How do you know when it’s time to stop writing something? Is it when the very thought of it fills you with a sense of paralysing ennui? When you can’t imagine ever being interested in the characters? When the plot makes no real sense? When, after writing several drafts, you still have nothing more than one or two images that seem powerful to you – and no story, no emotion, no thrills?
Or should you never give up? Should you always finish what you started? Should you power on through, ignoring those feelings, ignoring the problems, just fighting to get to the end of it?
A lot of writers say you must ALWAYS finish what you start. I am not so sure. With this current project, I feel that when I started it, I had a particular idea in mind, and that idea has failed on a number of levels. It just wasn’t a good enough idea to sustain a whole novel. Plus, it was too directly autobiographical – writing it well means writing about myself in a way that no longer feels relevant or important to me. And at the same time I can’t get enough distance to see what I might change or how I could make it work better.
I have learned a hell of a lot from trying to write this story. But now I think it is time to put it away. Maybe next year, or the year after, I will dig it out again. Maybe then I will be able to see exactly where I went wrong and how I can put it right. But for now… it’s Sayonara baby.