As the lazy months of summer come to an end, I become possessed with a crazed urge to clean/purge/organize ALL THE THINGS before the chaos of the school year starts. Usually I focus on the kids’ rooms and their shared study area, but this year I had time to focus on my home office. One of the jobs I decided to tackle was the organization of my notes/binders/folders devoted to The Fallen Princess, my young adult fantasy novel.
For all intents and purposes, I was done with The Fallen Princess in the fall of 2012. I gave it a good run: I rewrote it five times (not revised, rewrote), sent out lots of queries, and entered over a dozen contests. I had my share of requests and contest finals, as well as some great feedback from my critique group. But after working on the novel for three years without landing an agent or a publishing house, I was done.
At that point, I couldn’t bear to look at it. Fortunately, other projects kept me busy and lessened the sorrow I felt at abandoning it. But two weeks ago, when my current revisions (on a different WIP) ground to a halt, my old novel called to me. “Take another look at me,” it said. “High fantasy isn’t such a hard sell anymore, now that A Game of Thrones is so popular. And there’s a bigger market for diverse, non-Western high fantasy than there used to be.”
I have to admit, I was tempted to resurrect The Fallen Princess. I had put so much time and energy into my world-building, with pages of notes and research and history. If I could rewrite the book yet again, maybe this time it would have a better chance. Maybe I wouldn’t have to start a new project from scratch.
But after I re-read the book, I realized why it failed. It wasn’t just a hard sell, but it suffered from slow pacing, large info-dumps, plot holes, and weak secondary characters. In the year and a half since I set it aside to work on other projects, I’ve learned much more about writing.
For me, the best way I can grow as a writer is to start another book. This way I can incorporate everything I’ve learned, in terms of craft, and apply it to a new world and a new set of characters. Sometimes it takes a big leap to leave a familiar world behind, but in the end, I’ve never regretted any of the projects I’ve started.
So, for now, I’ve printed out a good copy of The Fallen Princess and put it in a nice binder. It’s sitting on my bookshelf, if I ever want to read it. But I won’t be rewriting it for the sixth time.