Thursday, February 6, 2020

When It’s Time to Let Go by Sally Shupe

We know it’s hard to let go. Hard to let go of how we do things, because we’ve always done them that way. Or, hard to let go of those few extra pounds we’re always trying to lose. Or, hard to go in one direction when we’ve gone so far in another direction. As I write this, I am learning to let go of my son. He got engaged over Christmas and is leaving home to move to Florida. 10 ½ hours away. We’re packing up today and driving down with him and his fiancé in the morning. But, by letting go of him, I get something in return. A soon to be daughter in law! And a chance to see a state I haven’t been to before. One that is much warmer than it is where I am right now, as an extra incentive. As I thought about this, writing came to mind.

Do you have a story that is just not quite working? Are the characters being more obstinate than usual? Not talking to you, or the scene is not working out? Have you received feedback that goes against what you thought your story would be? Maybe it needs to be let go. Could the story take place in the city instead of the country? Could the hero be a surfer instead of a snowboarder? (Someone had asked my son if he was trading in his snowboard for a surfboard. He said no, in case you’re interested lol.) Could it become a suspense instead of a sweet romance? Or maybe your editor or agent has requested changes. Do you find it hard to follow their directions and let certain aspects of your story go? How do you handle letting go of a story that you’ve worked so hard on?

Just as it’s hard for me letting my baby boy go, it’s just as hard to let a story go. One that we’ve worked on for a long time. We’ve gotten close to the characters. Watched the characters, and the story, grow from an idea, to chapters, to maybe even a completed story. But do you know what you get when you let certain things go? A better story! One that resonates with more people. One that is stronger.

Step back from your story and see it from all angles. Could your story benefit from letting go? Only you know the answer to this question. It may end up looking drastically different. It may take lots more work to get it where it needs to be. But we’re writers. Writing is what we do. Once you’ve looked it over, studied the feedback from editors, agents, or beta readers, dissect the story and see if what they’ve suggested makes sense. If it does, your story just may benefit from letting go!

Are you struggling with letting certain aspects of your story go? Or, have you had to let a story go? Please share how you handled it so we can all learn, and know we’re not alone. We can encourage one another along this journey.

How do you handle letting go of a story that you’ve worked so hard on? @SallyShupe1 #amwriting #writetip #seriouslywrite

Sally Shupe lives in southwest Virginia with her husband, two grown kids, and a whole bunch of pets: five dogs, three cats, a rabbit, and birds at the birdfeeder (and the mandatory snowman when the snow cooperates). She writes contemporary Christian romance, with two completed manuscripts and others in progress. They are part of a series located in small town Virginia.

When Sally’s not writing or working full-time, she is a freelance editor for several authors who write fiction and nonfiction; students working on dissertation papers; a copy editor for Desert Breeze (now closed); a content editor for Prism (became part of Pelican); performs beta reading for various authors; publishes book reviews on her blog and with Valley Business FRONT’s monthly magazine; is a member of ACFW and ACFW Virginia; and loves genealogy, running, and crocheting.

Sally uses her love of words to write about God’s amazing love.

13 comments:

  1. Good morning, Sally!

    Your message resonates with me today, as I try to decide if I want to recraft a novel that’s been rewritten several times. It’s hard to know what to do.

    Blessings to you and your family! Florida sounds divine this time of year. Look at it this way, now you have a reason to get out of the cold weather.

    Yvonne Weers

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    1. Thanks, Yvonne! It is so hard to know what to do. Sometimes stepping back and looking at it from a different angle helps.
      Yes! I'm already planning a trip back down. Cold is no fun if it isn't snowing lol.

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  2. Oh Sally, nothing prepares you for letting go of a child. Thank you for this analogy with writing. So many things that leave me anxious when all I have to do is let go. Easier said than done, right? That's where praying that prayer of release can help. I pray it hundreds of times a day, sometimes. When I keep grabbing back things to worry about them some more I have to remember God can handle it so much better than me.

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    1. Cindy, so true. He was about 10 minutes away and I always saw him at church. Now, it'll be much harder getting to see him.
      It's so easy to say letting go of this, but the action is so hard. Constantly reminding ourselves that God can handle it brings such peace.

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  3. Oh, Sally, how I feel for you, my friend. I'm praying that your son will be happy in Florida, and that you'll adjust quickly to having him so far away. But I completely understand what you're feeling. When we moved our son from Atlanta to Pittsburgh a few years ago, I cried the entire drive home. And thankfully, in this age of technology, we can be in touch with our loved ones in an instant! :)

    Your post is excellent and such an important reminder for writers--sometimes we just have to let go and make major changes. Not easy, but in the long run our stories can become better!

    Hugs, Patti Jo

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    1. Patti Jo, thank you for your response. As I reread my post, I was wondering if it even made sense!! The GPS lied. It took us 16 1/2 hours! I have no idea why. I think there's a time warp through there somewhere, in addition to the time change lol. I did a lot better than I thought I would, but I know it was because we drove him down and I got to see where he was living, met his fiance's parents, and even his boss! And God's peace. God will take care of him and protect him. Even though I'm not there, God always is.

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  4. Letting go is hard no matter what it is. Just as you said something good can come from the process,like another daughter! Looking for the positive makes letting go bearable. Thanks for sharing. By the way 10 hours is really not that far away

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    1. Hi Sandy!! I like what you said-looking for the positive makes letting go bearable. So true! GPS says 10 hours, driving it is 16 1/2 lol. Time warp, time change, having to stop, time just doesn't add up on that trip.

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  5. Sally, I can definitely understand about letting go of a story. Also, letting go of circumstances beyond our control. I love how God gives us stories in every moment. I pray I am listening today for His nudges and won't let go of those ideas. :-)

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  6. Hi Sally! Yes, the letting go is difficult. I appreciate your thoughts on how to step back and look at new angles.

    In my manuscript, the first chapter....which I have rewritten many times...still needs work. That question of where a story should begin still trips me up. I’ve adjusted the opening with varying starting points, but I’m never quite satisfied. I’ll be considering different ways to write the first chapter. Thanks for your advice!

    Prayers for the moving trip. Daughter-in-laws are very special blessings!

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    1. Hi Sherida! Where to start a story is definitely tricky. Thanks for the prayers!

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  7. Hi Melissa! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Letting go of circumstances is huge. Yes, I'll agree and pray with you!

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  8. A very timely post for me today, Sally. I just deleted a file on a thumb drive and replaced it with a rewrite of a novel I've been working on for two years! I am now in the next stage...presenting it to an editor for feedback.

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