Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Abandoned Work

There comes a time in every writer's life when we must abandon the piece we are working on and move on.

What? You say, I could no sooner abandon my work than abandon my own child!

Yes, it's true that we writers to become extraordinarily attached to our work. And after all the time and effort that goes into birthing the piece, and bringing it into careful existence, it's no wonder. But there are times when, try as we may, we simply cannot get a piece to move forward. It remains obstinately mired and floundering, and we flounder right along with it. Our muse flees, and creativity vanishes like the early morning mist. At these times, what may be required, is to cut and run while you still can!

But all is not lost. Consider these words from The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspirations for Writing by Monica Wood: If, after all your best efforts, the piece you're writing must be abandoned, do not despair. There is no such thing as wasted writing. Sometimes you must search and destroy, search and destroy, search and destroy before finding your true subject. Kiss those hard-earned pages goodbye -- fondly, if you can manage it -- and take out a beautiful, clean sheet. The new, marvelous thing you are about to write will emerge not despite those abandoned pages, but because of them.

And so, do what you must. Tuck those pages away in a drawer, toss them into the fireplace, or attach them to a bottle rocket and send it into the sky. It matters not. What matters is that you set yourself free. Your work will live on in new and glorious ways!

All it takes to start is a fresh sheet of paper.

1 comment:

Alex Andronov said...

Giving up isn't giving up if you learnt something!

Knowing when to give up, and when to redraft is one of the hardest lessons to learn though.