I often tweet about how often I put aside projects to chase something newer, more exciting, fresher— the potential in those fleeting moments outshining the twenty thousand words of stale investment. It’s always ten to twenty thousand words in before I realize the story needs more time to percolate. To shape up. Abandoned, they stay in my brain and word processor, orphaned characters muddling through a miasma of half-formulated conversations and the white space of barely there settings.
That doesn’t mean they aren’t working— that my subconscious isn’t working on them.
I like starting over.
I also fear starting over.
Next week, I’m uprooting my family yet again, from Texas to nearly two thousand miles away on the East Coast. This will be our third cross country move in seven years. My kids are both excited and scared, thrilled and afraid, and trying to understand why everything is boxed up. They’re too young to remember being newborn and nursing at roadstops during our first move, or sleeping through a flight like an angel at eight months. My youngest has never lived anywhere except Texas. But for the first time in three years, my husband won’t be flying out for work every Sunday night. I’ll have help during the week, my best friend’s company, and my children will have their father.
It’s worth starting over for that.
Things don’t always work out the way we plan. Things hardly ever work out the way I’ve planned, regardless of whether it’s in my writing or in my reality.
It’s okay to change the plan. It’s okay to look around and understand that things aren’t working. That you, or the story, may need time and space before it can become what you’ve envisioned. Changing the plan, changing what you’re working on, doesn’t mean you are a failure, that you’re weak or lazy or indecisive.
It just means you’re taking a different path. And that’s okay.