Wandering Eye: my struggle with staying true to my current manuscript


I love my book, don’t get me wrong.

And I want, more than anything, to finish it well.

But, oh my, I’m having such a hard time not working on my next piece. I’ve started dreaming about that character and waking up in the middle of the night to scribble down ideas about that story instead. I feel like this girl, looking toward something in the distance.

Now, this isn’t exactly a new feeling. Every time I hit the 50-60% mark in my manuscripts, I start to see the end. I usually know my plot points pretty well and I don’t have to do much of the more difficult figuring-out-how-to-get-them-there type of stuff (something that drives me crazy, but I really do love). So, at this point I begin to look forward to what’s next. Normal. Yes, very normal. And for the last two books, looking forward has been to the same characters (since I’m writing a trilogy). So,ย  it hasn’t felt as much like cheating.

I suppose since I’ve never had these problems in my actual relationship (with my husband) that they have to come out somewhere in my life. The wandering eye, looking toward what might be more fun, what’s new, what’s fresh.

It’s hitting me hard. Because I’m getting totally psyched for my next project. It’s going to be fun and new and different. And after years of working on the same “story” I’m like a bored wife, cleaning up the same dirty socks. This new book is exciting, I get to make those first giddy decisions about character names and backgrounds and inciting incidents and voice. And in my current manuscript, I’m having to create a war and my characters are in difficult situations and some of them are dying and really it’s just breaking my heart.

I thought about it the other day, the “why” behind finishing a book, completing a manuscript. Sure, a large part of why I stick with a book is stubbornness, wanting to finish it for myself and my goals. I want to be able to say I finished something. It feels good. But the other reason I finish books is because of the characters. They’re important to me. You know that I have problems with writing conflict. =) So of course it seems much more enticing to not write the hard stuff and, instead, look toward the fun beginning stuff I get to write on the next book. But if I can get through that conflict, the hard parts, my character’s lives are going to be in much better places. And I care about them. I want them to be happy. I want the struggle to be over and I want the book to be the best it can be to honor them. After spending so much time with these characters in my mind, I care about them. Even the not-so-great ones.

So I will push through and stay true to my current story (because I’m soooo not one of those people that can write more than one story at a time). And when I get to move on to the new book, it’ll be a great reward. And I won’t feel like I’m cheating, because I have given my other characters the book they deserve.

I’ve left them in peace.

Thanks for reading! The piece of art at the beginning is called “Leap of Faith” by LilyMoon on Etsy.




4 thoughts on “Wandering Eye: my struggle with staying true to my current manuscript

  1. Gary Snodgrass says:

    Wonderful. You captured that feeling very well. The fun of starting is why I end up with so many false starts. Almost 3 for every book I complete. Thanks and hang in there, the end is close.

  2. John C Pelkey says:

    Don’t feel bad, everyone dreams about the characters in other stories. Only when you act on your dreams do you cheat. Worse, when going back and forth between stories, both sets of characters think you’re a cheat.

    Nice of you to think of Marissa, although she would disagree with the not so great part.

  3. Vara Helvey says:

    Your steadfast commitment to your characters is admirable, Eryn. I don’t think any of them would be in question of your faithfulness =0). I can relate to how you feel so much and I haven’t even completed one of my novels yet. Never underestimate the power of a new idea to create more energy for your current projects. That’s kind of why I have 3 different projects going right now. When I get stuck on one, I can work on another one for a little bit and sometimes that helps me get through my block. Creativity begets more creativity. You are so good at keeping your goals, you can afford to “cheat” a little here and there. I am so excited to read the last book, whenever it is ready!

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