I’ve given up writing fiction. Well, I’m finally admitting to myself I gave up quite a while ago.
I had a number of short stories published many years ago, most in print publications which no longer exist. And I still have two partially written novels deep in the basement of my Word docs. The characters are no longer alive for me, although once they were so present that I could see through their eyes as well as my own.
All this time I hung on to a stack of notebooks filled with dialogue, character sketches, drawn and re-drawn place maps, plot development notes, and other fiction vitals which I never even got around to typing into my works-in-progress files. Or, more accurately, works no longer in progress. I flipped through those notebooks today while reorganizing (which I was doing to avoid an actual writing deadline) and admitted to myself my half-written novels are dead. They’ve been dead for a very long time.
I expected to feel sad. After all, my characters never got to dance through the dramas I invented for them or which, more accurately, it seemed they dictated to me. I expected to feel guilty too. In my busiest years I got up early or stayed up late to write hundreds of thousands of words, yet still didn’t have sufficient attention span or vision to finish writing those novels.
Instead I am simply relieved. The silent weight of these must-get-around-to manuscripts is gone. Once, the secret worlds of these novels accompanied me so closely I felt I was living several lives simultaneously. But no more. Time to let them go.
I dumped the books in the recycling bin without a farewell wave, not even a tang of nostalgia. Turns out the freedom to give up on projects feels liberating. I like to believe I’m making space for projects closer to my heart. I’m going to let those ideas stretch out into this new space and see what happens.
Anything you’re ready to let go?