Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Time to Cut the Apron Strings


One of the mantras in writing is to never give up. The persistent are the ones who achieve the most success if for any other reason because they are the ones still standing. That being said, sometimes I think there is a time to give up. Never on the writing, on the book.

All too often I hear writers talk about a book of the heart. The one no is ready to let go of, the one the author can't stop writing. One year goes by, two years go by, three years. The book is still the only book on the computer. Let it go!

We call our books our babies and whether we like it or not, babies grow up and leave the nest. Your book must also leave the nest. But how do you know? How do you know that your book is ready to go off into the great wide world with only what you've taught her? You know. Trust me, you know. Or if you don't you just have to make the decision that its time.

The minute you start submitting and querying your baby you've let go. Now you have to trust that you've put everything you have into her and it's her turn to shine. For you, it's time to go back to the drawing board and start working on getting that next baby ready for the world. 

When you find yourself running in circles, constantly tweaking and editing the same chapter, the same book, it's time to walk away. Maybe your first baby will never leave the nest forever, but we all learn from our mistakes and the best way to put what we have learned into use is to start on something new.

--jhf

6 comments:

Artemis Grey said...

THIS. I am here on my most recent book. Not saying it won't suddenly bring in an offer of representation, or a contract, but I won't be taking it back out of the stable to query again. It's had it's day in that arena. Maybe in the future, it will get sold, but it's looking like it won't be the first one to get sold.

RobynBradley said...

And sometimes you have to cut the apron strings on works-in-progress that just aren't coming together for whatever reason. That can be even harder since it's easy to rationalize, "Well, it's still a draft" or "I can fix this." A writer who can recognize when it's not working and let go and start something else...that's an important milestone (and one many struggling writers never reach).

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

Is there a point where you should give up on querying a book?

Kim Lionetti said...

Amen

Hollie Sessoms said...

I love this. Years ago I was whining to a writing mentor about the lack of success I was having querying my novel. He shrugged and said, “Write another book.” It angered me initially that he was so callous, wanting me to give up on something I had worked on so hard, but like all good advice it sank into me. I remembered that I was a writer, not just a writer to that one particular novel. I had more stories inside of me and I would never get those other stories out if I was hung up on one.

Claude Nougat said...

Excellent advice and surely one of the hardest to heed! For an artist, a work of art is never finished: Monet famously went to the museum with his brushes and paints, and much to the amazement of the public and guards, retouched his paintings, adding a dab of color here, another one there...

Still, you're right, one should know when to stop...We are not all Monet!