Whenever my fellow writers are bummed about a book, whether that book itself is not going well in the writing, or it’s not getting the desired attention from agents or editors and they’re having a hard time moving on to a new project, I have a habit of saying “No book or story is ever a waste of time if you learned something from it and improved your craft.”
It’s something I believe in–most of the time. Which is why I’ve been having SO many issues with wasted time this year. As November inches toward the end of the month, I’ve thrown away around 70k words this year on projects that I didn’t at all feel had enriched my craft or taught me anything. It’s been totally frustrating.
I’m the sort of person who NEEDS a reason for things. Religious beliefs aside, I like to think that most stuff happens for a reason (which presupposes that something other than chaos theory rules the universe). I can bear all sorts of stress, frustrations, and hardships if I can figure out WHY it happened, what I was supposed to get out of it.
Then yesterday morning, while I was brushing my teeth, it hit me what I got out of this year. If I hadn’t had problems with Revelation (which was supposed to be the next story in the Mirus series), if I hadn’t had problems with the first draft of Devil’s Eye, I would never have gone back to figure out the specifics of why Mick is the way he is; I would never have realized he was involved in this resistance movement; I would never have figured out Isla’s connection to the rest of the series (she’s the heroine of the anthology story I’m putting out in February); I would have just kept right on moving along on the plot path I was taking and my entire series metaplot would have been totally screwed because I was writing about the wrong group!
I cannot tell you how much better this makes me feel. Like, astoundingly better. Like I can finally let go of the perceived failures because I know what I needed to get from them. Dude, what a load off!