Where did I go wrong? The musings of a frustrated author…

So I’ve been beating my head against a brick wall over my latest work-in-progress since November. I started it for NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month) got to the 42,000 word mark and realized I couldn’t make it any further. I kid you not, I could have written 8,000 more words of crap and finished the 50,000 word novel but I realized what I was writing would never be publishable. Ever.

So I started over.

It takes a lot to throw out almost 40,000 words of hard work, even if you know it’s crap. I did it. I started a rewrite. I made it almost to 50,000 words and hit the same roadblock. This time I threw out about half of it. Started again. A few days ago, I thought I’d figured out where it went wrong, cut out some of the scenes, rewrote some. It’s better now, and I think I can keep plugging along, but damn. It’s hard. I’m starting to wonder if I’m beating my head against a brick wall for no reason. My editor at Carina Press says I’ll have her line edits in a few days. Maybe I should just wait, get myself into editing mode. Maybe I should work on the second edition of WEEDS AND FLOWERS.

I decided to pull out a novel I finished a few months ago. I love this novel. I tentatively titled it DUCKS IN A ROW, and it’s about twin sisters, Cady and Cam, who are experiencing completely different problems in their lives but find the answers to them together. I read it. It’s got some problems and it needs a little TLC, but to be honest, I couldn’t actually believe that story came out of me after all the problems I’ve had with my current work-in-progress. It’s one of those stories where I’m pretty sure those characters actually came to life and told me their story.

Like my other novels, I feel like this one has magic in it.

So what to do? Put away my current w-i-p and all the blood, sweat and tears I’ve put in it? Start a new story? Get this old story ready to go and put it out there to be accepted or rejected as the publishing world sees fit? I think I’ve made up my mind. I’m happiest when I’m writing, but I’ve been through this before, too. Sometimes you just have to accept that the story you want to tell isn’t going to work no matter how much life you try to breathe into it. I’m hoping this one is just comatose and might wake up one day.

Excerpt from DUCKS IN A ROW:

“We’re not having an affair.” Cady glanced over her shoulder, keeping her voice low as her sister cleared the table.

“What would you call it?” When Cady didn’t answer, Cam set the plates she’d brought into the kitchen aside and faced her. “Did you kiss him?”

“It wasn’t like that.” Cady bit her lip. “I mean, yes, but—”

“But nothing.” Cam shook her head, turning on the water in the sink to rinse the dishes before handing them to Cady to put in the dishwasher. “Kissing’s more intimate than sex, if it’s done right. Did he do it right?”

Cady couldn’t help a little smile at the memory, and that was evidently all her sister needed. She shook her head. “See? You know what I mean then. Cady, you’re going to regret this.”

“I know.” Cady faced her sister and turned off the water Cam had absently left running. She glanced at the stairs her daughter had gone up a few moments before and the closed study door. She could hear Neil’s voice on the other side. Either he’d gotten the call he was waiting for or he’d grown too impatient to wait any longer. She sighed and looked back at Cam. “I already do. Not just for me or my family, either. For Will. He should have a family, somebody he could love.”

“So why the hell are you doing this?” Cam grabbed her sister’s arms and shook her. “Why are you taking this chance with your life and his?”

“I love him.” The words felt right in her mouth, even while she knew how wrong it was to say them.

Cam stared at her, then sank into a seat at the kitchen table. She stared at nothing while Cady finished the dishes and made two cups of coffee. When Cady sat across from her, Cam accepted the coffee automatically.

“Are you okay?” Cady peered at her sister anxiously. Cam looked so pale in the dim light.

“I just can’t believe this is happening.” Cam shook her head. “You’re really in love with him?”

Cady nodded. She took a sip of her coffee. “And you don’t have to tell me how wrong it is. We both know. We didn’t mean to—it just happened.” She reached over and touched the glittering diamond on her sister’s hand. “Like that, actually.”

Cam pulled her hand back, covering the ring as if it were too precious to be subjected to the current conversation. “That has nothing to do with it. What are you going to do?”

“What do you mean?” Cady raised her eyebrows, leaning back in her chair.

“You know damn well what I mean.” Cam made an impatient movement as if to push something out of her way. “Are you going to have sex with him?”

Cady winced. “Geez, Cam. Way to couch those words in gentle expressions.”

“It’s sex even if you call it making love. It’s giving something intimate to someone besides your husband.” Cam’s expression challenged her sister. “And you didn’t answer the question.”

1 thought on “Where did I go wrong? The musings of a frustrated author…

  1. Ah, Michelle, I know it’s frustrating. You’ve already made up your mind, but I’ll throw this out there — maybe spend some time editing and revising those other stories. Who knows, some time away, and you may reread your WIP and find things there you really like, or maybe an answer as to which direction you need to go.

    Either way, good luck!

    John (jp2)

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