Journal, Writing

Selling the Horse, and Other Weekly Notes

So last week was a bit of a rough week. I don’t know what it was–blame the moon, blame the rain, blame anything–but it seemed as though everyone I spoke to had the same experience: last week just… sucked.

In my case, I blame last weekend, during which I got absolutely nothing useful done, wasted lots of time, and at the end of it was no better prepared for the week than if I hadn’t had a weekend at all. There were definitely some perks, however, which I will break down below in bullet-point summary:

+ Hanging with Kaku and Kayla for pizza on Saturday, which involved Guesstures and plenty of whiskey, which just made it funnier.
+ Attended (albeit late) the Robin Hobb reading at Cedar Hills Crossing! (Note to self: Googlemaps does not know where Cedar Crossings is.)
+ Got a working laser printer! (Math: [1 defunct laser printer * (1 estate sale + 1 replacement cartridge)]/ [1 craigslist laser printer – 1 hour driving] = working laser printer! :-D)
+ Dinner with writing pals on Tuesday, at long last! :-D

Other than that, though the weekend wasn’t terribly productive, which I think dragged me down the rest of the week. Plus there was the added bonus of cat pee, no groceries, bad weather, the grumpies, bad traffic, messy apartment, no clean clothes, and a general disinterest in being productive what. so. ever.

But the overarching theme of this week was the decision to “sell the horse.” I won’t recap the old proverb here, but needless to say, it sums up to letting go of something that is unwittingly holding you back, even when it seems like that thing is the only thing keeping you going. In this case, for me, it boils down to the untitled novel project. For those familiar with it, you may know it as Dark Matter, or simply “Marha’s Story.”

I’m letting it go.

Let me explain a little of the background here: Back in my freshman year of high school, shortly after reading Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, I created my first-ever science fiction story. It was going to be a novel (or three). For the past ten years (yes, TEN YEARS, I counted them last week) I’ve been trying to get this story to work. The problem is this: the original idea I came up with was horribly cliche and not very logical. While this worked fine back when I was just starting out writing, it’s become a thorn in my side as I struggle to hold onto what made it so fun in the beginning, while trying to force it into a logical box that it simply wasn’t designed for. I’ve fought and I’ve fought to hang onto this one, determined that it would be the first novel I ever wrote, and I think just this last week, I realized that I may be beating a dead horse.

I love the characters, but they don’t fit into any story I could write now. I love some of the science fiction elements, but they don’t function well all together. I think I’ve grown and changed a lot from the writer who started this story, and unfortunately, I don’t think I can write the story it was meant to be in all of its cliche, illogical, fan-frigging-tastic glory. It was a story created by and written for a young high school girl who was trying to figure herself out before ever deciding to pursue writing seriously. The graduated, married, published girl working in the industry just can’t quite go back to that blissful innocence.

So I’m selling the horse. I’m letting this one go. It was a really hard decision after investing so much time and energy into it’s morphing development, but at this point, it’s turned into the dreaded creative black hole, and I’ve got to move on. It’s sort of like pulling the plug on your best friend whose been in a coma for the past ten years, with no signs of recovery. You want it to work out. You’ve been counting on it working out. But at some point, you have to realize that maybe she doesn’t want to keep living like this. Maybe something better can come out of letting go.

Making the decision taught me something right off the bat: I’ve been hanging onto this novel like a security blanket. As long as it wasn’t finished, I didn’t let myself even think about working on any other novel-length projects.  It was easy, since I’d envisioned a three-tome trilogy that would take years to finish. Now that the wall has been removed, I’m suddenly faced with the somewhat terrifying challenge of taking my writing career more seriously. It’s scary, but it’s exciting, too. I can pick a new novel project that I’ve never let myself delve into before, one that I can write right now and get on paper successfully. I can spend the time I didn’t allow myself on more short fiction, focusing on craft and style in a way I couldn’t when trying to resurrect a very old, very tired story.

I can’t deny it: I’m hoping that in twenty or thirty years I’ll be able to reexamine the story–perhaps with the added perspective of being a parent of a kid the same age as I was when I conceived the idea–and turn it into something these dear characters of mine could thrive in. But for now, I’m going to let it go.

2 thoughts on “Selling the Horse, and Other Weekly Notes”

  1. Hey!

    Don’t know about the rest of the world, but in The Netherlands writers talk about their oerboek (to pronounce oohr-book, with 2x the oo-sound as in wood). It’s the first novel you try to write, which you cannot finish for some reason or other. But it’s a treasure trove of future themes, character traits and energetic ideas.
    Oer means something like ‘original’ or ‘primeval’ and it’s the book that had to say ALL: all you stand for, all you love. Impossible to achieve really, but when you get large chunks of it down it could really help you in the future. If: you’re willing to let it go, let it be (just what it is: a miasma of possibilities).

    Which you just did, and with an elegant psychological analysis as well. Bravo, a brave decision. Two stars! ;)

    1. I love that! That’s the coolest thing I think I’ve ever heard, and it sure fits with the way I’ve been feeling. I particularly understand the sensation of: “Oer means something like ‘original’ or ‘primeval’ and it’s the book that had to say ALL: all you stand for, all you love.”–that’s so what this novel is/was. I can’t wait for those possibilities to evolve in other stories! :-D It’s like my own personal primodial soup!

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