Let's say, just for the sake of discussion, that I'm married to George Clooney. It's true, I am an optimist, but it could happen, and my current husband knows that George Clooney is at the top of my laminated list.
Okay, as long as we're doing magical thinking, let's make this more interesting -- let's say YOU are married to George Clooney. We are all now very jealous because he's kind, movie star-handsome and most of all – super-supportive of your writing career.
But, one dark and stormy night Ryan Gosling shows up on your doorstep. He whispers wickedly sweet nothings in your ear, flashes his six-pack abs, and begs you for one delicious night of passion.
What do you do?
I don't think anyone would be critical if you succumbed to the seductive prowess of Mr. Gosling. Your friends and writing buddies would probably encourage you to go for it. They'd even offer to periodically text you with helpful and encouraging tidbits of advice.
Sure, there would be a few who would say you are betraying Mr. Clooney, but you could say they are just jealous.
On the other hand, if we return to the original scenario, and I was married to Mr. Clooney and was being seduced by Mr. Gosling, my BFF would call me on my game. "Hey, you crazy commitment-phobe," she'd say, "It's time to get back to the real world and finish what you've started. "
You see, she knows the truth. She knows how hard it is to write and rewrite a manuscript to completion. It takes courage. It takes commitment. It takes focus.
Which brings us to my current situation – I am in the process of rewriting my rewrite of my work-in-progress, which, for our purposes here, we shall call "Mr. Clooney." I love the protagonist, who has developed into such a strong and intriguing character. Her love interest has also surprised me throughout the story, and if I manage to stick to my current writing schedule, I will finish the rewrite in the next three weeks.
However… now, with the finish line clearly in sight, I've had a sudden burst of creative inspiration. It's a brilliant idea for a new book. I love the protagonist. She is amazing, and fresh and new. I call this idea "Mr. Gosling."
Not surprisingly, "Mr. Clooney" is starting to feel like a stale, longterm relationship. I know every sigh my heroine makes, every under-his-breath utterance by the hero, every plot twist, and every dark moment by heart. But "Mr. Gosling" is fresh and new. I get goose bumps when I think of another new plot twists and scenes.
I have made a commitment to the telling the stories of the characters I've created in "Mr. Clooney." And while a break from rewriting and reworking could be restorative, it might also allow me to avoid crossing the finish line.
It's a lesson in courage and commitment for me as a writer not to abandon this project. I just hope I have what it takes to remain faithful to Mr. Clooney. It may be the only long-term relationship he ever has.
Are you currently involved in a similar love triangle? I welcome your tips and suggestions.