Friday, April 2, 2010

Beginning Again

Earlier this week I got my entry back from an RWA chapter contest that I’d entered. This particular contest was very similar to my “home” chapter’s contest in that it was only the first few pages that was submitted. My judges were an RWA PRO member and then two readers. One of the judges was particularly harsh in her comments and as a result my excitement about this particular story took a giant nose dive.

In a way though I’m realizing that her comments (along with comments from the other two which were a bit more constructive) helped me see something about this particular story – namely, I’m writing the wrong one. This particular story was about a mail order bride in 1880 Montana Territory. One thing I found out in my research before beginning this story is that not only were there mail order brides, but mail order grooms as well. The women who needed a mail order groom were most often widows who had a ranch or farm that needed to be worked and didn’t want to lose her family’s legacy because she couldn’t own it outright herself.

So I made the decision to scrap this particular story for now – I’m not saying that it won’t ever be written – and begin again. It’s kind of aggravating but in a way refreshing because I know that this story is going to be unique (there aren’t many mail order groom novels out there that I have been able to come across) and as a newbie author that’s what I need.

I also made another decision this week – due to a move and a family medical issue I’m placing myself, writing wise, on hiatus until May. My tiny apartment is over run with boxes (and I’ve only packed about 6) and I need time to get my life settled so that I can concentrate and make this novel the very best it can be.

So what about you? Have you ever started a story only to realize you’re writing the wrong one? What about taking a break from writing all together? How did you cope with either of these things?


Sheila said...

Well, you probably remember that I took a pretty long break after being critiqued at WorldCon last August. It wasn't that the critique was unduly harsh; it was more a matter of a) I was overconfident going into it, and b) I was having a hard time wrapping my head around the requested changes. I didn't really start writing again until late October (just in time to warm up for NaNoWriMo).

As far as writing the wrong story, I'm still not certain that the second volume of my space pirate series is really the direction I want to take the series. That, plus the thing is so huge, I don't know that I can ever edit it down into a publishable format. That may be why I haven't even started editing it yet.

I think you're making the right choice to take a break now. You've got enough stress in your life; if writing is only adding to that, then there's no reason not to set it aside for now. But just be aware that I've set an alarm, and if I don't hear that you've started at least thinking about writing again by the beginning of June, I'm going to nag you!

Katie said...

Taking a break from writing is a good idea at times. You know me: I stopped writing full-stop back in November because I had to. When your life's in upheaval, you have to put the writing on the shelf and focus on whatever it is that's got you stressed out. (Of course, receiving harsh criticisms are tough pills to swallow; I know I am still reeling a little from what I got back in October.)

Point is, do what you have to do to get your life straightened out and settled once again. Then turn back to your writing, refocus, learn what you can from the criticisms, and get back to writing. Like Sheila, I'll be bugging you in June if I haven't heard a peep from you about writing.