Sometimes the only way to move forward is to stop looking back. I blogged a few months about finding an extract of unfinished novel I had forgotten about and it caught hold of me. It seemed amazing to me that I had written 25,000 words and forgotten about it. I kept thinking about how I could make this manuscript work. How could I re-write it, with minimal time of course, and look at sending it out into the world in some way.
The temptation of self publishing made this idea a worthwhile possibility. If nothing happened out in the world then perhaps I could produce it myself into a beautifully packaged publication. But every time I opened the file and re-read the extract I found power in the writer I was 7 years ago, however my expectations and writing ability have changed. To try and do anything with this manuscript would involve pulling it apart, basically start again. And then if I did do that, how much of what I wrote originally had any validity.
Then I needed to weigh up the time I had to invest in this project versus the possible gains. The equation did not match up. While I could self publish anything of mine today and perhaps make a buck or two from it based on the my achievements to date, would this work speak well for me? If I self published something sub-par, that I didn’t believe in, how could I expect a reader to want to buy it and read it? And if they did and were disappointed the power of negative reviews could damage what I’ve built up so far.
I kept going back and forth like this for quite a few months. Feeling like I couldn’t let go of it because there was something of potential there, but wondering whether I should start at all.
Then I began thinking about the story itself. What was this novel about? And that’s when I realised what my decision was. I began this novel a long time ago and what I wanted to say with it then, is not something I want to say today. I’ve grown as a writer and as a person and need to work new projects that reflect that.
So I created a RIP folder and placed this project inside of that. Now I’m free to focus on new projects. Things I’ve had on the go for the past few months while I’ve been studying and can now dedicate myself to. There’s such a relief in arriving at this decision and not torturing myself any further. Time to look forward.
Amra Pajalić is an award-winning author, an editor and teacher who draws on her Bosnian cultural heritage to write own voices stories for young people, who like her, are searching to mediate their identity and take pride in their diverse culture. She writes memoir, young adult and romance under the pen name Mae Archer.
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