by Liz Johnson, @lizjohnsonbooks
In 2011 I came up with an idea for a book set on the north shore of PEI, a place I’d been to once and fallen in love with every time I looked at pictures. During the next three years, I wrote a few drafts of that story, the characters and setting becoming more and more real with every passing day. It wasn’t until 2014 that I received a contract offer from Revell, and it was another two years before the first book in the series, The Red Door Inn, released.
Now, more than a year since that first book released, I’m only five weeks away from the release of the third and final book in the series. I have to say goodbye to North Rustico—my fictional version—and the characters that have made it more real to me than the actual town.
And I want to cry.
I have to start a new series—one I’m very excited about. But it’s a little bit like being told that I have to make a new friend but have to give up one that I’ve had for years.
At some point, every author is going to have to let go of a book world and begin a new one. But that can be a difficult transition, especially when you’ve poured so much of yourself into a book you love.
Maybe you, too, have completed a series and are facing down the release of the final book. Perhaps you’ve completed a single book, queried it to numerous agents and publishers, and received just as many rejection letters. It could be that you’ve spent the last four years perfecting the same manuscript, afraid to send it out for consideration and afraid to let it go.
If you’re having a hard time moving on, allow me to offer a few suggestions.
- Give yourself a break. Literally. Take a break. Give yourself time off. I was scared to do that after writing six books in less than three years. I’d been writing, editing, and promoting nearly nonstop, and the idea of taking a month off was both wonderful and terrifying. What if I forgot how to write a book? Or worse, what if I liked it so much I didn’t want to start again? But I knew that I needed a moment—or more accurately, 30 days—to let go. What I discovered was that my break provided me an opportunity to refresh my creative well, focus on relationships that had suffered, and let my mind wander to ridiculous possibilities.
There’s no magic length for your break. Maybe you need a few days or a few months. Only you know the stress you’ve felt, the renewal you need, and the love you still carry for your last book.
- Celebrate the victories. If you’ve been offered a contract, signed with an agent or decided to go indie with your book, you know what to celebrate. But maybe your victories look a little smaller. Maybe it’s that you completed a book. (NOT a small feat, by the way.) Or maybe your victory is that you wrote every day for a month or hit the word count you were shooting for or edited your book down to your target word count.
It can be easy to overlook these successes because they may not be the big one you’re aiming for, but celebrating victories is crucial to letting go and moving on. A victory doesn’t necessarily mean you’re completely done with your book, but it’s an indicator that you you’ve reached a natural change point.
- Use the ideas you couldn’t in your last book. Have you ever had an utterly fantastic idea, so brilliant you can hardly believe you came up with it—only to discover that it can in no way, possibly fit into your current work in progress? Ever have a Texas cowboy from the Old West demand to be included in a contemporary thriller?(I’m glad I’m not alone.) Well, now that you’re letting go of the old book and moving on to the new, you’re free to use every crazy, wild, wonderful idea that you couldn’t before.Use your passion for that idea or character and run in a brand new direction.
Remember that moving on can be temporary. It’s not goodbye forever. And if you give yourself a chance, you may find that your new friend is as funny, smart, and fabulous as your old one.
How do you let go of a book that you’ve grown to love?
Moving On by Liz Johnson (Click to Tweet)
Justin’s never forgotten Natalie or the music career he always dreamed of pursuing. He’d been prepared to follow her off the island until his dad died and he was left to run the family dairy farm. He’s done the best he can with the life that was thrust upon him–but with Natalie back in the picture, he begins to realize just how much joy he’s been missing.
After Natalie’s reception venue falls through, she must scramble to find an alternative, and the only option seems to be a barn on Justin’s property. As they work together to get the dilapidated building ready for the party, Natalie and Justin discover the groundwork for forgiveness–and that there may be more than an old friendship between them. (Find it here)
Liz Johnson fell in love with Prince Edward Island the first time she set foot on it. When she’s not plotting her next trip to the island, she works in marketing. She is the author of more than a dozen novels, including The Red Door Inn, Where Two Hearts Meet, and the forthcoming On Love’s Gentle Shore. She makes her home in Tucson, Arizona. www.lizjohnsonbooks.com www.facebook.com/lizjohnsonbooks