Why I Scrapped My Novels and Why I’m Okay With That

I now once again have a blog that I can devote entirely to my love of writing and literary things. Oh how I’ve missed it! It took longer than I had hoped just because there were so many kinks to work out. But I’m here now, and that’s what matters.

I’ve decided to initiate this blog using a piece that I previously posted on my Facebook page:

 

I began writing my first novel at 17. It was a young adult book with a topic I felt very passionately about, and I poured my heart and soul into this piece. When I finished writing it last year, I felt like I was on top of the world. I actually wrote a novel. Granted, it needed a lot of work, but a first draft was better than no draft. I began the second book in the series, thinking that I needed to take a few months off from the first book before I went back and started on edits. I had planned for book #1 to be the first book in a trilogy.

I was halfway through writing the second book when I came to a realization: I had started book 1 when I was 17. I was now 21. My writing style, my voice, my outlook on life…they had changed completely. The things that mattered to me at 17 no longer fit with what I wanted to express in this story. The writing process came to a halt.

I was panicking. Did I do all of that work for nothing? I needed advice. Thankfully, I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by wonderful poets and fiction writers on a daily basis. So I ran to Mike, a good friend and poet who doubles as my reader. He’s the friend who will honestly tell me if the story I just finished sucks, and I appreciate his never-ending list of suggestions. I explained to him my predicament, and his reply to me was, “You’re hiding behind a 17 year-old. Don’t be afraid to tell the story you really want to tell, because right now it doesn’t sound like you’re doing that. Scrap and start over.”

And he’s right. In retrospect, that jumbled mess of a first draft wasn’t saying exactly what I wanted to say. I was afraid to write about my feelings back then, back when the slightest amount of criticism would send me running to the nearest cave to live out the rest of my days safe and alone. I have matured into a more confident person since then and have learned to accept myself and my mistakes for what they are. I no longer cared what people thought of my experiences and viewpoints. I  realized there was no salvaging these novels. They had become a jail cell.

Of course, that’s not to say that I’ve erased those manuscripts. They’re a part of my history, my journey to becoming the writer I hope to be one day. They have been printed and lovingly placed in a drawer. I will always hold onto them and will look back at them one day to see how far I’ve come. I will always be learning new things as a writer. This particular experience has shown me that sometimes you just need to let go, because not every brilliant idea is going to work out.

Maybe one day I’ll come back to these manuscripts. If not, that’s okay too. Letting go of 17 year-old me was hard, but I think she would be proud of my decision.

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