One of the hardest things for a writer to learn is when a piece of writing isn’t working. It could be a whole novel or simply a portion — perhaps a chapter or a scene. If it’s the latter, there’s hope. With some effort and TLC, you can salvage it. But when it’s a whole novel — and there’s no hope — it can be incredibly painful.
It’s similar to when a relationship isn’t working. You know it deep in the pit of your stomach. It causes you anxiety. You dread talking about it or seeing the person or dealing with what you know will be the inevitable: the break up. But you know that you — and your sanity — will be better off once you do it, once you pull the trigger, once you have the “we need to talk” conversation.
What happens after you break up with your writing is similar to human relationship break ups. With some, you can still be friends afterwards, or, at least, after the pain subsides and you’ve had some space. With others, you walk away and never look back. Good riddance, you think. Occasionally, you encounter the “one” that becomes the elusive lover who got away, the one you think about years later, even though you know in your heart you can never go back.
And finally, and rarer still, there’s the possibility you get back together with one of those you broke up with. Perhaps when you’re older and wiser and you have perspective that can only come from time spent apart. And you find it works. And that you’re happy.
Any of this is possible. Part of being a writer — a good, smart writer — is knowing when you have to let go, even if you don’t know how the break up will ultimately play out. It’s one of the many risks you take every time you dive into a piece, or start a new relationship: it might not work out. But that’s okay. You dive anyway. You try. That’s all you can do.
Of course, sometimes magic happens: it works. And you’re happy. You’re happy in a way that you can’t put words to, despite the fact words are your life and this is what you do. Kinda like being in love.
If you write, have you ever had a break up? Did you see it coming? Are you still friends, or is the love (for that piece) lost forever? Share in the comments.