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Sunday, 15 March 2015

Why writing 'The End' is like weeing in public...

I am just about to finish a book.  Writing, I mean, not reading, because that's a whole different ball game of expectation versus reality and that sort of thing. 

This book, the one I'm writing, although obviously I'm not writing it right now because I'm writing this, which is part of the problem because procrastination... has been 'nearly finished' for about the last three months.  'Nearly' as in, within two chapters.  The end is so nearly in sight that it's like that bit at the end of a very long car journey, where everyone has been saying 'are we nearly there yet?' for the last hundred and fifty miles, and you've been saying 'nearly', until you actually are nearly there, when you turn round to discover that everyone's fallen asleep and then they get all cranky about arriving because you have to wake them up to get out of the car.  If you see what I mean.

Anyway.  I truly am 'nearly there'.  And you'd think, wouldn't you, that I'd be tapping away, racing through those last words to get to The End..?  Er, no. I'm more, sort of, not.

So, what is stopping me?

Two little words.  Two words that are not The End... Performance Anxiety.  Finishing a book is like weeing in public.  You know you really, really want to, and that if you don't, sooner or later something terrible is going to happen... but you just can't.  Because - and I stress this is to do with ending a book and not weeing - what actually comes out is never going to be as good as you imagined.  In your head the book is all shiny and perfect, not a word misplaced.  No slightly wonky synonyms, all your similes are spot-and apposite, everything is gaspingly, knee-tremblingly wow.

But then you have to do it.  And gradually you realise that... you could have done better.

And this is where the moist soft-furnishings of redrafting and editing come in.  You've done it, you've let it go, you've finally managed the wee, but you realise that you've got a lot of drying out and mopping to do before you can appear in public.  So, here is where I rely on the incontinence pants of beta-readers, who will wipe up the worst of my damp patches before my End is actually submitted.
You know who you are, and I am very grateful...

6 comments:

Just Another Bloke said...

I would have thought it was like having a wee in a wetsuit. You get a nice warm feeling, but nobody notices"

I'm having a "slow period" and I wonder if this is related to finishing the MS and then having to have it judged by others.

Hey, ho. Sharpen up that pencil!

Jane Lovering said...

I'd be happy if I had a warm feeling - I usually just move straight onto the dread about writing the next one!
Keep at it, John...

Kathryn Freeman said...

I would never have thought to describe finishing a book as the same as peeing in public - but I can absolutely agree with you! Thanks for my Sunday giggle :-)

Lynda Stacey said...

Mmmm if you've ever wee'd in a wet suit, you'd know it stinks like hell.... And everyone knows.
I used to have a diving school and boy oh boy did I know if one of my suits came back covered in wee..! X

Wendy's Writing said...

I'd just like to be able to get to the almost finished stage!

Phillipa said...

Yes, but that cold water - and being in there for a couple of hours. Anyway, I have my own wetsuit.