Monday, January 3, 2011

Holding On and Letting Go

Being in the midst of a quarter life crisis often reminds me that there is an importance balance between holding on and letting go.

Sometimes I want to keep clutching something---or someone---with all of my might, just to ensure pride or survival or rebellion (or maybe all three) , without realizing that maybe all the negative signs and emotions are the universe's way of saying "Just call it quits already. There's better out there for you."

Relationships: When I was younger, I had these idealistic pictures of relationships that were created by Disney movies, books, and poems.

Growing up and being in my first relationship made me think that those did not exist. Obviously, elements of them are exaggerated but I thought, for so long, that people just weren't happy every day with a person. That the monotony of daily life wore away that "honeymoon" excitement, that everyone takes everyone else for granted, that I simply expected too much of my romantic life.

But in my relationship now, I know, looking back, that so much of that previous acceptance came from my refusal to let go. I took more pride in the investment and did not know what was really best for me. Tearing away from the relationship was traumatic as I did not realize how much of myself with woven with another person and how distorted my idea of "healthy" was.

I had to let go to realize that I can be part of a union that brings me peace, friendship, and a day to day happiness. That maybe my childhood portraits of love weren't that crazy.

Writing: I spent around eight solid months working on the first draft of my novel. An agent read the first 50 pages and gave me polite feedback and an even more polite, "thanks, but no thanks." We ended up talking on the phone and she gave me even more feedback, all of which sent me into a whirlwind of feelings. The take home message: I would have to rewrite everything, make a stronger plot, and even give birth to some new characters.

At the time, I was devastated. My months of editing and creation all gone to waste? Those paragraphs I became attached to? And how about those non writers who kept asking me ridiculous questions about when my book was coming out?

I moped for a bit. But then I spoke to some trusted people in my life, read some author bios and interviews, and learned that this is nothing compared to what so many writers go through. Entire 500 page manuscripts are in some people's recycling bins and there are so many words that will never be seen by anyone else.

I started my rewrite last May and am so much more content with my work. There was so much I had to learn (and am still learning!) that it was almost foolish for me to think that my first attempt--ever--would be it. I think of all the writers sitting in front of their own computers, or sheets of paper, some of them writing pages that will travel; others, producing tidbits that maybe they will only see.

And I am so happy to be a part of that.

Letting go, in many instances, has been the best thing I could have done for myself. Nobody ever said it was easy or that it would even be clear when it was time to let go.

But maybe viewing the difference between holding on and letting go is a part of our own evolution. I'm not sure if I'll ever get it down perfectly, but I know I'll keep trying!


  1. This makes me feel better. I had some wonderful (and devastating) feedback from an agent. The rewrite's still sitting on my backburner - but I'm almost ready to tackle it.

    Sounds like you're definitely on the right track! Hope 2011 brings you what you need :)

  2. Letting go definitely can be hard, but a lot of times it's worth it!

    And yes, how the non-writers drive me nuts with their questions. When you try to explain to them how complicated writing and publishing can be, they look at you like you've got 10 heads ;-)

  3. First of all, that's wonderful that you got such great feedback on your novel. Your writing must have been good, despite the problems with structure and character. Way to go!! And keep going..!!!

  4. You have such a great mindset! I loved this post.

  5. you have the right thinking behind you to be successful, both in relationships and with being a writer.

  6. Hi,
    I have read somewhere that the rejected materials are still worth keeping, for someday some idea or or some style of writing may inspire to use these same material, giving it a new twist, a new style, and a new look, just like an old wine in a new packaging.
    As you grow you will definitely come across, new ideas, and then you would find that not only one book, but you have many waiting in demand to be published.
    We were all very stupid when we were young, only to realise what big fools we were as we grow older.
    I am glad that you have realised so many things about your life, and it is indeed a great way to begin a new year.

  7. Great post, Saumya!!

    I think it's probably even easier to learn to let go in the writing, because you learn you can create something even better when you give yourself permission. Relationships on the other hand, you can only ever control half of the equation...and it's tough when you fall in love with a half that isn't right for you.

  8. I enjoyed your introspection here as I can relate. When I first started ripping and shredding my work, it hurt. After a while and a lot of frustration, I've come to not be so attached to my words.
    I am amazed and applaud your efforts for all the time you are putting into rewrites. I need more of that patience and stillness in my life as I write.
    I know it will pay off for you!

  9. Wow. The relationship parts sounds verbatim to my life. Lots in common in that department. Sometimes it takes the most strength to let go rather than to hold on.

  10. Ah, so good to know that there are a lot of us out there! My favorite part about blogging is meeting people who have shared similar, life altering experiences.

  11. this happens with everyone
    just keep learning and learning
    let go
    its difficult
    happy new year

  12. your post reminds me A movie's dialogue(though its not strongly related to the post yet a connotation is here)

    ''sometime we live by keeping remember the things and sometime we live by forgetting them''

    so may be its the matter of survival and we should be careful enough to establish this balance.

  13. I love your writing. I'm an aspiring writer, too, though I don't think I could ever sit myself down and write a novel.

    I know how disheartening it can be to put what you feel is your all into a piece of work, only to have it torn apart (even if politely). It's like they are critiquing you and not your work, haha.

    Sometimes, with relationships, it is better (though not necessarily easier) to let go.
    Good luck, Happy new year.

  14. Thank you so much, Sofi :) You are so right about the way it feels when your work is torn apart. Ah! You can definitely write a novel. The blogging world has helped me so much in accomplishing some of my writing goals.

  15. Boy, can I relate to this post! Letting go of a manuscript isn't easy. And how do we know if we should let it go or re-work it? I struggle with that. I'm so glad you've found peace with your relations ships AND the manuscript! We're all works in progress, right?

  16. I've let go of relationships and manuscripts, so I can relate to this post. As human beings are writers, we must learn from our mistakes and move on. How great you learned what I didn't figure out until a decade later - at least on the writing front.

    Happy new year.

  17. Hi Saumya...glad to meet you. Thanks for the follow. Its nice that you are learning to let go both in your relationship and manuscript. Trust me its the best thing to happen when you let go, then you are giving other (better) things a chance to enter both your life and manuscript.

    I have let go of so much in my current WIP, deleted chapters that I had spent days writing, but I feel its better for it. What is not good should be allowed to go both in our personal and professional lives.

    Here is wishing you a wonderful 2011.