When it comes to literature, we all have our favorite books that we love to return to many times over. Then we have those books who we think we might enjoy, but it turns out we wish we had never even picked them up. It’s great to be able to put down a book you can’t stand reading after a certain point. But what happens when the book you can’t stand is one you wrote yourself?
This is a problem I’ve tackled for the past two months. Entering the editing process on my now extinct horror novel, I’ve believed I might have a blast with this story, as I have with other tales that I’ve penned. Of course, the word extinct implies that I’m done with this story but good, a valid assessment.
How have I gone from wanting to edit this story to making sure it never again haunts my desktop? I suppose the first sign of trouble would be how much time lapsed between editing sessions. We all have busy lives and sometimes things do get in the way. Yet if I don’t feel excited to return to the project, if I make excuses for not doing the work, or if I allow distractions to get to me all of the time, then I should suspect something’s not right with this particular story.
Another sign that things may not be right with the book may be that the characters I’ve written about all come across as flat, one-note caricatures who don’t even feel anywhere close to being a believable characters. An example of this is that I’ve had this one plot point where the main characters realize their friend has disappeared. There’s a pool of blood around the friend’s vehicle, and their cell phone is shattered. What do the characters do? They go back to work in the very next scene as if nothing wrong ever happened.
I do realize this is a story I once cared about. But if something has gotten lost along the way, then perhaps it’s time for me to shelve it. I may try to come back to it at another point in the future. I don’t know. What I do know is that with life being as busy as it is, I can’t afford to squander my time on books that no longer resonate with me.
Have you ever written a story or anything else that made you wonder what you were thinking?