Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Onward and Upward (aka, I am not a quitter)

Out of all the people in my life, the one whose opinion of me matters most is my husband. I'm not a criminal or anything, but I rely on him to be my moral compass. He gives it to me straight when he thinks I'm acting poorly, or making a bad choice. He's not perfect himself, but he's got a strong streak of the Dudley Do-right, and strong opinions that he will not hesitate to share (hey, he's Mediterranean).

For all his virtuous inclinations, I have never met someone with worse luck. I'm not talking bad luck at the craps table (although that may or may not have been the case last weekend). I'm talking eleven years of watching a brilliant, hard-working guy get kicked in the teeth by Misfortune, over and over and over. Like the second year we lived together, when during a three-month span he: 1) landed in the hospital with hepatitis A, 2) recovered well enough to rejoin his beloved rugby team, whereupon he immediately shattered his collarbone requiring a plate and four screws, and 3) struggled through the pain (no painkillers, because of the previous liver damage) to finish his exams and get his diploma so that he could go to the US with me to start grad school, only 4) then he got his rejection letter in the mail from Stanford.

And that's nothing compared to the year he lived through last year, which I won't go into because some of that is still ongoing. Just imagine horrible heaped on top of horrible. But I will tell you that he recovered from the hep, collarbone and rejection, came to the US with me anyway, and got into Stanford on his second try. Now he has a very successful, if rather high pressure career, and everything he achieved, he's gotten on the merit of sheer persistence. This man received zero help from Old Man Lady Luck.

So this morning my husband sat down with me and said, 'I'm worried about you. You worked so hard on this story, and now you're going to throw it all away because of a stupid piece of bad luck.' This did not sound as sweet as it looks on the screen. In fact it sounded pretty annoying to me, She who does not like to be told what to do. But...he has a point.

If you've been reading my posts for the past two weeks, you've seen me flip-flop on where I'm going at this point. The siren song of the shiny new idea has been damn near impossible to resist. The passion I've felt for my YA-but-more-likely-upper-MG adventure story got a little squashed, despite my declarations to do it up better than ever.

But to set it aside without finishing it? Without querying it? I know that most writers draft several books before they write the one that gets them to the next level, but shouldn't I at least try with this one? If my husband had let bad luck stop him, he'd probably be slogging away at some mid-level job in Darmstadt instead of launching rockets into space. And if I've learned anything from him, it's that persistence really does pay off in the end.

So, that's my decision. Finish the rewrites, give it all a whirl, and then I can get back to that shiny new idea, which I may or may not have already written several chapters of. Sorry for all the wishy-washyness--this has been quite the unexpected speed bump. And now, back to our regular programming.

Here we go again...


  1. I've been going through something very similar! I think you made a great decision to stick it out and give it a try. The shiny new idea will still be there. Good luck!

  2. I think your decision is the right one. Finish this project before going on to the next one. For several reasons.

    1) Querying is tough. You need to develop thick skin and the more you believe in your work the harder it is to be rejected on it.

    2) It's all practice. You need to practice finishing a story as well as beginning one. The more practice you get now the better your next book will turn out.

    3) You just never know. Maybe your first book will be the one to get you published and your second book will have an easier ride on the back of your previous work.

    I'm on my second novel right now, the first one came close to landing a few agents but nothing quite worked out. I wanted to start book #2 mid way through the query process but I stuck with the first one and I have to say the second is a lot better for the experience.

  3. If you stop working on your current WIP, it shouldn't be because of bad luck. It should be because you know innately that this isn't THE ONE. Even then, you should at least finish it. You never know - it may not be your first book, but it may be one of your best. Keep at it, and break a leg! (I'm doing the theater thing of avoiding 'good luck')

  4. I am a big fan of seeing things through. But I also think it's important to stay fresh and passionate. Maybe I'm an oddity, but I worked for a few years (off and on) on my first story. I got stuck and eventually was so sick of looking at it that I walked away completely. Then, a few months ago, I started a shiny new idea (and I also may or may not have written a few chapters). Which lead to me picking back up my old story, and finally finishing the first draft yesterday!

    If it's meant to be, you can always go back (either to the first story or to the shiny new idea, whichever gets tabled).

  5. Good for you! I know it will be tough, but it will be an awesome experience.

  6. Oh, I know exactly what you mean. If I have to look at my first chapter one more time...

    But I have decided the same thing. I need to finish! I need to query! It's a real slog at the moment but I know that what I really need to work on isn't the drafting or the planning, it's the polishing.

    I just registered for SCBWI in August as well AND SURELY WE WILL BOTH BE DONE BY THEN!

  7. The shiny new idea tempts me a lot too. It's natural, I think during final revisions and before querying. Keep at it though! :)

  8. Shiny New Idea will be waiting for you. Finish the project up and then we'll feel GREAT. Or take a break. Breaks can do WONDERS. But don't give up on it!

  9. Good luck with the revisions. Those shiny ideas are mighty tempting. New follower - thanks for stopping by my blog today.

    Also have family in the UP and my mom is a yooper too!

  10. The blog is very good!

  11. I went through the exact same thing with my most recently finished novel. Except mine was finished and through several rewrites when I was just ready to toss it under the bed without querying. But I decided to query. It's good to put yourself out there, make connections, and develop thick skin. And the querying part is just another part of the learning process. From querying my first story, I learned to personalize, to do a lot of research. And I learned who might be interested in my stuff.

    Go for it! And good luck!

  12. This is a writer rite of passage. Glad to hear you're sticking with it but so you know, there's no shame in tucking it away.