Shelving Your Darlings

Once upon a time there was a girl with a spiral bound notebook and a story. She wrote it down, falling in love with her characters and her world, until it was done. 251 pages. Another life lived.  The book went on a shelf while the girl grew and learned, attempting a few versions of a sequel and finally stepping away from the book all together.  It never left her mind, and at eighteen, she began to type it out, revising and revamping, to make it the book she wanted it to be.

There's a funny thing about books.  They aren't fireproof.  Computers melt.  Paper burns. But memories remain.  She didn't write again until she was just shy of twenty-one, and when she did, she picked up that story and those characters and began to write.  There were a lot of misses at first as she remembered the craft that she loved, editing and deleting and trying to stick to the soul of that story.  It took three years, the bulk being completed in NaNoWriMo 2013.

Then she decided to stop talking in third person, because she realized it was getting weird.

Anyway, I finished my work in progress, Empress of A New Time and let it rest before starting on the editing process.  This story is so close to my heart, it's parts of me that have since gone away.  It's the representation of a dream that I had when I was young, completed once again.  But it's messy, it's ugly. It's a tangle of tropes and characters that desperately need deeper development.  There are darlings I need to kill. There are plot holes I need to fill. There is a lot of work that needs to be done.

And I'm not ready. I don't know if I'll ever be. As much as I love this story, it was conceived by a thirteen year old. At its core, it's a portal-prophecy-messiah fantasy, and at this moment it's a lot to change. The gnawing feeling I've had for almost twelve years has subsided and I feel good about putting it on the shelf to work on other projects. 

 I'm a better writer than when I started; I learned a lot with Empress. I learned about my process, I learned about character development, and I learned how wonderful it feels to reach the final chapter of a project. Even if I don't pick it back up again, it was a wonderful and rewarding process. We're all just learning to be better writers, page by page.

These are my feels


  1. Megan...I love this. Whether that story sits on the shelf indefinitely or it gets into the hands of a multitude of readers, it's the way it changed you that will always matter most. At least that's what I think.

  2. Nothing is ever wasted, if we learn from it. And sometimes the better wisdom is stepping away. There's lots of writing ahead for you, but that spiral bound notebook was the beginning. I hope you keep it, even if it never sees the light of day!