Monday, March 28, 2011

When do you know to shelve a project?

My brain is friiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiied today, my friends. So I thought we'd do a little discussion instead of me just jabbering at you for a change. (To be fair, all of my posts are supposed to be discussions. I just like talking about myself. You'd think I'd blog more, wouldn't you?)

I'm a wimp. Five months of unemployment and SUDDENLY going to school two days a week and working the other five makes me TIRED! Ha! Like I wasn't:

a.) Working full time
b.) Planning my wedding (and making most of the stuff for it), and
c.) Going to school two nights a week

a mere six months ago. What happened to me?

Oh. I know. The couch, Twitter, and two certain cats happened to me. Ah well.

Anyway. I'm going to be very frank today and talk about something taboo: rejection. There's this project I've been working on. A "novel", some people call it. I've been querying this "novel" thing for-- well, not that long. In fact, I've really not given it a full chance, I know. But I'm tired of querying (frankly), and I've pretty much queried all the agents I would really want to work with. Something just doesn't appeal to me about querying hundreds of agents hoping one of them sticks just for the sake of having an agent when there are certain ones I know I want to work with.

There has been a lot of rejection on this novel. There is still some hope. But the feedback I've gotten so far doesn't give me much hope... for that hope. See, I wrote something that I think is good, but I know there are some aspects of it that don't fit the mold for the genre it's in. And I wrote it that way on purpose.

Usually, I'm all over fixing something I agree is wrong with my manuscript. But it would mean a whole re-working of the story, and I'm honestly not even sure where to go from where I am to fix the problems it has and still keep the story I set out to write.

Now, I'm sure some of you are going: "L.T.! If it's wrong, wipe it and fix it! They know what they're talking about!" And I totally agree. Which is why I'm thinking that if my final hope doesn't pan out, I'm going to shelve this project, even though I love it very much, and just keep moving forward with the other projects I've got in the works. That's actually the other aspect of my decision-- though I won't be able to keep the pace for now, I am a very prolific writer. I'm okay moving on to the next thing because I know there will be one. There always is.

So, after much jabbering after claiming not to jabber, that leads to me to the discussion part of today's post:

When do you decide to give up on a project?


Susan Kaye Quinn said...

This is a great question. The short answer, for me, is when I've 1) gotten everything I can out of the project (craftwise, as a writer) and 2) I've tried every avenue of publication I'm willing to consider.

I know a lot of people who want agents and traditional publishing (that would be me too), but going small press with a first book is not a bad idea. In fact, it can be a great stepping stone, especially for a book that doesn't fit the nice neat box of WOW that the agents (and big publishers) are looking for right now.

Good luck with whatever route you take! :)

Keriann Greaney Martin said...

You do have the wonderful ability to always have another story brewing. On the other hand, I think you should also give it all you've got when you love your MS - like this one. But only you know what feels right. Good luck, lady!! We love you!

Jenna Wallace said...

I think instinct plays a huge part in this.

If you understand your market, how the industry works, your project(meaning: how good it is, how marketable it is), and your own self (meaning: your willingness/ ability to make your project a viable one based on feedback) then you should rely on what your instinct tells you. If it tells you to keep going, do it. If you know deep down that the project isn't "The One" then shelve it.

And of course, when I say "you," I mean writers in general, because it is going to be different for everyone.

storyqueen said...

I think you should start something new. You might get re-inspired to "fix" things about your old ms while you are working on the new one, but personally, I learned a LOT by letting something go. (And it is possible to get bored with an idea and just need to move on sometimes.)

Good luck!


Stephanie Thornton said...

I think if you have the passion for the project, you won't shelve it. But if you just don't want to change it, it's time to shelve it.

And who knows, maybe one day you'll take it off the shelf and dust it off. It could happen!

Adam Heine said...

For me it's math. So long as my belief the project can succeed is greater than the perceived work required to make it succeed, I will work on it.

Okay, so it's subjective math, but it's still math!

Matthew Delman said...

For me, the decision is all about level of interest in the story. I'm not talking about being in the midst of edits, because everyone hates their story at least a little bit when they're editing it, but rather if I find myself not thinking about the characters when I'm not working on the story.

Now, the way my brain works is that I tend to plot out scenes for characters that might never make it into the story, but help me figure them out; this tends to happen on my drives to and from work (45 minutes in the car FTW). And if I find that characters from a certain story don't make an appearance there, then I know it's time to move on from that project for now.

K. Marie Criddle said...

These are things I need to learn. A project gets shelved only when someone does it for me. Usually forcefully.

I have a hard time getting the idea otherwise.