For her Monday post last week, Elizabeth S. Craig of Mystery Writing is Murder wrote about moving on with your writing. She suggests some writers keep working at their rejected manuscripts too long; they’re revising revising revising instead of writing writing writing. Elizabeth says, “A writer writes. It’s the most important part. If you’re using the past tense ‘I’ve written a book,’ then you’re not continuing the process.” She also included an excellent quote by Chris Grabenstein in which he advises you must put away that first and second novel and continue on to the third and fourth. The idea is that with each novel you write, your writing will improve and eventually you’ll have something publishable.
I wholeheartedly agree with Elizabeth’s post. And it got me thinking about what I’m writing now: short stories. My excellent creative writing professor in college suggested we write short stories to get our foot in the publishing door, to have some publishing credits before we query agents and before we try publishing in prestigious magazines (you know, the ones that actually pay well!). Her advice made perfect sense to me, so that’s what I’ve been doing.
But now I’m losing heart in the short story. I like short stories, but I love novels. I think I have a dozen short story collections on my bookshelves. But I know I have hundreds of novels.
Last November when I participated in and “won” NaNoWriMo (see NaNo’s blog here), it was the happiest I’d been with writing in a long time. I attributed it to the writing community, knowing I was writing a novel at the same time thousands of others were doing so, too. I attributed it to my story because I was writing something I really cared about. I even attributed it to the fact that the holidays were here. What I didn’t consider was that maybe it was the novel writing process itself that made me so happy. I’d written novels before NaNoWriMo, but I never completed them. This time, I was serious about writing a novel, and it seemed to make all the difference.
I’ve always wanted to be an author, a novelist. Maybe it’s time to let go of the short stories and delve into the novel ideas I have? I’m just not sure. Part of me wants to, but another part of me keeps saying I’ll have a much better chance getting a short story published this year than a novel published in five years. Having short story publishing credits will help me later when I’m ready to publish a novel.
Giving up altogether on the short story just feels wrong. Perhaps I should get started on my novel ideas and continue working on short stories? Well, this weekend I’ll be doing some soul-searching for sure!
Share with me!
How do you know when to let go of what you’re writing or to hold on a little longer? How do you know when it’s time to move on to something else? Do you ever know, or is it just trial and error? Anyone else currently doing some soul-searching over their writing?