On letting go

1155x510-amsterdam-6About a month ago, I did something I swore I would never do. With only 15,000 words to go until The End, I walked away from a manuscript. Just…closed the file and let it go. I guess you could say I gave up on it.

It’s not that that story wasn’t good, because it was. But with two published books under my belt, I now know a book is not just about the words on the page. It’s about a solid hook and unique characters and market trends and a pretty cover and all those millions of things big and small that all add up into a publisher’s ability to sell that sucker. And as much as I loved this story when I set out to write it, somewhere in the process it lost a little of its sparkle. Somewhere along the way, I’d lost the thrill in writing it. Even so, I was determined. Finish or bust, because the alternative seemed so much worse. All those words and time wasted.

And yet?

And yet.

Around the same time, a new idea began brewing in my head. The characters were real, and boy were they vocal. They began talking in my head, and they wouldn’t shut up. The stories they tell me are heartbreaking and shocking and so much better than the story I was struggling to finish. Any writer will attest: when characters like that come along–when a story grabs you by the guts and refuses to let you go–you better believe you sit down and write it. I opened up my laptop, and the words started flowing. This new story is killing me a little to write, but then again, those are the best stories.

Maybe I’ll pick up that old story again, and maybe I won’t. But first I’m going to finish this one, because it’s awesome.

ps. What does that picture of Amsterdam have to do with my new story? Absolutely nothing. But it was pretty, and I thought you might like it. 😉

About Kimberly S. Belle

Kimberly Belle grew up in Eastern Tennessee, in a small town nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians. A graduate of Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, Kimberly lived for over a decade in the Netherlands and has worked in marketing and fundraising for various nonprofits. She's the author of two novels, THE LAST BREATH and THE ONES WE TRUST (August 2015). She divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam. Keep up with Kimberly on Facebook (www.facebook.com/KimberlyBelleBooks), Twitter (@KimberlySBelle), or via her website at www.kimberlybellebooks.com.

Posted on May 29, 2015, in Blog Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. You are much braver than I am! Good luck with the new manuscript.

  2. Kimberly, I did the very same thing (for the same reasons!) not long ago. It was difficult to step away from all the hard work and time I’d put into that particular story. I, too, was excited about it when I began the project, but when the “sparkle wore off” as you said, it was better to start a new, completely fresh story and push forward. I’m happy I did. If the other one still needs to be written, it will let me know when the time is write. If not…

    Happily, the story that followed has been going very well. I feel cautious after such a “burn”, so I hesitate to get too excited about a story until I’ve completed it. At the same time, however, when characters grab ahold of you, it’s a pretty good sign. Right?

    I wish you all the best with your current story, and if it fizzles out as well (though it doesn’t sound as though that will be the case), you will write the next one. Because that’s what we (writers) do, isn’t it? We trip, we fall, we flounder, but we get right back up and move forward. 😉

    • I hear you, Linda. It’s all about timing. Good luck with all your projects, and if you ever pick up that old manuscript again, let me know how it goes. 😉


  3. You did the right thing in letting that manuscript go. You can always go back with a clear perspective and give it another try, but if your heart wasn’t in it, your readers would know. Congrats on staying true to the story.

  4. I’ve always got multiple manuscripts going on, so I never feel like I’m walking away from one if I work on another. But I recently realized that one women’s fiction story I was working on was wrong at a conceptual level. I don’t have the creative energy to work on it right now, because I’ve got another series that’s a priority for me. I’ll come back to it eventually. And if your story is meant to be, you’ll come back to it, too, perhaps reimagined and better than ever. Good luck!

%d bloggers like this: