Author of LGBTQ YA Fiction. Flâneur. Playwright. Poet. Pilgrim.
Say Something, I’m Giving Up on You – When Do You Call it on a Manuscript?
Say something, I’m giving up on you I’ll be the one, if you want me to Anywhere, I would’ve followed you Say something, I’m giving up on you
So this is the song I’ve been singing to far too many old manuscripts. I keep going back to them and starting at the beginning and working my way through. I’ll edit a word here and there, change a few things around. I’m not talking about 2 manuscripts. This is 4 at the least. Every once in a while the 5th or 6th one will sneak in for some screen time. They’re all 3/4 done. I keep going back. They keep not getting completed.
Why am I doing this? It has to stop. I’m not starting anything new. I’m not getting anywhere near to close to being finished with them. I feel like somewhere along the way I should take things as a sign. If I haven’t finished by now, maybe I’m not going to finish.
When do you decide it’s time to give up and move on?
Say something, I’m giving up on you I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you Anywhere, I would’ve followed you Say something, I’m giving up on you
It’s hard when you really like parts of the abandoned or put aside manuscripts. There’s something that keeps drawing me back to each and every one of them…and it’s not the need to finish. I do not have a desire to finish everything I start. It’s not that.
As pathetic as it sounds, I sometimes think I keep going back out of curiosity. I want to find out what happens. It’s the same old story. I begin every novel with a question. WHAT IF? And then I write the novel to discover what happens after the what if? I never outline. I’m not against it and I’m certainly not against other people doing it. It’s just something that has never once worked for me. Somewhere along the way I gave up trying.
This doesn’t always mean that I go blindly into a story. Sometimes I know what I want it to look like, I just don’t know where it’s going. I have enough faith in the forward momentum. I trust that it will keep going until I get to the end. Usually, eventually it does. Sometimes it’s because Michael, my amazing cohort, will ask a few what ifs? of his own when I’m somewhere around the middle wondering aloud about what will happen next.
His what ifs? help to push me forward, and often even take me in different directions. Pantser writers like myself, we like to talk things through…try to figure out what’s happening. It’s an outline without calling it an outline, I suppose.
But, anyway. Today I feel only frustration. I have too many unfinished manuscripts and a real desire to finish them. AND AN EQUAL UNCERTAINLY about whether or not they’re worth finishing. All manuscripts are worthy of pursuing. None are a waste of time. Even the ones we don’t finish teach us something, right? They make us better writers, whether or not we type out THE END.
But I really want to finish a couple in particular. It’s driving me mad. I feel like I can’t move forward with something new until one or two older manuscripts are fully completed.
Here’s where I’m at.
What do you do with your difficult manuscripts? When is it time to put it in a drawer and never look back? When is it time to push on through? How many have you abandoned? How many did you consider abandoning but later, somehow miraculously finished? Frustrated minds want to know. I’m at a reckoning…
Author, Poet, Playwright. Author of The Camino Club, Billions of Beautiful Hearts, and Book of Dreams, all from Duet Books, the LGBTQ Young Adult imprint of Chicago Review Press. Other books: Pride Must Be A Place, Half Dead & Fully Broken, Burn Baby Burn Baby, The Reasons, Sebastian's Poet, and Summer on Fire.