To Shelve or Not To Shelve

I LOVE my critique partners. Can I just start by saying that? They have become my greatest friends and have been such great motivators, supporters, and help for my writing. So Liz, Morg, Anne, Juliana, and Ryan? Love you guys!

I have a YA fantasy I wrote a few years back, queried, rewrote it, queried, rewrote it, etc., and I finally gave up in pursuit of a new story. Last week Liz Briggs, the one and only (Love ya, Liz!), suggested I submit it again and got me to pull the story back out again. I'M SO GLAD SHE DID!

(Just because it's so pretty, here's the cover design I won from a blog somethingorother a while back. Sigh.)




It's so interesting going back to a ms after having a break for at least a year from it. I've heard from several sources that it's good to take a break from a ms before going to back to edit or query it, and I totally agree! I have such a fresh outlook on the story, I'm able to see much better what needs to be cut, added, changed, etc. I have a lot of physical tells (My stomach knotted, my heart raced, etc.), and a few places where transitions weren't quite as smooth as they could be. In short, I'm an avid believer in letting a ms sit for a while. Stephen King has said to let it sit for at least six months. Before, when I heard that I was like NO WAY can I do that! I was always in such a rush to get this out, to get an agent before someone else comes up with a story similar to mine. But if a story isn't ready, that's not going to happen anyway. It's better to take your time and make sure you do things right the first time. I'm really looking forward to getting STOLEN TEARS spiffed up again and start putting it out there once more.

Have you ever shelved a project only to come back to it? How long do you wait before editing or querying a ms?
Cortney

17 comments

Rena said...

Yes, I have shelved a project then gone back. It's just amazing how you can see the projects so much better for giving them time like that. I give myself one full first draft between writing and editing now. It's been very helpful. Amazing really.

Donna K. Weaver said...

I also love my critique group. I've learned so much from them and they've been an invaluable resource to me. Hopefully I'm giving back a well.

Leigh Covington said...

Glad you pulled it back out. The cover is great. I have one I've shelved that I know I'll go back to. I'm tempted to now, I just can't decide if I should wait till I've finished this other one or not. Hard decisions!

Elizabeth Briggs said...

<3 I'm so glad you're working on Tears again!

Cynthia said...

I'm glad to hear you've reunited with your former WIP, and that you're approaching the project with fresh eyes.

I decided to shelve my last WIP for good, but that's only because I worked on it for a very long time and we were both getting really tired of each other.

Daisy Carter said...

Yes, I sometimes consider going back to one of my old manuscripts and trying again. I haven't done it (yet), but I do sometimes wonder if I could, with fresh eyes, find the problem spots and fix them.

Good for you for taking the time to let your MS sit! I have a hard time with that, too, but it really does do wonders when you leave it alone for a while. Hope you have great success with it!

Morgan said...

Ohhhh... Love YOU, Cort! You're amazing. And Tears is amazing. I'm so glad you're working on it again. And I'm seriously going to change the way I write now. I see now how important it is to let projects sit. Best. Editing. Tool. Ever.

<3

Chris Edgar said...

I like what you say about waiting until the story is ready from your own perspective -- in my experience, because my own writing is really about my own journey (although having people listen to my songs is definitely a welcome side benefit), it makes sense to wait until the song is ripe in my own mind.

Jessica Ruud said...

The book looks amazing!! How did you find your critique partners? I'm at the point where I really need some :) I would love to make good friends too.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Congratulations!
My critique partners are awesome. One of them even helps me at the outline stage.
I wrote one manuscript over thirty years ago and forgot about it. When I found it again five-six years ago, I decided to rewrite it. That story became my first published novel.

Trisha F said...

Pretty sure I left a comment here but I had an error...so if I repeat myself forgive me! I have experience with leaving some manuscripts for good amounts of time. Some have been left for WAY more than just a year, and those are ones that are so messy I wouldn't know where to start. They're probably total rewrite jobs. Anyway, I definitely agree it's important to give your MSs a break sometimes and return to them with fresh eyes.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Glad you're picking it up again. I have a project I've been working on for 10 years that I'm just getting ready to query. It's my first manuscript and I've let it sit for long periods of time and then seen it in a different, better light. Fingers crossed for you.

Rebecca Barrow said...

I'm a big believer in letting projects sit, too. I used to be like "WAIT?! Six months?!" too, but I've learned now! I've found the best way to pass the time is getting started on something new. Good luck revisiting this story--it's so nice to hear how excited you are for it :)

Misha Gericke said...

Yeah my standard method is to let one project sit while working with another. This usually means that I don't have to wait quite as well before going back to the shelved ones. :-)

Juliana L. Brandt said...

Yes!! I have a completely different outlook on Cadaver Dog now and the changes I'm making are amazing :) I'm so happy you're getting back to this book!

Kelley Lynn said...

Yay for going back to a project!!! I've never gone back to a project I've shelved. Too many new ideas :) haha. Someday though, perhaps.

Jenn Soehnlin said...

I love rereading old stuff, because it really helps me see how I've grown as a writer.

Yay for returning to this writing project and getting it all spiffed up with all the new things you've learned! :)

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