A few years ago, after I had successfully published three middle-grade novels and was feeling pretty good about myself as a writer, I came up with what I was POSITIVE was going to be my next big idea. I spent months researching the project. I had an entire folder full of notes. And I wrote up the first fifty pages, and sent them to my agent.
He did not like them.
I was, as you can imagine, pretty down in the dumps about that. I LOVED my idea, and I thought it was going to make for an incredible novel. But I trusted my agent quite a bit (still do!), so I went back and read what I'd given him.
I didn't like it either.
There were some good ideas in there, but it wasn't a story. For various reasons, it lacked the spark of the books I'd worked on in the past. And while I was certain (and my agent assured me), that all the things that weren't working in it were fixable, it was a long, long way from being a novel-ready idea. And so, with a bit of huffing and puffing, I moved on to something else.
I went on to write two novels which I am extremely proud of, and then a third (A TANGLE OF KNOTS, which comes out in Spring 2013), with a subplot lifted from that long-ago discarded novel. And I couldn't be happier with those books. The point is, sometimes the very best thing to do is to stick with a project until you can pound it into shape . . . and sometimes you just need to let it go. It's hard to know which way to go most of the time, but I feel very lucky that I have smart people in my life who will tell me the truth, and let me know when they think what I write simply stinks (but who say it much more kindly than that, of course).