On Making the Decision to Trunk a Novel

I looked around a little bit and concluded that I have five firmly trunked novels:

  • My Camp NaNo projects from 2012 — a Narnia-esque fantasy duology
  • The “Depressed Limo Driver and Also Racer” novel
  • The Timetravel Romance Novel I Wrote in 2011
  • The Magical Skypirates Novel
  • My Very First Novel

Until I sat down to look at my (very) messy writing folders, I didn’t realize how many novels I’d finished or mostly finished that were so wholly unsalvageable. And while it pleases me to remember them (and the half a dozen unfinished novels sitting forlornly in the 9K Hell Pit), I’m also glad to let them die with dignity. It’s not just that they have messy plots, or unlikeable characters, or premises that defy the suspension of disbelief. It’s that they were practice — works that I could cut my teeth on and experiment with. To try to edit any of those stories into something readable would be a nightmare. To try to faithfully rewrite it? Impossible.

The good news is that each of these projects is completely mineable. The skypirates novel has one of my favorite titles, which I will absolutely use again for something; the badass explorer main character was basically reimagined into the main character of the lesbian space noir. I definitely want to reuse Johnny Quickly — and his rival — as a depressed racer in a dystopian setting, but I don’t know where yet. The magical twins in the fantasy duology could do something interesting in another setting.

So with all of this said, I finally realized this morning that it is the right decision to trunk DREAMING OF EDEN. (The loss of that title alone is killing me.)

I realize that this runs contrary to my having it on my “Finish Your Shit” list for 2015 — but it’s inclusion there was exactly the problem. First off, finishing three first drafts (or in DoE’s case, seventh) seems unreasonable to me. Furthermore, I couldn’t drum up the enthusiasm for the draft.

I told the story I wanted to tell when I started submitting it places — and it doesn’t really work, just like a lot of my other trunked novels. And just like those, I’ll probably mine the novel for other projects. (In this case, the inability to modify proprietary systems built into your body. This is my favorite thing from that novel.) But trying time and time again to faithfully rewrite one of my favorite projects has become endlessly frustrating, and more daunting than I think I can realistically tackle.

I can do “cyberpunk retelling of fantasy characters” better now. I can do a “social issues regarding bodily ownership” plot with more nuance than I could then.

I can write a better story than what DREAMING OF EDEN was, as long as I just stop trying to write DREAMING OF EDEN over and over again.

So, I now have six trunked novels.

Finish Your Shit, Ashley M Hill, June 2015
So here’s our revised “Finish Your Shit” graph.

(P.S.: Alfred/Elijah was always canon. ALWAYS.)


2 thoughts on “On Making the Decision to Trunk a Novel

  1. Pingback: On the Sweet Siren Call of Doing Nothing « Cleverly Titled

  2. Pingback: Wrapping Up 2015 + Goals for 2016 | Cleverly Titled

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