Monday, September 25, 2006

Letting go and Holding on

The TOD (Topic of the Day) is When to Let Go...and When to Hold on.

I'm sure most of us have been through this, be it regarding an old boyfriend, a bad job, or even a work-in-progress novel. The question is, when something in your life is going south and fast...do you hold on, or let go?

Let's have some examples:

  • You've been working for Company A for 3 years. The first year was great, you loved your projects. you made tons of money on stock options, you got promoted, you got a raise, you got an office, you got Fridays off in the summer...an overall beautiful job. The second year, eh...you didn't get promoted, you work started to feel mundane, you didn't feel as if you were moving anywhere but you love your co-workers and you believe the company can come back. The third year rolls around. You hear this year will be much like the previous. You work won't change, you're probably not going to get a lot of recognization, probably no raise either...what do you do? Stay? Or find a new home elsewhere?

  • You've been dating Cute Tom for a year. You're past the lovey-dovey phase and are at the comfortable phase. You've met each other's parents, hang with each other's friends, people are starting to refer to you as the old married couple. Normally this would be great and all, but Cute Tom has seriously started to take you for granted. You never spend any time together alone. If its a choice between just the two of you and you and all your friends, he always chooses the whole crowd. You always do what HE wants to do. If he wants to go shoot pool on a Sunday night till 2 am, you'll do it, even though you need to be awake at 5 am the next day. If you want to plan your evening, he throws a fit and says he wants to go drink with his friends instead of being with you. He is always late, he contradicts you in public and you can't remember the last time just the two of you went out and had a good time without a gang of friends around. It's always him, him, him. Every sensible part of you is saying LEAVE! But Cute Tom used to be an amazing guy. The best relationship you ever had. The one you thought was THE ONE. He was once your best friend and the person you had the best time with. You've tried talking to him, he swears to change, he swears he loves you and wants nothing more than to see this work...but you aren't seeing any change. What do you do? Leave? Stay?

Now, I have not been in these situations, but I have been at a job that was just at a stalemate with no end in sight and similarly a relationship. In the past, I've always been too paralyzed to move on. Fear of the unknown and all that.

I find myself in that position now when it comes to my old novels. I love those plots and ideas. I believe those were good books which just need a bit of work. But re-writing is just so exhausting in this market where women's fiction/teen-lit has to be fresh, fresh, fresh.

So I need to make a decision. Go back and fix the books I love? Or start over again?

Hold on? Or Move on? That is the question.

5 comments:

Tera Lynn Childs said...

I have a hard time letting go of old books, too--as my agent can daily attest. My first manuscript was a finalist in the Golden Heart... and went nowhere. So, I turned to chick lit (at a time that it was really hot and sounded like so much fun) and though my two chick lits have finaled in many contests, they never really clicked with editor judges. Then, I came up with this YA idea--totally wacky and a blast to write. I finished it, queried it, got an agent, and ultimately sold it.

My point is that, although those earlier books may have been good, their value to me was the experience. By writing those three manuscripts I: proved to myself that I could do it, learned my personal writing process, and uncovered my voice. For those reasons, I will always be grateful--even if they stay forever in that dusty box under the bed.

TinaFerraro said...

Dona, can I vote "both"? What I tend to do when a project isn't working or isn't getting the response I'm hoping for is to put on the back burner. I have a special file for just such projects. Yes, I move on, but know I can go back any time the mood strikes.

To be fair, most of the time, I don't return. I'm a "NEXT UP!" kinda gal. But who knows what ideas tomorrow may bring, and I might finally find the fairy dust to bring those projects back to life. And I'll know just where to find them.

stephhale said...

Dona~

What's that song I used to sing in Brownies? Oh, yeah...
Make new friends,
but keep the old,
one is silver,
and the others gold.

Yes, I am completely lame. But I say move on and make friends with new characters and their stories. Someday you will probably integrate your old characters and storylines into new works. So it won't have been wasted friendships.

Marley Gibson said...

I'm with Tera, Dona. Those first children are wonderful...we took a long time birthing them, crafting them, sending them out into the world to be judged. But, I know (personally) that I have to let go of those old stories. They were not a waste at all, though. They got me my first agent. They allowed me to enter contests. They helped me learn how to write and critique. And, they helped me into the writer I am today.

Focus now on that fresh story that's going to get you sold and then when you get that editor who loves your voice and asks, "what else do you have?" you can go back to the arsenal and WHO KNOWS what will happen!!

Marley = )

Heather Davis Koenig said...

These ladies said it all, Dona. You are the writer you are now because of those earlier books. That doesn't mean you "owe" them anything. You know?

Maybe someday you'll know just how to make them pop, but for now, find the story you're most passionate about and work on that.