One of the worst parts about continuously growing as a writer is having to unpick lessons that I have oh-so-painfully learned. It would be nice if I could look at the situation as putting down a crutch I no longer need–but there’s far more work involved on my part. I have to do it slowly and consciously. What it feels like is taking a seam ripper to a piece of cross-stitched fabric and pulling out one color among dozens of similar ones…then finding more errors…more…
I strain to save the pattern, but it’s too far gone. Eventually, I put down the fabric, design something else, and get started, although my heart is still sore.
This doesn’t mean that I’m sinking into the bad habit of editing old work to death. (Or at least not on a regular basis.) This is up the next level from that: the pattern of how to write in general, and not a particular story itself.
This time it’s letting go of the bare-minimum plot template I had worked out for myself. I just got hit by the two by four of “But none of your favorite books work like that. They work like this.”
I’m not ready to sum up this yet. It’s too new.
And letting go of that still hurts. I thought I had something figured out…nope. I had a week of nightmares where I could feel my subconscious trying to salvage something, trying to deny the implications…
Pick, pick, pick.
Yesterday I had to stop mourning and fussing and putt my butt in the chair so I could get actual writing done before a deadline.
That’s the test, I think: when your ideas about writing stop you from writing, give up on the ideas and go back to the writing. Both yours and the work of other writers that you love.
If you liked this post, check out my shorter tale, “Rusalka,” which is about the grief that comes when you realize your assumptions were wrong as about anything else.