One of the weird things about writing fiction is how real the events in my stories feel to me. When I hit a snag in my story and realize that I have to change an event or a character’s personality, I sometimes feel reluctant. A part of me can’t let go because I remember the events on the page as if they’d really happened. Basically, I’m creating my own multiverse as I write.
Before I leave the universe I’m inhabiting and step into the one where the story has moved, I have to calm the part of me crying “But I don’t wanna go! I’m comfortable here. And that new universe might be scary.”
“Shh,” my editor brain whispers. “These new events and this new version of the character will make for such a stronger story.”
“Uh, nope. That’s NOT the way it happened,” my creative side insists. “That’s not the hero I love. And you can’t convince me otherwise.”
“You can come back to visit,” my editor brain says. “Just try this version. If you don’t like it, the old version is saved and you can go back.”
“Well…okay. Maybe I’ll try it.”
Don’t worry. I don’t really have a conversation like that. But if I put my emotional resistance into words, that’s how it would come out. As an argument about letting go of the old and embracing the new.
Time spent on a project only exacerbates this issue.
As of the date of this blog post, I’ve been working on WAR: Retaliation for over two years. I’ve put entire versions of the story behind me at this point, including two complete books. All of which I liked, but didn’t love enough to publish. Still, I spent so much time inside those versions of the story that I became attached to those plots and those versions of the characters.
With each new draft, it’s become increasingly difficult to come up with a new, more satisfying plot and stronger versions of the main characters. I think that subconsciously, I’m afraid of the sadness that comes from having characters change in perhaps radical ways and the loneliness and uncertainty of abandoning a familiar plot to move into the unknown.
Yet, if I’m to have any hope of finishing this book, I have to move forward boldly with my writing and not be afraid to leave those old story versions behind. I need to remember that the places the story wants to go will be even more exciting.
Here’s to letting go without fear and embracing change!