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The Joy of Letting Go

Brenda St John Brown

I have a manuscript I wrote after SWIMMING TO TOKYO that I've been trying to edit and rewrite and generally turn into something publishable since before Christmas. In a way, it's the book of my heart and, because of that, wow, how I've TRIED with this book. My former agent read it and liked it, but admitted she didn't think she could sell it. I signed a publishing contract for it, myself, only to have the publisher pretty much implode. Then I thought, "Well, I could publish it, myself. In fact, I should publish it, myself."

But then there's the matter of editing and rewriting and turning it into something publishable -- all of which are normally my favorite parts of the whole writing process. I'm a TERRIBLE first drafter. Editing is so much more satisfying for me. Except with this book. With this book, I open Word (figuratively) kicking and screaming. If I open it at all. Last night I had hours free to write and caught up on Jane the Virgin, instead. Today, I opened the document and promptly started playing with the puppy.

At which point I decided to take the dogs to the hills and have a think with myself while the wind blew away the cobwebs (and nearly turned the puppy into a kite, but that's another story). Once I decided to be honest with myself, it was easy. I don't want to rewrite or revise this book. Not because it's hard, but because I wrote that book nearly four years ago and I don't want to live in that world again. That dread I feel every time I open that manuscript? That's not how I want to approach my work day, plain and simple.

I had a fleeting thought at the top of a hill that deciding to file this manuscript could be construed as giving up. But then the wind blew that thought away and replaced it with this: Just because I've published a book doesn't mean I must write with that aim. Some things, I can write for the simple sake of it. This is one of those things. I may go back to it one day. Or I may not. And either way is okay.

It's no surprise that since I've decided this, I feel lighter in a way I haven't in weeks. I have a mammoth task of drafting a book, but the fact I'm excited about it is, on this random windy Wednesday, the best feeling in the world.