The Abandoned Manuscript Paradox

I said I was going to put my older WIP away so I could work on something new – what would possibly be my fourth novel-length manuscript. It was a good idea, and I am quite pleased with the month and a half I spent connecting to fresh ideas. After all, I had been working on my previous (#3) for nearly two years without any break. I wanted to finish it because I feel there is as much to be gained from persevering through the many drafts of one manuscript as there is from writing new stories and utilizing the skills I’ve gained to make the newer better. There is wisdom to both approaches, I think, which is why I moved on to #4 but have not in fact abandoned #3.

Call it the abandoned manuscript paradox. That’s the best label I can come up with at the moment. While I don’t know if the story I’ve written (#3) has any viability in the market, it is the strongest work I have to show. It is presently with a second editor and I look forward to her comments and how they will assist me with a third major revision. I expect further beta reader input and critique swapping. I will likely hire a developmental editor in November to help me with some more detailed revisions once I have addressed the broader ones. That will cost me lots of money, but I see it as a writing lesson. After all, people spend tens of thousands on university education to get a career of choice – I see this as being no different; investing money and time to begin a career I am very passionate about feels as right as breathing!

What about #1 and #2, you might wonder? Suffice it to say #2 is fodder for what will be a fantasy series I plan to write later. #1 actually turned into material for my fantasy world’s mythology and I intend to incorporate a lot of it into some of the deeper layers of mysticism I will reveal as I go.

But #3 and #4. (You might be wondering why I don’t have names for my manuscripts. Actually I do, but I like to keep them secret so that there will be more of a surprise when I announce an eventual debut date.) Now that #3 is with an editor I will be turning to some maps and projects for this website that I’ve put on hold while I did my revisions. If I dabble in writing this next month or so, it will be doing some more on #4. It will grow, I’m sure, and give me some more perspective for #3 for when I return to it in the early fall.

Writing is all about layers. You must be close to your work but maintain the right distance too. We move through different seasons of thought and emotion and our ideas evolve, so it is good to flow and be fresh, and that means in our projects we have to avoid getting too static. But at the same time we don’t want to give up on our work, since many of the books that shine on the shelves are the result of years of work, several revisions, collaboration with numerous individuals, and proper periods of rest and inspiration from other projects, life experiences, movies, TV shows, books, writing courses, discussions – all the little things that move you a lot.

So here I go. It is wonderful to get to my maps. I’m already looking forward to tomorrow’s cup of coffee during dawn’s dark hours, where my pens, paper, and years of notes await.


About John Robin

John Robin is an epic fantasy writer, professional editor, and lover of imaginary worlds. He write stories about magic and myth, human suffering and the power to rise above it. He loves world building, coffee shops, mathematics, chess, and is an avid author community builder.
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