Wednesday, January 30, 2013


On my last MS, I had my friends and CP's reading as I went - kind of. (Yes, I know that sentence was very clear!) Then, when I got a job teaching computers at a school, writing had to go to the back burner as I tried to find balance. Recently I've had a lot of CP's asking if I'd finished my MS because they want to finish reading it. Yeah - they liked it!

So, I opened it up to read it. Thought maybe I should pick it back up.
NO! I think my CP's were just being nice.
Oh man! It was horrible! Or maybe I was having a down day with myself, I don't know, but for now I've decided to put that MS on the shelf. I still love the story. There are some plot holes to fill, but mostly I think the writing could be better. I really do hope to return to that story one day but for now - we're taking a break!

When I first realized how awful it was, I was totally depressed. Like, crying-to-my-husband, I-suck, kind of depressed. LOL. 

BUT... I started to remember all the stories of my friends (you guys) of times when you've shelved an MS because you didn't think it was up to snuff. Or the amount of time and/or stress you've put into your work. And now, so many of you are celebrating SUCCESS! I love it It has buoyed me up to realize that we all need time to learn and grow.

Writing is a craft that we can constantly learn about and practice... so maybe I don't totally suck. Maybe I'm just normal.

Right now I'm writing a New Adult Contemporary novel as well as a YA romantic comedy collab. They are both so much fun and completely different from the YA fantasy I started out with, but they are helping me learn, grow and broaden my horizons!

What are you working on? Have you ever decided to shelve an MS?


Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I've shelved manuscripts for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, the story itself was the problem. and other times I just wasn't ready to write it. It's never lost or wasted time if you learned something from the experience. :)

Kyra Lennon said...

I haven't shelved anything in a while. In fact, I am taking things off the shelves and re-working on them!

You DO NOT suck. You are awesome! :D

Suzi said...

Most of my projects are shelved because I keep movin on to new things. But I intend to go back. I guess I only have one purposely shelved project-the first one I queried. But I've learned so much even since then so I will go back to it too some time. (That one was before I knew writer people so my only betas were readers, who gave good tips, but I needed much more help than that.

I'm sure you're much harder on yourself than others. Well obviously since your CPs liked it. Maybe time away will give you better perspective on how to make it better.

Hayley N. Jones said...

I have kind of the opposite situation: I'm writing the first draft of a novel with the knowledge that it is/will be terrible! I find rewriting easier than facing blank pages, so I've given myself permission to write a "barebones" draft that I can work on and fill out later, without worrying about where the plot is going. I'm trying this because previous attempts at writing a novel have ended with me shelving a 50,000 word MS because I'm convinced it's awful and I'm stuck. I don't regret shelving those novels - they weren't right for me at the time and I doubt I'll return to them, since I have better ideas now - but I'm glad I've tried another strategy and will hopefully produce a decent novel!

Peggy Eddleman said...

Your WIPs sound like so much fun!

And yes. I've totally shelved an ms. The one I shelved that was closest to being publishable and that was a story I loved--- wasn't up to snuff. And even though I had learned tons while working on it, I knew that what I needed to learn next I'd learn more quickly by writing another book, not revising that one. The revising practice needed to come with the new one. And if I did put in the crazy amount of work it would take to get it up to snuff, I knew that the book wasn't as commercial as the new one in my head. Plus, the shelved one was fantasy, and I wasn't sure I wanted to lead with that, since it might lock me in to writing fantasy. So I shelved it, and it was the best thing ever.

ilima said...

Yes, you are normal. Every author has shelved manuscripts, including myself. But I don't consider any of them wasted because I learn and grow and get better with each one. I'm glad you're having fun with your current WIPs.

Donna K. Weaver said...

And all words add to the numbers we need for practice. If you love the story concept, the time will come when you're ready to pick it up again.

And don't forget that our writing matures the more we do it. Things are actually starting to be a little easier to me--kind of like driving that car without thinking about where to put my feet. I hope that my writing will continue to improve.

Don't beat yourself up because a practice game wasn't good enough to win you the title. You'll get it.

Steph Sessa said...

This happened with me for my current WiP. I reopened it after about 6 months of working on another project. I absolutely hated it and thought I would have to rewrite the whole thing. But after re-reading and letting it sink in, I realized I had a few (major) changes to make, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it was! It was that second look that maybe me feel better about it.

S.P. Bowers said...

The only reason you think it's bad is because you've improved! You're getting better, and that means you may notice things you did wrong before but it also means you can fix them. Good luck on the new WIPs.

Jenny S. Morris said...

Oh man, Kelley's going to be disappointed. LOL. But I think if I took out my first MS I'd bawl my head off. But what I did was shelve it. Worked WAY too long on the second book. Then when I was finished with a third book, I decided to take my concept and the skeleton of my characters from book 1 and start the MS from scratch. So I kinda of shelved book 1 but it's kind of book 4. Confused? But what I found was that the writing in book one sucked. But my original idea didn't.

Rebecca Green Gasper said...

You are so all sense of the writing world! I have a couple shelved. I love the stories- hate the writing. If I pick them up again it will be to completely rewrite. But then again I am even struggling with my current WIP- I have shelved it, picked it up, rewritten it so many times it's crazy...Aww, the life of a writer :) Best

Nicole said...

Just because you're shelving it doesn't mean you'll NEVER come back to it. Like others have said, sometimes it's a great way to jump into another book. Then, you can apply those lessons to the first one down the road.

Good luck, Leigh! *Hugs*

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Every manuscript helps you grow. You aren't sucking, you're growing.
And I shelved one over thirty years ago. Pulled it out and completely rewrote it over five years ago. It became my first published book.

prerna pickett said...

we've all been there! It may take time, but some day you'll be able to get back to that manuscript.

Jessie Humphries said...

I think shelving a novel is a huge indication of growth and maturity. It's so hard, but so necessary some times. So well done, girl! Success is on the way.

Coleen Patrick said...

Big hugs Leigh! I recently shelved a wip. I do love the general story but I knew the next edit would require some major emotional digging and the theme was just too close to me. Not ready to go there yet. But I think you are doing exactly the right thing by moving forward and continuing to write. :)

Trisha said...

If you still love the story, at least you know there's a core goodness there that you can revisit. Definitely shelve it for now & return to it later when you're ready to re-write. :)

Cassie Mae said...

Girl, the one I shelved is now making me money. So there's that ;)

And sometimes it takes putting something aside in order to get a better perspective on it. YOU DO NOT SUCK! And I can tell you that as your cp and your collab partner ;) Ben's chapters are so much better than mine, haha!

Chaz will see his day someday, but never think you suck. Maybe it's all about finding your niche. Your passion. When you're passionate about finishing it, you will :D

Livia Peterson said...

I've been there many of times and when I look back, it was horrible and I know I could still do better. Writing is a craft that requires tons practice and we learn as we go on what works best and doesn't. It may be hard to do, but it's for the best.

Good luck, Leigh! I know you can do it - have faith in yourself and in your writing. You're not alone, I stuggle to find balance.

Success is headed your way! And I CANNOT wait to read your collab with Cassie! *hugs*

Krista McLaughlin said...

It's okay - it happens to all of us! I have four novels that I've had to shelve and they will probably be there permanently because they kinda suck. We learn what to do better and we write it!

Good luck with your new projects!! :)

Shallee said...

Big hugs! It's always a little disappointing to go back and realize you need to shelve a manuscript. I did this with the first book I ever queried. I always thought I'd go back to it, but when I went back to make that decision, the decision was to shelve it.

I think the ability to recognize your own growth as a writer is one of the keys to improving. So it sounds like you're doing fabulous!

Anonymous said...

Everybody shelves some work. I've shelved 3 novels and countless short stories. Every time, it felt awful, but looking back I can see the shelved work as necessary steps toward the end goal of being a better writer. It stings for a while, but it won't sting for long, especially since you're working on new projects. There's nothing like more writing to make you feel better about your writing. :)

Kaylee Baldwin said...

I am right with you here. The best advise I've been given in a while was to shelve a book I LOVE that just wan't getting offers of rep. It was hard for me, (still kind of is), but it has to be done sometimes.

Also... You have some pretty awesome cps, I'd believe them when they tell you your stories are fantastic:):)

Jolene Perry said...

I've shelved loads of projects. Sometimes they need to be put away for a long time and re-done, and others need such a huge re-write that I'm not sure I could call them the same book when I finish.
At any rate - I totally get what you mean. TOTALLY.

And the lovely part about going back to see your old writing is that you know you've grown as a writer if you can see the problems in your own writing ;-) HAVE fun w/ your new projects!

Lisa Regan said...

Work on it! Sometimes it takes time and perspective to make it better. I have one book I completely shelved but I don't feel badly cause it really is clearly bad. But there is a book I started that I really love and want to finish but have had to shelve because I have no ending. It's been 6 years and the ending has not come to me yet. I'm tempted to just start writing and see where it goes!

Cortney Pearson said...

You're so right, I definitely think we all have moments of self doubt about our abilities! And I've had one of those hubby-cry sessions too, lol!!! (One? Who am I kidding, there's been several! And each time he's so supportive, and I love it!) It's definitely a learning process, and who knows maybe you will pull that project back out in a few months and be like, man, what was I thinking, this was AWESOME!! I've shelved a few projects, but I'd definitely like to dust them off sometime, make something happen with them.

With this new project I've been working on, I keep feeling so dissatisfied with the writing, and I keep telling myself I just have to get the story down, that's all. Then I can go back and rewrite, hopefully make it better. It's interesting to me how the process of each of my projects has been so similar and yet so different all at the same time. We'll get our crap figured out, right? We will!!! :D

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Now I can read it!!

Wanna know a secret? Sometimes the passages I thought sucked the worst, people liked the best. Some of what I thought was awesome...people kindly said, "It's nice." That's a euphemism for big fat yawn. But I have plenty that I have shelved because I'm not feeling them.

But my money (if I was a betting gal) is on the work is just fine.

clarbojahn said...

I've shelved mus that had queries for them and I then I realized the topic was too popular and wouldn't market. Boo hoo. And then there was the one which should have been an early reader and I don't know any of the rules for that. So I shelved it. Now to start on square one again.

Good for you to keep working on your writing. :)

Adeeva Afsheen said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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