I actually managed to finish my novel, which I’ve renamed CLARA, and then tried to edit it. I had friends read it in order to get outside opinions and I did get some helpful suggestions. However, it seemed as if every time I worked on it, I found some new angle I should have gone, or there was some detail I had missed. Eventually, it got to the point where I hated my novel.
I wanted to print it out just so I could burn it. I wanted to tuck it inside of a new folder on my computer, put that into a different folder, and then put that into some obscure subdirectory that I would never be able to find again. I suppose this is the modern equivalent of tying a rock to something and dropping it into ocean. Goodbye. Don’t come floating back up to the surface, thank you very much.
My husband suggested that I start working on other things. I tried but for every story idea I dreamed up, two more also cropped up, like mushrooms after a rain. But these aren’t the delicious mushrooms you dice up on a salad. These are the noxious, poisonous kind that cause you to spend days deliberating over whether or not you want to try your hand at urban fantasy or stick with high fantasy. Or maybe you should give sci-fi a go? Eventually, I turned back to my novel simply because it felt safer than starting a new project.
It’s an interesting thing, hating your novel. One of the phrases that floats writing circles is “kill your darlings”. I’ve never been a hundred percent sure as to what that phrase means but, to me, it’s always evoked the idea of killing off the best part of your novel for the sake of the story, even if it’s your favorite part of the novel. If it drags it down, get rid of it.
But if you hate your novel, are there any darlings to kill? Have you reached a new level of objectiveness? Or are you just so frustrated, you’ll cut anything just to be finished?
I have to admit, editing it has become easier because I can look at it more objectively. Yes, I wonder sometimes if I’m cutting a little too closely to the bone, but that’s what beta readers are for, right? To let you know if something is missing, something that may still lie twitching on your floor.
But I do miss those rose-tinted days when I was madly in love with my novel. That was when I was hip-deep in writing it, though. Now it’s time to break out the knives and get to cutting. And if I want to do it properly, there can’t be any misty eyes.