About three years ago, I finished a novel. It was grand and spectacular and I wanted everyone to read it and love it.
A few people did read it and love it. I knew it still needed work, but it was an awesome story. So...I cheated and queried it. That was the first time I ever queried anything. Fortunately, my attention span was vary narrow at the time (also, I didn't realize I could query a bunch of agents at once, so I only sent out one letter at a time) and I only sent off about 6 query letters. All form rejections, as you might have guessed.
And then life got in the way. Literally. I had a job that was doing terrible things to me psychologically, and even if the 16-hour days, 6 days a week hadn't driven me into a deep depression, the lack of sleep would have made it difficult to write.
So I shelved that book, along with most everything else creative. I finally got back to it just a little over a year ago, and by that time I had re-written it a million times in my head. So when I got back into writing it, I ended up deleting more than half the story and replacing it with new stuff.
I look at the original and while it certainly wasn't a grand masterpiece, it actually wasn't bad. It was a completely different story than what I have now, aside from the core 'romantic' relationship that happens.
About three weeks ago, I finished a novel. It was grand and spectacular and I wanted everyone to read it and love it.
One person has finished it, and a second is in the process. I know it needs work, but it's an awesome story. The thing is, the moment I finished it, I had no idea what would need fixing. Aside from a few notes in the manuscript that say things like "should I expand this scene?" I wouldn't have been able to tell you what needed work.
Which is why I can't dive back into editing as soon as a project is finished. I can admit that. I have to let it sit for at least a week, because after day one I still love it, and by day three I never want to see it again, but with any luck after a week, I've forgotten enough to look at it with fresh eyes.
So now, three weeks later, it seems like it should be the perfect time to edit this new story. I have some notes, I'm still hoping for some more, but I have enough to get started at least.
These two novels take place in the same universe. Once upon a time they were meant to be part of a series. But as I wrote them, I realized the two stories were happening at the same time, not one after another. The events in the two stories overlap.
Since I had already given up on the first one, I decided that was okay. The second one would take its place. Until someone asked if I had considered combining the two.
And for many, many reasons, it made perfect sense. It was like the missing link of the puzzle. The only problem is, that first novel has been resting again. For several months. And I go back and look at it and think "I could change this, and that, and this, and that"...which would require changing both story lines.
And I love this second story. I was very happy with how it turned out and I've only been staring at it since November instead of for three years, so I'm not tired of it yet.
So now I'm asking myself a few things:
- Can I revise without wanting (again) to obliterate half of the original story?
- Will leaving so much of the original story intact hurt me in the end?
- Am I stubborn enough to let this entire project suck me back into this abandoned novel for another month or two, or
- Will I surrender and leave the entire thing by the roadside in favor of my new idea?
So, all of that leads to a single conclusion. I firmly believe that it's a good idea to let a story rest after you finish it, regardless of how long the story is.
However, leaving it for too long takes away some of the original wonder. The awe, the inspiration, the thoughts and reason that drove me to write the story in that way.
The question is, where is that balance? How does one know when it's been long enough but not too long?