Moving On

35,000 words.

A significant chunk.

That doesn’t count development time. Outlining, character development.

I’ve been working on a story for about a month, give or take. The idea was built on a snake handling church in rural Mississippi, with a reporter/podcaster coming into town to investigate a disappearance of the church’s pastor. He’d get embroiled in the culture, fall in with the church, and there’d be a lot of blood and holy terror along the way.

Well, I’m 35,000 words in, and everything is falling apart.

Writing a novel is like driving a car. You don’t need the whole road to keep going. You don’t even need a single lane. There can be gaps in the pavement, and potholes, and problems with the road, and you can still arrive at your destination. You can finish your trip. You can finish the rough draft, and then come back, and patch in the holes in revisions, and when someone sees the finished product, they don’t even see the patches.

But I came to the point in this novel where I saw the road ahead, and there are mammoth gaps ahead, that no car could cross.

Now, I could fill in the gaps now, and finish the novel, but even then, I’m not sure those gaps would be invisible to the reader. I think they would see them. Which is more rewriting, more time. Time I don’t have as an indie writer.

So, my choices:

A – finish it anyway, and worry about it next year, when I revise it before publishing

B – put it in the drawer unfinished, and move onto a new idea, that will be easier to finish before the holidays

I thought about it, and I went with B. It’s a harder decision still, because that means I almost certainly won’t get two more manuscripts written this year. Not unless I turn on the afterburners and finish one of them in like a week (which I cannot count on).

But ultimately, I’m trusting my instincts. I’m not some young pup. I’ve been doing this for years now. And my gut tells me this is the right move.

It’s not the first time I’ve had to do this, but it’s been a while, and I had forgotten the pain of having to abandon a project. But killing your darlings is not just advice for the page.