Letting Go Of The Books That Die
I don’t mean the ones they’ve written and published. the act of writing is their conception, their publication is birth, and we all expect that each should have it’s time in the sun – either dying in early childhood or growing old and dying a righteous death having been read many, many times.
I’m listening to the audio of Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic” and just had my own “Aha!” moment. She was explaining that after “Eat, Pray, Love” she had a wonderful story planned but then reality struck and put that planned story on hold. It wasn’t until about two years later that she managed to go back to her story but, by then, it was gone.
“Would you sit around in a box for two years while your collaborator blew you off?” She asks.
What is the Shelf Life of an Idea?
Her neglected idea had hit the road. She then explains that inspiration, while it is allowed to swiftly enter your life, it must also be allowed to depart just as quickly. Rather than wail and lament when this happens, she explains we should mourn quickly and move on.
I asked my original question because I have ideas for books that have been left to wait. I have outlines, texts written, and boards of images created for these stories that I dreamed up years ago when inspiration struck as I was working on other stories.
Ballantine’s Day is one. 23,000 words to edit and Tracey Ballantine could be born. I have another with 14,000 words, and another story with 10,000. I haven’t wanted to let go of them because I’d put so many words into them but I haven’t found the time to breathe that first breath of life into them.
Have they died? Can they be revived? Should I let them go? Is this file of stories simply a graveyard?
I don’t know the answers to these questions.
I don’t know if these stories will ever be born or if perhaps they are simply literary miscarriages that should be mourned quickly and forgotten. I just don’t know.
What I do know is I am not the same person who started those stories. I remember her, but everything about her is gone from me. I have traveled through several years of life’s battles and grown into someone she couldn’t even relate to. I don’t know if I’m capable to revisiting that woman and finishing her work and, even if I did, would it be healthy to spend any more time in her mind?
Again, I just don’t know.
Have you ever had an unborn book that died? How did you deal with it?