On Turning Over a New Leaf
We’ve all run into times when we’re just not willing to let something go. I had my experience with this recently during residency at Lesley University. This is the place where I’m always pushed out of my comfort zone. Always. It happened at the first two residencies, and I should’ve known it would happen at the third.
Because I’m a writer and I love what I do, it’s always been especially hard for me to stop working on something, to set it aside and start something new. Especially something as large as a novel. It’s a big investment, and as many people know, I’ve been working on a specific one for quite a while now. It was dismantled over the spring semester, but I was ready to get back into it–to bring it back to life and push it forward. That’s what I do. When times get hard, I push on. We all do. It’s part of writing.
This time, it wasn’t in the cards. And I’ll be honest–that felt awful.
After talks with my new mentor, I learned that this novel is “too ambitious” and “too big” for a first novel. I disagreed and fought for the right to keep working on it. What I hadn’t realized in my crusade to keep this novel afloat within the program was how much I was missing within the novel itself.
There were questions that I couldn’t answer. There was research I hadn’t done that should’ve been done a while ago. Perhaps most importantly, I wasn’t able to fit this novel into a basic plot graph. And that is a clear indicator that something is wrong.
The story that I’ve loved so much for the last seven years had wounds that I knew I wouldn’t be able to heal right now. This realization happened about a week ago. The novel that I’ve loved for seven years is being put aside now. I’m still a little upset, but for the purposes of the program I’m in, perhaps it is too big. Don’t get me wrong–this novel isn’t dead in the water. It’s simply on vacation while I try to find the answers to the most important questions surrounding it. I’ll work on it in my spare time because I still love it and I’m going to get it out there. Just not right now. And that’s okay.
A shiny new project has been plotted and graphed. I feel good about this one. After a messy spring semester and an awakening of sorts at residency, a new leaf is being turned over.
It feels damn good, too.