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Title: How To Abandon Your Stories
Author name: Icarus
Author email: icarus_ancalion@yahoo.com


How To Abandon Your Stories

I have many stories I would like to revise. All of them, in fact. I could spend my entire writing life going back and changing everything I ever wrote, like combing over the same two inches of ice with a zamboni in an endless circle.

I don't.

Once it's published, the story is done. A writer who isn't able to let a story go is a writer who finishes nothing. Those are the people who have a half-finished novel on their hard drive -- the same novel they've been tinkering with for a decade.

They don't improve or learn anything because they never let it go. They repeat the same habits again and again and again. Because the way you learn how to write is by writing. And it's a different process from editing.

Sometimes what's good about a story is embedded within its flaws. If you go back and change what you wrote, you may fix something that bugs you, but you will likely lose the freshness of what worked. There isn't an author alive -- or film maker, or artist -- who doesn't feel that pull to revise old work. It takes discipline to not do that, to forge forward and write the next story instead.

The temptation is especially strong when the work is popular and well-read. Huxley admitted he wanted to change A Brave New World to reflect his new perspective on the issues. He elected to exercise restraint and let the story be. Stories are popular for a reason. Those are the ones you especially shouldn't "fix."

I look at the authors that I respect, fanfiction and otherwise, and when I compare their early work with what came later, I can see the differences. I see it in the Harry Potter books. I can tell that other writers know this, too.

There's saying in film making (which I'm probably mangling) that, "no film is ever finished; it is merely abandoned."

That story, as well as every story I've ever written, has been abandoned. And rightly so.