How did I get here? It's simple: I love the concept behind this particular novel. My agent loves the concept. My beta readers love the concept. It's a really, really cool idea that could be AWESOME if executed well. Or it could be a huge hot mess. And right now, despite my best efforts, it's more of the latter.
Still, I've soldiered on because along the way, I grew to love my characters, too. I kept hoping that, if I just continued to work, then I would all of a sudden find my way to the WOW. I'm like a sculptor who keeps re-arranging parts--"what if I put the kneecaps *here* this time?"--thinking eventually I'll find the right configuration and end up with a masterpiece.
But my latest round of feedback from critique partners tells me the sculpture still isn't taking shape. And it probably doesn't want to be the sculpture I originally envisioned. What I think I actually have is 5 different books that are getting crammed into one. I know that's a lot to get your head around, 5 books from one project, but that's how out-there this concept really is. And that's why I'm going to take a break for awhile. I'll work on other things, then come back and see what's really there.
Because I don't think all of that time was wasted. I'm hopeful something awesome will eventually materialize. I just need to find a way to let it go. For now.