Writing my way out
When what you want isn't what you need
I started this month with every intention of finishing TSATS. I was going to put pedal to the metal. I was going to burn the midnight oil. I was going to make revision my entire personality for 31 days, and then, assuming all went according to plan, I would be done. Done! The book of my heart finished after two years. What a relief, I thought, to be done with this thing I’d been wrestling with for so very long.
Then my brain decided to go into panic mode.
I won’t go into the nitty, gritty details, because that’s not fun for anyone. Suffice it to say that I spent over a week doubting every decision I’d ever made. It took me days to recover, and even now, I’m still not entirely ~with it.
I’ve been writing and rewriting this post for an hour, because I don’t have the words for it. How do you tell the world you shelved something you’d been working on for years? How do you explain everything that went into the decision, the angst and the grief and the mind-numbing relief? How do you say any of these things without feeling like a failure?
Here’s where I’ll start: People shelve books for different reasons. Sometimes you outgrow a project. Sometimes you can’t get it to work, no matter how much love and effort and money you pour into a manuscript. Sometimes you write a book that agents can’t sell. Sometimes you just need a break. But me?
I shelved TSATS because I loved it.
I won’t go into the nitty, gritty details. Suffice it to say that, as much as I loved TSATS, I wasn’t ready to publish it. It’s the best thing I’ve ever made. It’s also extremely personal. It’s a memoir disguised as an adult space fantasy dark romance horror novel, and I love it, I love it, but I’m not ready to publicly claim it. Does that make sense? There’s me, and then there’s me, and I’m not ready for those to converge in such a way that people I’ve never met feel justified in making moral judgments on my worth as a human being.
Working on TSATS has been an emotional rollercoaster from the beginning. At first, I thought it was self-doubt manifesting as procrastination, but now I see the truth of it. I was self-sabotaging, not because I didn’t believe in myself but because I knew the risks. I knew how hard it would be for me to publish this book, and more importantly, I knew I wasn’t ready.
It’s bittersweet, isn’t it? Doing something you know is right even though it hurts. We talk about success stories. Seeing something through to the end, because in the persistence is devotion, and in the devotion is magic. We don’t talk about giving up on something you love — something you know would benefit your career — for your own well-being.
It’s not forever, though. I’ll come back to TSATS someday, when I'm ready. In the meantime, I’ll look to new stories, new characters with new wounds that, in another world, would mirror my own.
I’ll keep my eyes on the page and write my way out.
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