A week ago I reported about how the work-in-progress had come off the rails. Last night I made a decision I’ve never made with a novel-length project before: I set it aside. It’s the wrong story for this character at this time.
I’m not going to throw it away. Among the benefits of writing on a computer is the ability to save everything. There are a lot of good scenes in this draft, and I may want to revisit it some day to see if a way around its problems has appeared. There are several scenes that can be adapted into whatever I come up with to replace it. The time hasn’t been completely wasted.
This episode serves as a reminder of another of the benefits of self-publishing: no deadlines. I had an target date of getting it out by March of 2013. That’s not likely to happen with whatever replaces it, and that’s fine. I don’t have to lose sleep and re-arrange the rest of my life because a publisher has set a delivery date to suit his convenience. The next book will come out when it comes out.
I already have the germ of an idea. It’s been rattling around for several years now, the time never right to start work. (At least I knew the time wasn’t right for this idea.) Now the time may be damn near perfect for several reasons.
In case anyone is wondering, this is not a case of writer’s block. Even if I believed in writer’s block—which I emphatically do not—I’ve been cranking out good pages all along. The problem was not an inability to write; it was an inability to write myself out of the cul-de-sac I’d taken myself to. I’ll work on a short story for the organized crime collection as a way to cleanse my writing palate. The shorty is already mostly sketched in my head.
The abandoned project had a tough life. The plot keystone I needed to tie the two halves together never materialized. I took six weeks off early in the draft when the basement waterproofing and remodeling project demanded too much attention. I had to fight a little to find this character’s voice again after having set him aside for a few years. On balance, this was a good ox, with a lot of potential. He flat out wouldn’t go where I wanted him to go.