My Writing Turning Point (I hope)

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  So what have I been doing all this time?  I’d like to say that I’ve been writing furiously and have lots of finished novels to show for it.  Alas, that isn’t the case.  I’ve been having a writing crisis. 

The problem is that the structure of this book has undermined itself at every turn since around 80,000 words.  I knew it wasn’t working, but I thought I could just keep going and deal with the mess later.  Your first draft is like that.  The second draft can do it as well, right?  Wrong. 

The fact is, you as a writer know when you’re flogging a dead horse, so to speak, and no matter how hard you try to deceive yourself, your artistic heart just isn’t in what isn’t working.  There comes a time when you’ve got to be honest with yourself and cut something loose.  If you’re feeling the bottom drop out of your stomach every time you sit down at your desk, it’s probably a good sign something has to end.

I’m not saying this project is a dud.  In fact, I still have a lot of faith in it.  I just need some distance to get some perspective on it and work out what to do.  Since making this decision a month ago, I’ve already started getting some ideas on where things went wrong and how to move things again.  The problem is, I’m too attached to what I’ve written so far and I’m reluctant to cut the scenes out that have derailed the whole thing.  I’m not going to rush back to it, though, because I’m not ready to be ruthless with it.  This has been my baby for so long, and I’ve thought about little else. 

No, definitely a new project is needed.  I’ve got a few ideas, and I’ll learn a lot from writing something different.  My aim now is to build my skills, to learn how to get rid of what doesn’t fit into the big picture, no matter how good the writing is or how interested I am in what the characters are doing.  It’s daunting starting something new, but I feel I have to do it.  I just have to have faith that when I come back and work on this one, it’ll be better than it was before.

I’ve got a problem…

I think I’ve worked out why my writing doesn’t feel right at the moment.  It’s not that it’s any worse than usual, or that it doesn’t flow.  It feels flat, even when the sentences and paragraphs themselves have energy.  I can come away from a writing session feeling like I’ve achieved something, but when I think back on it, I get a grey cloud thing happening.

And then today it hit me – it feels like I’m starting the story again, when I’m actually supposed to be finishing it off.  In order to move my protagonist closer to the crescendo that is the ending of book 1, I’ve had to move them geographically.  As a result, I’ve had to start them off in their world again, building relationships from scratch, finding their feet in a new town and occupation.  It’s not that there isn’t anything happening.  There is.  It’s just that it’s the kind of stuff that normally happens at the beginning of a book when the reader is getting to know the character.  Here, it’s the character who is getting to know other characters, which is having the same effect.

This realisation has been kicking around in my head all day, but I’ve decided not to do anything about it just yet.  It’s more important to me to keep writing so that I find out the nuances of the action rather than to stop now and go back.  I suspect what I’ll end up doing is cutting out a big chunk of what I’ve already written and pushing this part back so that it’s before the midpoint, not after it.  I’ll be able to take some of the earlier stuff, chop it up and relocate it so that I can still use it.  I think the story will be much better for it, to be honest. 

But who knew writing could be so complicated?

A Good Solution is a Two-Edged Sword

Now this is interesting.

In working on what my main ‘push’ was going to be for the last 20,000 words of my work in progress, I finally came up with a great idea that will tie everything together.  Trouble is, it’s such a strong theme that I could have written the whole book with it.  Now I’m wondering if I should go back and write it in.

Don’t you just hate that?

2nd draft blues

Hmm.  Having read over some of my manuscript, I can see that there’s a lot to do.  I have to keep reminding myself that I knew this would happen.  My aim was to get the first draft out without worrying about craft.  And some of it’s OK.  Or will be, after I’ve worked it over.

Once upon a time …

On the one hand, writing gives structure and meaning.  When I go to bed on a Friday night, I can’t wait to have two whole days when I can write to my heart’s content.  I’m a ‘planner’, so I know what I’ll be writing about and I’ll usually have written a bit in my writing journal about what I want the next scene to do.  I like having something to head for, so when people ask me ‘did you have a nice weekend’ I generally say ‘yes, it was fantastic, I got another blah words done’.

On the other hand, I miss being able to have a whole day to just read a book without feeling guilty that I’m not working.  That would be nice.  I vaguely remember life being like that, but really, it’s so long ago that I can’t tell if it really was or if I’m idealising things.