Curiously Creative: The project in the drawer
The first time I heard “book in the drawer” I didn’t understand the concept. Why would someone write a novel to tuck it away out of sight? Didn’t every author automatically write the next great American novel? OK, so maybe I wasn’t that naive, but I couldn’t understand why.
Then I started my first semester of grad school and began workshopping my own novel. Let me give you a quick background: I’ve been working on it on and off since I was 16 and finally finished it in May 2019. It has saved me when I was at my lowest — more than once. I know it inside and out, and I was pretty proud of it. Then, it was workshopped.
I realized how over attached I was to it after my first critique said they hated one of my favorite characters. I didn’t know how to respond, and it hurt as if someone was attacking me personally. I turned to one of my best friends for advice. She works in the publishing industry, and she was the one who said, “Maybe you need to put it in the drawer.”
I was horrified. How could I put it in the drawer? It was going to be my first published novel and was going to be turned into a five-book series. I couldn’t walk away from that, but my friend explained it to me: All authors have a “book in the drawer,” the one they had to walk away from. So, I put my novel away and started on something else.
I have a feeling every creative has their own “book in the drawer,” be it a painting, a sculpture or even trying a new type of art. It’s simply a dream you’ve decided to put away — until the time is right, until things slow down or whatever the reason. I also know by putting it away, you probably felt like you were giving up. I know I did. But I learned a pretty powerful lesson: It doesn’t have to be tucked away forever. Take some time to learn, develop new skills or work on something random and fun. Just don’t go back to the “drawer” until it’s time.
You’ll know when it’s time to return to that dream painting or that dream location to take photos, and it’ll be magical whether it’s tomorrow or ten years away. It might need some dusting off and a lot of work, but it’ll be worth it in the end.
Creating is hard, and it’s OK to feel overwhelmed and in need of a break. It’s OK to tuck a project away and take a few steps back. You can always return to it tomorrow or after a few glasses of wine or even in a few years when it feels a little less intimidating. Just promise me one thing: Don’t give up on it.
Mackenzie Hicks is a copy editor and page designer for Steamboat Pilot & Today. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing. She can be reached at mhicks@SteamboatPilot.com.
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