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Let Go

[1]Three weeks ago, I’d had enough of banging my head against my computer’s keypad. My forehead was tattered, and hangnails were in full bloom from gnawing.

Y’see, the thread I’d been trying to shoehorn into my current wip wouldn’t fit. I’d re-word action sequence this, and I’d massaged character that, just to get the bloody thing to work. Because this idea was really, really cool. If I could figure out how to make it a go, it’d be awesome.

Four months–an entire season–later, it still wasn’t working. Reluctantly, with a gentle sob into my pillow deep in the night, I realized I couldn’t make it a go. Instead I had to let it go.

I resisted, though. I spent another month of fiddling. How can you kill your children? Chucking a juicy thread went against my instinct as a writer, especially since I’d spent so long tinkering with it. I’d invested months and page counts and a whole plot arc into it.

Here’s the thing, though. As soon as I tearfully bid the thread goodbye, the clouds parted. Literally. The birds sang, my fingers flew over the keyboard, I was free, FREE. The plot unfolded like a petal.

I wonder now if I had junked the thread after, say, only six weeks of tinkering, I would be less resistant to sending it into the crapper. But I cut myself some slack. Writers have play with stuff to see if it works, audition characters, explore their crazy ideas to see if they might actually hang together. It’s the only way to push the boundaries, move away from the stereotypes. And sometimes they have to be wise enough to say “enough.”

Are you having trouble with a plot thread, a character? Maybe even the entire MS?

Consider letting go. Once the anvil’s gone, you might be free to soar.

About Kathleen Bolton [2]

Kathleen Bolton is co-founder of Writer Unboxed. She writes under a variety of pseudonyms, including Ani Bolton [3]. She has written two novels as Cassidy Calloway [4]: Confessions of a First Daughter, and Secrets of a First Daughter--both books in a YA series about the misadventures of the U.S. President's teen-aged daughter, published by HarperCollins, and Tamara Blake, for the novel Slumber [5].