Pros and Cons of Beating a Dead Horse.

Posted March 12, 2012 by Amber in Writing / 4 Comments


I have this story.

I love it.  It’s my warm cozy place.  If I had magical powers, I would sculpt my characters and make them come to life.  I think that the long-term idea is brilliant.  The world in which these story is set is a refuge for me – I prefer it to real life very much.  I hate writing this story.

I am tired of rewriting this story.

This story has been with me in various forms since I was twelve.  Yes, that’s ten years.  This story and I have been friends for a decade.  In high school, I used to draw pictures of the characters.  In college, I sat in the caf between classes, eating strawberry yogurt and writing it whilst staring down at the vast expanse of food and students from my happy little writer’s perch.

I have chapter eleven sitting on my beside table.  I haven’t touched it in at least a month.  When I think about it, first I think “I should do that” then I think “I’m a bad writer” then I think “OMG I WILL NEVER PUBLISH A BOOK I CAN’T MAKE MYSELF FIX THE ONE I HAVE!!!!!!” My love-hate relationship with the writing of this book makes me question my validity as a writer.

Is it me?  Or is it the story?

Sometimes I think I work on a story really hard because I need to finish it for me, and when all I need to do is think about new things and write them down, that’s easy.  But going back in and rewriting is hard.  Are the characters consistent?  Am I keeping with the plot?  There are a lot of questions.  And, more than anything, I am afraid that if I walk away from this story, I will never come back to it.  It’s been in an unfinished, unedited state since 2010, and while I do work through it, I work through it very slowly.

My process starts at the writing.  I can, fact, write a fifty-thousand plus word novel in a month.  It’s been done.  Three times.  The writing of this particular story took several years to get it to a finished state.  Is it just the story?  Should I quit?


Honestly, yes, I probably should, because like the stormtroopers above, I am beating a dead horse, and I know it.  It’s redundant.  The definition of insanity is repetition with the expectation of different results.  I know what will happen if I pick up that manuscript again.  I will write a sentence.  I will go on Facebook.  I will write three words.  I will wander aimlessly around my house.  On it goes.

Will I trash the story?  Of course not; it’s been with me more than half my life and while I have come to the conclusion that it will almost definitely never get published, it is still a part of who I am as a writer.  In fact, it will probably continue to sit on my bedside table, mocking me.  Then again, that’s how most of my projects go!

Do you have any projects that you can’t seem to make yourself finish, even though you really want to?

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4 responses to “Pros and Cons of Beating a Dead Horse.

  1. David Grandits-Mahan

    That’s writing for you. I encourage you to keep at it. Partly because I also have two stories that have been with me since childhood, and they are no closer than your story to being written, but I would never give either of them up. I think the stories that are hardest to write are the ones most worth writing. They are hardest to write because they are that much more amazing, and therefore difficult to do full justice to.

    For my two stories, only one of them is a delightful and comfortable world that I would want to live in–the other is very scary and bleak. But both of them have become complex and fascinating, partly because of how long I’ve had to explore them, but partly because they have changed and expanded as I have matured as a writer. Neither story is recognizable to what they were when I first created them. I’m sure your world has done the same thing, and I would love to hear all about it sometime.

    (Yay! I posted it in the right place this time!)

  2. I know I have heard about it before, but I don’t remember very much about it. Besides, I like hearing about your stories. And if you tell me about your story, I have an excuse to talk about mine. 😛