I'd been struggling for two years with a novel I was writing on contract, unable to find my way, when I finally confessed to my editor that the book just wasn't working. "Do you think you could write something else?" she asked. Strangely, that simple solution had never occurred to me. After all, I had invested 300 pages and hundreds of hours in the book, and the thought of abandoning it seemed obscene. Days later, officially released from the unwieldy mass of my failed manuscript, I started from scratch. Blank page, new premise; new characters, voice, and setting. The freedom proved exhilarating, and the result was No One You Know, a novel about the stories we tell ourselves and those that others tell for us. It's also about math, and the dangers of literary ambition. Writing it was a joy and a relief.
Our impulse as writers is to attempt to salvage the words, to make good on the promise we made to ourselves when we penned the very first line. While there is beauty in perseverance, sometimes the best thing you can do for a story is let it go, and give yourself the freedom to begin again.