The last leaf holds on

Late in the fall I came across this tree with just one lone red leaf still holding onto a branch, refusing to fall off. Clearly the leaf was in denial about the long cold winter ahead.

At first I commended the leaf on its stubbornness. It wasn’t going to be wimpy like other leaves and just fall off and die. It was going to cling to life with every last ounce of its being. Admirable. Brave.

But then I realized that the leaf reminded me of someone. Someone who gets so attached to a project that they deny all the evidence in front of them that it is never, ever going to be a good book. They try to shape it into a better manuscript, pushing and pulling at the story, denying their gut feeling that the core idea doesn’t work, and that the story is not strong enough to stand on its own two feet. It reminded me of me, of course.

This new year I resolve to hold tight and work hard when a project deserves it, and let go when my gut tells me that a manuscript needs to go back in the drawer. Or the trash. Hopefully this will make me a saner, better writer this winter.

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