I cling to stories the way I cling to old clothes.
My closet contains far too many old shirts, dresses, and pants from as long ago as my freshman year of high school. Some of these clothes are faded, others torn, but most have nothing wrong except for the fact that I’ve simply stopped wearing them. (When you’re in college, would you want to wear clothes you picked out when you were 14?) They’ve run their course, and now all they do is take up space.
But I don’t get rid of them. A small part of me is convinced that, someday, I’ll wear those clothes again. In the meantime, that hanger space could have been used to store clothes I would actually wear (but never bought because I didn’t have room in the closet).
The same goes for writing. I have drafts of stories that I’ll never be happy with. Instead of acknowledging that I’ve done what I can and move on, I stay stuck on those specific projects, never progressing, never changing anything significant, never letting go. Those stories were started in high school, a time of adolescent mood swings, if-he-would-only-notice-i-exist crushes, and teenybopper outlooks on life. Plenty of them need to either be finished or rewritten.
Look, I know that you’re supposed to finish every story you start, but I’ve changed so much as a person in the past two years that they’re just holding me back. I have all of these grand new story ideas that I’m not starting because, just like the old clothes in my closet, I’m convinced that I’m eventually going to fix all of the stories I wrote back in high school. But because I don’t want to work on these stories since they no longer apply to me, I end up avoiding writing altogether. The new stories inside me that sing to my soul and reflect my inner self much more accurately than years-old quasi-abandoned projects end up fizzling and fading before I finally capture them in real words.
Is it better to keep trying to revive lifeless stories, or just man up and move on? How do you know when to let go?