A wonderful writing friend recently posted about her decision to start anew with her writing. She boxed up a decade’s worth of essays, stories, novels, thanked them for what they had taught her and is now looking ahead. That’s it, I thought. That is exactly what I need to do. That must be why I am so stuck and in between projects right now. (Did I mention that I am highly suggestible?) I need to start anew. I could already imagine the feeling of joy and freedom this would bring. Having stories hanging around for, what can sometimes be years, can be daunting. Besides it’s the beginning of a new year and I’ve been clearing out every closet and drawer in our house, why not my writing? I had so many reasons why this was what I had to do. But I couldn’t seem to let them go. I found the inside jacket copy of the novel I wrote as an exercise and as I read it I found myself thinking, “This is exactly the kind of novel I would buy for myself.” There was this little spark of something. Curiosity? Excitement? It was a flicker of something and I am learning to trust that. It means the story isn’t done with me yet, nor I with it. Then I went to my writing group where we workshopped a story that is part of a project that I was considering letting go of. The writers in my group are amazing. They make me feel like I am a thousand percent more talented than I ever believe myself to be. As they discussed the story, the characters started coming alive again. That flicker of excitement was there. Okay, okay, we’re not done with each other either. I get it. So, now I have a project to focus on. Revisions to make, new stories to write, stories to submit and no longer feel like I am floundering.
How about you? Do you ever let stories go? How do you know it’s time? How can you tell when a story has taught you all it can and it’s time to move on?