Note: Sometimes I want to say more than I can manage in one column a week, so you get a bonus double-feature! Also, I promise that we’re going to stop stringing out this analogy.
Last week I took my own advice and wrote a love letter to the story I’d been working on for the last few weeks. I tried it three times, and I had a painful realization–my heart and passion wasn’t there. Even my love letter felt like rote chore. I still find the concept intriguing, but somewhere along the way the excitement of the story has faded away or I lost it completely.
After a couple of days of denial, I decided to try writing a love letter for a story I haven’t worked on since November (mostly cast aside when the holiday madness swept through). In this letter, I felt the passion. I got excited. The grass was a beautiful and lush green on the other side of the fence, and I wanted to play in it.
I know, I know. Discipline! Sometimes, though, discipline isn’t discipline at all. It’s a chore-based motivation that we mistakenly flog ourselves about. I have a few novel-length works that I wrote simply as a chore. The passion was long gone–and it shows. I’ve learned not to do that anymore, but I’m not always fast to recognize it.
(I think that’s another post for another day.)
Sometimes we’re just procrastinating or scared. Sometimes the story just isn’t as relevant to us as it used to be when we originally conceived it. Sometimes we need to take a break, and that break might be a short one or a long one. This isn’t something quite as extreme as a genre change, just a story change.
I know I’ll come back to Ghosts. It’s been haunting me on and off for years. We’re just not in a place right now where we can give one another the attention we deserve, and those things that bring me back to the story every few months will resurface again.
Breaking up with your story is difficult decision (and a huge topic I’ll probably revisit a few times as this blog continues), but the biggest things to weigh in is your motivation for continuing or not continuing on a story. My love letter showed me the love isn’t there right now and I’m under no obligation to write the story, so I’m going to move on.