Good Morning, Folks! I stand (sit) before you (on your monitors) today to ask a question. Or two. About writing. Specifically, when to admit that you are getting nowhere with your latest WIP.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t have the proverbial writer’s block, and I never have had it. Yet. What I have is a bit more insidious in some ways. This is how it’s all been playing out. When I finished the third book in my Wake-Robin Ridge series, I ended on a note that would work if there were no more books forthcoming for Rabbit and his family. I left the ending open so I could write more if I decided to, but I really didn’t plan to. I wrapped things up in a way that gave readers a pretty good idea of what was waiting for the Cole family in the years ahead, then moved on to the 3rd book in my Riverbend series, which I intend to continue for some while, yet. And following that book, That Darkest Place, I wrote The Emissary, my first novella, as a spinoff of the Riverbend books.
During the interim, I began to get requests for more stories about Rabbit. Lots of them. Okay, then. I figured if that’s what readers wanted, I’d write a 4th book, and I got started on WRR4–about two days before we were slammed by a tornado spawned by Hurricane Irma. Many of you know that normal life around our house came to a screeching halt at that point. We spent more than six months dealing with every headache you can imagine. Weeks of carpenters hammering, electricians cutting the power, and roofers stomping around overhead. And that doesn’t include all the frustrating calls to the insurance company, inspectors, and the like .
I tried to keep writing, really I did. But I don’t work well with non-stop interruptions and headaches of every kind for months on end. Suffice it to say that try as I might, I fell farther and farther behind on my book. I also felt less and less joy in the process of writing, something I’d never had happen before. The end result was that even though I have what I think is a pretty good story to tell, I completely lost my enthusiasm for working on this one. I was plodding through the draft without a shred of joy in my storytelling.
So, I took a few weeks off and reassessed, thinking maybe I should just scrap the whole book and move on with my next Riverbend story. My beta readers (who follow along with my draft, chapter by chapter, and keep me on my toes) weren’t happy with that idea at all. They seem to like what I’ve done so far, so I thought about it some more.
My final decision was to shelve WRR4 for a couple of months and write a second novella in my Emissary spinoff series. The first one was the most fun of anything I’ve written to date and only took me 2 months to go from draft to published. Seemed like a perfect fit, so that’s where I am. I’m starting on The Emissary 2 and after it’s published, will take a look at WRR4 again. Hopefully, taking a break for a couple of months will let me get back to work on it with fresh eyes and a joyful approach to finishing the tale. It has good bones, I think, so that’s what I’d like to do.
My question for you guys (you knew I’d get back to it, didn’t you?) is this: was shelving this book for a couple of months a better plan than just scrapping it? Have you ever come back to a book after taking a break to write something else, and found you were able to finish it? What about the ones you may have scrapped completely? Do their ghosts haunt you in the dark of night?
Inquiring minds wanna know. Hope you’ll take a minute and share your thoughts. THANKS!