Deciding to Delete
On September 27th, 2014 I deleted a writing project I’d played with for a large part of the last twenty years; the majority of my life. The years of off-again, on-again commitment to it had me written into a corner of chaos that I just couldn’t dig myself out of.
So, I decided to delete. Partly because I felt I needed to accept I was never going to invest the time to complete it, and partly because I recognized it needed a blank slate to allow the confusion I’d allowed it time to die.
I remember the day the story, or rather, the character, came to me, and I wrote those first few lines. I’d just finished reading one of Christopher Pike’s The Last Vampire books and found myself without a new book to read.
Rather than search for more books, I started my own, envisioning a vampire-human hybrid who fought her violent tendencies, refusing to bow to the will of those who’d created her.
Little did I know Blade had been a thing for years, and countless other similar characters (including Sita) graced, and will grace, the literary stage. That my idea wasn’t wholly original was discouraging, so I set aside the idea of this character, and of writing my own story, for some time.
But this character never left me, and soon I’d morphed her away from this vampire heritage to something else, something I could call more my own, though I’d never be arrogant enough to suggest she’s wholly original. Is there such thing? The human condition, even in all our individual natures, is highly relatable in that we all experience the same archetypal situations, which are portrayed in the best stories ever written, and the worst.
Ultimately, my story is about a girl finding her way, despite ignoring the path set before her. Despite wishing her life were different. Despite having relied, for far too long, on the advice, and guidance of those around her, ignoring her own ideas on what her life should be. Even refusing to create her own thoughts on what she might want out of living.
There were a few moments during my writing time that I’d thought about finishing this story for the sake of starting a writing career, but I never got around to putting in the actual effort finishing something like this would take. I was too distracted by life things and inconsequential things and things I can’t even remember to maintain the energy it takes to finish a project of this size.
Sometimes, it was a thing I worked on just for fun, until it was a thing that made me stressed because I couldn’t seem to focus on finishing. I felt guilty. I felt like ashamed that I just couldn’t dig deep enough to concentrate on it.
Then, I did finish, on a level that wasn’t quite the level it needed to be. I even submitted it to a few agents, after researching a handful who were representing authors with works I considered similar to mine. Even then, I knew it wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready. The story wasn’t ready. It was rushed. It was forced.
So, enough was enough. If I wasn’t going to be serious about it, I didn’t need to be wasting so much brain energy worrying about it.
I deleted it.
It wasn’t really gone
But, I never DELETED it. My boyfriend, who’s worked as an illustrator for the last fifteen years, allowed me a convenient collaborator to turn this story into a graphic novel. Maybe the thing I thought was missing would be found by bringing the story to pictures. Maybe I could smooth things out by being forced to re-think the concept for this new medium.
We played with that for a few years, putting a full first book together of the opening sequence, but I was never happy with it. There was still something missing (you can view a version of that project here).
Not being able to put these characters to bed, or rather, because these characters refused to be left lying, I re-began the journey towards a novel, starting with blank pages, and my notes from years ago that I hadn’t had the heart to throw away.
This break must have been what I needed. In the span of months, I’ve put 75,000 words to paper (where it had taken me years to get through a quarter of that). This time, it felt natural to tell the story. This time, these characters flowed effortlessly to the page.
As of February 26th, 2016, I have a completed, readable, proud, shiny, new, (re)-finished draft!
It feels good – really good – to be at this place with this story. Characters that have lived in my brain for so long finally get to breath real air with no risk of being forgotten, or stifled. My sisters are excited to finally finish reading a story they’ve only gotten to see the beginning of. If for nothing else, it was worth finishing for that, though, to be fair, it’ll take two more books to completely tell this story.
Moral of The Story
I felt compelled to share this. Apparently, perseverance, with well-timed (or frustrated) breaks, are helpful to the creative process. Keep working, and re-working, your art. I feel my muse and I are in a sync we never were, probably because I was too busy being distracted, where now I allow myself the time to work, not worrying about the things I may be missing, because I’m not missing them. I’m allowing myself to do the thing I should have been doing all along, except I was letting outside influences pull me away. Now, it’s the other things that take me away from my writing, and I can’t wait to return to my laptop, and the worlds conjured in my head.
May your muse and you be ever synced,