I am a writer. I don't think I've ever completed a novel.
A long time ago I finished the first draft of a novel that may have just barely had 50k, but I abandoned it after the second draft. Well, to be honest I plan to go back to it one day, but that was around 6 or 7 years ago, so who knows?
From there, it was another project that I started, then stopped, then started something else, then stopped, then there was something for a competition (that I lost) then stopped and so on. This pattern continued from about grade 7-10. It gets really fuzzy after a while, but I remember clearly starting and stopping the first novel that I had decided to take extra seriously (which meant writing in a word doc instead of my Wattpad account), then starting another project - which I previously wrote about in my NaNoWriMo post - which ended the same as the other. I did make some milestone progress on that one, but in the end, it’s sitting somewhere collecting dust in my files.
My most recent project has ended up the same, after 16k words. I usually stop working on projects because my interest starts leaning towards something else, but this isn’t the case. I’ve simply stopped writing (mostly) for the time being. I still have short burst of inspiration, dumb little poems that make me happy, thoughts and phrases that float through my head sometimes that I just have to write down etc. you know… the usual writer stuff.
I am a writer, even though I have never finished a novel.
I’ve finished novellas, but just first drafts. I don’t have any solo fiction work published either. I don’t have a list of lit mags that trail under my name in my bio, and I’ve sort of become disillusioned with submitting work. Not because if I get one more rejection my confidence will be destroyed forever, but simply because I don’t think that system was made for me. I don’t enjoy writing under specific themes or trying to fit my work into a box. For now, I think I’ll focus on building a portfolio of work that I could potentially submit one day. Some genreless pieces… maybe.
Recently, I focused a lot on writing down ideas that I’d like to write. Quotes I’d like to try to collage, concepts I could turn into novels, title ideas, phrases, scenes, names. Anything that interests me really. And though there is something saddening about being a creator with a book full of ideas and no artistic products, I know that they’ll always be waiting for me, whenever I’m ready to look back at them.
I am a writer, even though I don’t write every day.
I don’t know how common it is to not finish books. Sometimes it feels like I’m alone in this pattern, like I’m the only person who sits down and starts and restarts novels over and over again. Everyone else has first drafts, published work and so many cool things. I have a bunch of wasted potential and killer (if I do say so myself) story concepts that I might never finish, and that’s very disappointing to me sometimes. Why can’t I just force the story I know I have onto a page? Some people write 200,000 words in a few months and I struggle to even make it to 20,000 over the years. Maybe I’m just not cut out for this work. But in reality, that’s just a silly notion. I know I’m not the only person who struggles with middles and endings, who has 20+ unfinished and unstarted WIPs begging for some TLC. I couldn’t be.
I am a writer, and I don’t write.
I’m sure this is something we can all relate to. I don’t think I’ve ever written consistently, and there’s no tips or tricks for me to start writing or stick to a schedule. It just takes a little determination and (most of all) the need to do it. It’s something that washes over me in waves, and I’m in a bit of a drought right now. But that’s okay, I’ve seen worse times. The time for me to write will come again. A sprint, or a daily word count or deadline might push me a little to start for a day, but in the long run, they’re leading me off a cliff.
The last time I worked on my novel, would have to be maybe April of this year? Maybe before that. The last time I worked on anything narrative related would have to be the script I wrote last week. It was four pages long. The last time I took such an extensive break from writing would be going back to my Wattpad days, where sometime between 2016-2017, I stopped writing. I was guilt free and clueless as to why I had stopped. I guess I just didn’t feel like it anymore. Then suddenly one day, while browsing through stories on the app, I remembered ‘Hey, I can write stories on this thing!’ and got back into it. It was simple, it was peaceful, it was fun. I don’t think that leaving novels unfinished hurt as much back then as they do now. I was free from the shackles of word counts, deadlines, submissions and the public eye. I wasn’t trying to build a career for myself, I just wanted to write. I miss that a lot.
I am a writer, but I don’t have anything to share.
You know, sometimes I feel like I’m running out of time. I’ll never be able to cement myself as a writer in the world, my career will be over before it starts, I won’t get accepted by any fancy lit mags and by the time I’m ready to share my work with the world, they’ll shun me for being too old. I’ll be left with only missed opportunities, my life will be over and I’ll have nothing to show I was here.
"You have to remind yourself sometimes that you can start writing at any age. You can start submitting at any age. You can start a career at any age. There’s no age restriction to trying new things."
You’re never too old to do something new, no matter what it is. The stories of the 70 year old's and 80 year old's submitting to literary magazines, getting their first acceptances and finally getting their novels published are truly something to behold. I’m not gonna be 80 for another 62 years. Seeing as I’ve already forgotten the first half of 2021, I’ve definitely got some long years ahead of me. Sometimes people say that one day you grow up and everything has just changed. You’ll wake up, and all your good years will be behind you, in one quick snap, and that’s it. Maybe it is like that. I’m not old, I wouldn’t know, but I like to imagine that I’m taking my time with things. Slowly soaking it all in and really living. I’ll be ready in time. I know I will be.
One day I’ll jump up and write something so beautiful that it’ll bring tears to my eyes. One day, I will write something as moving as my favorite poem. One day, I will read my poetry in front of a crowd proudly, knowing that it can stand with all the others who share their work, and I’ll be utterly happy about it. The time will come, but it is not now. I’m taking a break right now.
I am a writer, and I have nothing to be proud of . . . yet.
The cycle of starting a new project, being so confident that this will finally be it - a.k.a the novel that I will publish and hold in my hands one day - and then slowly losing interest and starting some new project that I will ‘definitely’ finish for sure next time, had to end at some point, and I’m kind of happy it did. I have so many unfinished projects I want to restart and new ideas I want to pursue. But for now, I’m exploring the other creative sides of me. I’m getting into film more, I want to start drawing, making collages, mixing sound and beats, just generally doing new things that I have always shied from. It might feel like the end of the world, having this mountain of abandoned wips looking down on me and judging me for moving on.
But in reality I haven’t moved on and I haven’t abandoned anything. I’ll go back to it one day, and even if I can’t, the ideas are always written down somewhere, where someone else can adopt them. I have all the time that’s left in my life, and it may not be infinite, and I don’t know if it’ll be plentiful, but I’ll spend it doing what I love. Even if all those books remain unfinished forever, I enjoy the time I spent with them. I enjoyed the joy they gave me, and the things they taught me, and I hope they can help me in my creative journey elsewhere. Who knows, maybe unfinished work is just a part of my process. The thing that matters most is that I enjoyed creating them.
To all my abandoned WIPs, thank you for teaching me. I appreciate it. You’re not a disappointment, or an embarrassment. You’re a mark in a very long journey for me and I’ve learned a lot.
I am a writer, and I love writing.
And I will always continue to do so.
is a Canadian-Jamaican student, slowly making her way through the writing world. She aims to not only write, but be impactful and play her part in making the world a less judgemental and more accepting place for people everywhere.