Writing Journey

When Something Just Isn’t Right…

I still remember the night I suddenly, like really suddenly, just started to feel better about failing at querying for 7th time. I can’t explain it, but somehow, I just wasn’t upset at the notion of having to file DISCORD away anymore.

Not because I didn’t love it. But because it didn’t matter. I have 40+ other ideas floating around in my head. And it’s like, I got some bites this last time. That means there’s hope. And I can keep going. And I have all these other ideas, and while it’s terrible to have to shelve something I slaved over, it’s not the end of the line.

I really do feel good about continuing on, as crazy as that probably makes me sound. I know I made this big spiel about trashing all my other stories (except for HOW DEEP IS MY DARKNESS and RAVEN) and just moving on and forward with my life. And I know some people think I’m crazy for it.

I get bugged about DISCORD. But there is one small thing that bothers me about the story.

It’s the same thing that bothers me about HOW DEEP IS MY DARKNESS. I mean, that story has a couple of things that bother me, and I intend to go into more detail one day, but anyway, I had two villains in DISCORD. One worked for the other. A reconstituted male (don’t ask) and a woman.

Her motivations are not entirely clear. It was pointed out to me, and I can see it, I just don’t know how to fix it without rewriting the story from scratch, and I like it too much to do that. I rather shelve it then change it. It’s like the first story I queried – SUDDEN FURY – it’s horrible, but I love it so much anyway.

This is the weird thing though. I’m great at villains. They were always the best parts of my stories back in the early days, often usurping the main characters and completely stealing the show – something I’ve only recently gotten better at. I had never written a terrible villain until HOW DEEP IS MY DARKNESS in August 2013, and then I did it again last year with DISCORD.

While I wouldn’t call the main villain in DISCORD terrible, she just didn’t have the pop I wanted, and I don’t know what happened. The male villain was exactly what I wanted him to be, but I admit, I forced him in the story. He probably didn’t quite fit, and I guess now that I’ve gotten a ton of distance from this story and it’s shelved, I can kind of see it. I had taken him from the previous year’s NaNo story because he was amazing. But he lost something when I transferred him.

So, that is the reason why DISCORD is permanently shelved – if I have to rewrite it to fix it, it would be a different story. Then I might as well just write a different story to begin with.

It pains me a little to say this. I don’t like to think that I did all this work and put myself through querying hell only to realize that the agents who turned my story down were right – it’s not good enough.

I knew querying that story would be different than the other 6 times, so I don’t regret it. Like I said, it gave me hope. I’m still writing and I really thought I would have given by now. But I couldn’t admit that there was something off about the story until I shelved it. Then I could look at it without fear and see that, yes, it’s really good – some parts. But it’s also a little off.

You know like when you’re trying to align printer cartridges or whatever else people align. It’s just…off.

The thing is – I have to believe that I can do better. I HAVE to do better. Otherwise, I need to quit.

I know that’s a lot of pressure, but that’s the reality of this situation. My friend who keeps pushing me to self-publish doesn’t understand that I can’t put something out in the world that I can find something wrong with.

Before you think I’m crazy, I actually still can’t find anything wrong with my last vampire story, and if I could talk myself into writing the other 3 books in the series, I would find a way to get that out into the world because I have complete confidence in it. Obviously, that’s not happening because I’m still too burnt out to go back into vampire land. Plus I’m afraid I won’t make it out again anytime soon if I do.

But this is why I’m completely serious about shelving most of my stuff. HOW DEEP IS MY DARKNESS and RAVEN are only not shelved because I believe rewriting them will make them better, and I love the ideas enough to try. I honestly don’t think rewriting DISCORD will make it more amazing, so there is nothing else to do with it.

In any case, there is only one, short, scene in that vampire story that I would change. I feel THAT good about it.

I want to feel that good about something again.


  • Sunflower Michelle

    Just because you let something out into the world doesn’t mean that you don’t feel like it could be better—there are parts of Pearl that I read after I published it that I know I could’ve tweaked but figured it was good enough for what I’m able to do writing-wise now. You’re *always* going to find something wrong with it because you’re the writer and writers are self-sabotaging, neurotic little mole people.

    • Krystal Jane

      Mole people. 🙂

      I know it doesn’t sound like it, but I do understand. I don’t think my vampire stories are perfect. There’s just nothing that nags at me about them.

    • Krystal Jane

      Right. That’s kind of how I feel about most of my story graveyard – just a nagging thing. Totally relate to the drafting nags!

  • Michelle Tran (@michelletwrites)

    It’s good that you’ve come to these realizations and are at peace with it. Each and every story, and each and every query is one step forward to reaching your dreams. It’s just weather conditions aren’t perfect. Things look foggy. You don’t know when you’ll get there, but if you keep going you WILL get there. And you know what’s awesome about having all these stories? You can go back and revise and they could be a NYT bestseller. Really this industry is one part luck, 2 parts tenacity/stubbornness, and 1 part hope 🙂 I read a success story about a guy who had 5 shelved stories and after landing an agent, got them all published. Crazy!

    • Krystal Jane

      Well, I have the stubborn part down! 😉 It’s true nothing ever has to be shelved forever. And double true to the fog. But we can’t quit in the middle of it, right?

  • Jodi (@perkjo)

    Every time I paint, I see flaws, and I will smooth them out and blend a little more here and thicken some lines there until I’ve just about ruined my painting that, yes, was flawed, but quite beautiful the way it was. Sometimes, for better or worse, you just have to sign that baby and declare it done, because the alternative is to reshape it into something it simply isn’t.

    Great post Krystal, and SO relatable.

    • Krystal Jane

      Thank you, Jodi! ^_^

      That is it exactly! Discord, in particular, feels exactly the way I wanted. I rather it have flaws – not that anything is ever perfect anyway- but I rather it be a little off then be turned into something I didn’t mean for it to be. It’s a perfect analogy! Especially since I’ve done that with many paintings being the amateur that I am. 🙂

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