In the lead up to my long anticipated Arvon course I’ve experienced something of a writing paralysis. I’ve tinkered with a short story and sent it to a fellow blogger/twitterer for a bit of reciprocal criticising and I’ve written a few blogs, but I just haven’t been able to look at my novel.
I think part of the reason is, I’m hoping being locked away in the middle of nowhere in the Scottish highlands, with nine other aspiring authors and two published/acclaimed authors, is going to provide me with such a radically different view on my novel it’s hardly worth me doing anything until then. Another part of my mind screams; every day is precious, every writing minute counts. And it does, but here I am nonetheless.
Focus and perseverance are incredibly important traits in a writer. I imagine there are hundreds of manuscripts out there that started very well but remain unfinished. Perhaps some of them deserve to stay there, but a great many simply faltered because their author lacked these two traits, or lost them for a bit. I can bit a half-arsed about some things; sewing, cooking and decorating to name just a few, but if I really love something I will stick at it no matter what. There is, inside me, a quiet confidence that ‘I will get this bloody novel written and it will be good’. I won’t just finish it and think ‘thank god’. I will make it the best it can be.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a perfectionist. I won’t pore over my novel endlessly once it’s done, but I will hold back on showing it to an agent, publisher or the general public until it is ready. I know I’ve already been writing my novel for a number of years and some people have said to me ‘just send off the first chapter to a few agents, see what they think’. Even before I started looking into this part of the process, this seemed like a bad idea. I am aware, despite the number of years I’ve been writing, I still have a long way to go before I can produce a novel I would be excited by if I were the reader. I look back at my first drafts and they were awful. I have improved so much since then and I know I will improve further. The fact it’s a slow process is incredibly frustrating for me (and probably for those around me) but shoving something half-baked under people’s noses then expecting to get a following, an avid audience eagerly awaiting my next masterpiece, is folly.
I get a bit antsy when I’m not writing, luckily I can present a fairly serene outward impression, but inside I’m twitching. Perhaps it’s because of this, I know, although I’ve taken a pause, I will be back and I will be badder than before (by which of course I mean gooder…better).
Someone once said to me, (after I’d admitted to being a bit of a bodger at particular tasks), that people are either conscientious in all things or the opposite. Do you think this is true? I really hope it isn’t, I think it’s more to do with how you prioritise your life.
I don’t know if you write every day no matter what, or have periods when you’ve written nothing – either because of commitments or writers block – how do you cope? Do you sometimes feel under pressure from those around you to ‘just get it finished’?
Thanks for reading this blog, feel free to comment 🙂