have half a mind in my dense skull. And oh yeah—it’s dense. Just like Rocky baby.

Gonna fly now. Just wait and see. 

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