Monday, October 18, 2010

Setbacks and Moving Forward

Friday was a lousy day, both personally and with writing. Often these go hand and hand with me. If I’m having a bad writing day it will affect my mood and if things in my personal life (work, family, health, etc/) are off it affects my writing. Anyway, after a hard day, I got home and decided to reread a book that I had enjoyed a year ago. I liked this book a lot the first time I read it because the author realistically portrays the angst, uncertainty, and changes that adolescents go through in middle school. That’s what the MC in my WIP experiences. As I read, I’d come to a scene that sounded familiar. A sleepover where there are fantastic snacks? That’s in my novel. Walking home alone because a parent forgot to pick her up? That’s in mine too. I read the whole book that day and as I read I’d come across scene after scene that sounded just like what I had written. I can’t tell you how deflated I became by the time I reached the end. (Btw – I still love the book and cried in exactly the same spot that I did a year ago).

Then I went on the computer to distract myself. I read an article about a book that was soon to be released – a YA ghost story with a similar main element that I had planned to develop. I thought, “Now what do I do? Throw both ideas out and start over? Do I even have an original idea in me?” The thought of all that hard work going “to waste” and the self doubt began to overcome me and brought on lots of tears.

The next day was better. They usually are after a good night’s sleep. My personal situation didn’t seem as bad as it did the day before. The writing? Well, I still wasn’t in a great frame of mind, but I didn’t want to give up writing altogether like I did the night before. By Sunday I was googling ghost stories to see if there was anything similar to my new idea on the market. As far as I can tell, there isn’t and so I think I’ll continue to brainstorm this month to prepare for the NaNoWriMo. By last night I actually felt good and said to myself (as I’ve done every time I experience a setback), “Well, maybe I’ll try again.” That’s what we do as writers if we really love to write, don’t we.

Literary agent, Sarah Davies, from The Greenhouse Literary Agency offers great advice on her blog. This morning before I left for work, I checked it out. I think she was thinking of me when she wrote it. Her post was exactly what I needed to read, especially #8 and #9.

So now I’m moving forward. Instead of dwelling on the similarities between my WIP and the other book, I’ve decided to list the differences and work on making mine unique. And my next idea? I plan to do more research, continue to check out the YA market, and plow ahead this November. Setbacks can be horribly frustrating, maddening, and depressing. But after venting to friends, a couple glasses of wine (or other comfort of choice), and a good night’s sleep, we have two choices: give up or move forward. I choose to move forward.

1 comment:

  1. So glad to hear you haven't given up on yourself. I had a similar experience a few months back on My WiP #2 when I picked up a book recommended by a friend and suddenly there was a main element for my story right in the first pages (before the story even began). I immediately set it aside because I didn't want it to taint my own work. A coworker read it when I told her about it (she's a beta reader for me), and she said it's nothing like what I have in mine. Phew. But I'm still not going to read it until I've got all my stuff worked through.

    I'd already figured if my idea wasn't new (like I'd be likely to be totally creative anyway--yeah right) I'd decided I would just have to find ways to tweak it so it wasn't really like that other book anyway. I'm a firm believer in tweaking until you've made it your own anyway (especially since I've already got 50k words!!)

    Good luck!