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Sunday, 24 January 2016

What it REALLY feels like to write a book...

Ooh, got an idea...well, more of an outline.  Need characters.  Got characters, now need actual story... Okay, first line will have to do.

Spend hours wondering what the cover will look like, reading Facebook and posting 'STARTED NEW NOVEL!!!' on Twitter.

Write first chapter.  Realise characters don't work. Delete all of first chapter except two lines which I really like, sit on Facebook, go back and delete those two lines as well.
writing a novel largely looks like this. With added sweat (not pictured)

Talk to anyone who will listen about idea for new book.  Whilst aimlessly telling perfect stranger the outline, hit accidentally upon perfect character and new storyline. Dash off in middle of conversation to the relief of stranger.  Sit and write like a lunatic for three weeks.  Get three quarters of the book done.

Suffer crippling performance anxiety and sit around the house in grubby pyjamas eating Nutella out of the jar and complaining that my art is being stifled by the need to work/wash/think of actual storyline. Moan about this to anyone who will listen, including perfect stranger who, I now begin to suspect, might have been original perfect stranger because of the way they back off at my approach.  Sit on Facebook.  Moan on Facebook.  Decide to give up writing and become a car park attendant.
Honestly preferable

Wake up in middle of night seized with inspiration.  Forget to write down inspiration.  Wake up in morning seized with desperation. Fill in job application for car park attendant - in middle of form decide car park attendant will make perfect antagonist in DIFFERENT novel.  Write that down (lesson learned last night).  Lose piece of paper on which it is written.

Pick up unfinished novel and re read.  Decide all is not lost.  Write two more pages, then go back to Facebook for more despair.  Drink much tea and go for long walks, trying to look moody and artistic but actually looking muddy and odd because have two different wellingtons on.  Friends give pep talks and gin.

Eventually, writing at the rate of one page per day, limp to the end of book.  Decide on title. Hate title but have run out of brain to think of anything else.  Send dodgy book plus terrible title to beta reader.  Beta reader loves book and title.  Fill in application for car park attendant again.  Drink more gin, eat more Nutella, decide to write completely different book, possibly the one with car park attendant main character.  Spend ages imagining cover for this book.

Eventually pull first book out of file.  Read first line. Laugh at first line. Go back and read whole book.  Decide is not as terrible as first thought, and begin editing process.

Finish editing, submit book, start writing about car park attendant.  Be mildly surprised when book comes out, having forgotten entire content.

Rinse, as they say, and repeat...


angela britnell said...

Sounds normal to me! I thought of a great name I needed for current book but it was 3am and sleeping husband wouldn't have appreciated light on and scribbling. By 7am name long forgotten of course.

Elaine Roberts said...

Excellent. I can so relate!

fae fielding said...

Great description, only I don't have that book finished or published ... yet. I do however have 17 half written novels at first draft stage and an application form for being a lollipop lady.

Rhoda Baxter said...

Yep. I can relate to that. I did the whole 'struck by inspiration in the middle of the night, but fail to write it down' thing last night. Can't remember any of it this morning - apart from that it was really good. Bah.

Guernsey Girl said...

My choice of occupation in the middle of a sleepless night after a day without inspiration is .... putting cherries on cakes. I had a friend who did this in her college holidays and she said she would never moan about writer's block again.