Most writers will, at one point or another, ask themselves: revise, or trunk? Meaning: do I put in the work to fix this manuscript up, or do I put it aside and start something new? And how do I know if it’s time to trunk?
There’s no one correct method of figuring out an answer to that question, but there is a place to start, and it’s with love.
Imagine yourself in the following scenario:
CONGRATULATIONS! You got an offer from an agent and sign with him/her. And after that, he/she wants some extensive revisions. You work on them for months. You turn them in. Agent says, “Great! Now how about fixing this, and this, and this?” So you work again. You turn them in. And if you are lucky, Agent says, “Sweet. This is ready to go on submission. Peace out, I’ll talk to you later.”
(Does anyone say ‘peace out’ anymore? I digress.)
Weeks of rocking back and forth and checking your inbox ensue. Perhaps months. But then, the day comes: your agent tells you that a publisher wants your book. SWEET.
And then you begin another overhaul. One round of revision turns into two. Two turns into three. Three (or more) turns into line edits. Line edits turn into copy edits and first pass pages and holy crap, how many times have you read this book? At least a bazillion.
Finally, you’re done. But wait. It’s still 12-24 months until that book comes out. And people are asking you about it. And you talk. You do as many blog interviews as you can. You anxiously await the book’s release. It’s what everyone asks you about. You summarize it for your dentist, your doctor, your neighbor, your mom’s friend, your friend’s brother.
The book comes out. You talk about it more. If you’re lucky, you get to go to different places and talk about it to groups of students, or groups of readers waiting for you to sign it.
(Okay, I think you get the picture.)
THE POINT IS THIS: if, with your current project, that scenario sounds tiresome to you, and you believe that you will get sick of your book after the fifth round of revisions, or the ninth time you’re asked the same question about it…trunk it.
Maybe all of that won’t happen for you. But maybe it will. And if it does, you will become frustrated and unmotivated if you do not love your book.
So don’t work on something just because you have worked on it in the past. Don’t work on it just because you don’t want to admit defeat, or because you think it will sell better than your other ideas. Don’t work on it for any other reason than that you love it wholeheartedly and believe it is amazing, because if everything goes well, you can’t ditch it and you can’t put it aside if you get tired of it. It is yours and it will always be yours.
You must, must, must be in love. All other considerations are secondary.
Veronica is the author of the NYT bestselling YA dystopian thriller series Divergent, published by Harper Collins/Katherine Tegen Books. She's also a graduate of Northwestern University, a Christian, and A Tall Person, among other things.