Saturday, January 9, 2010

we all have that 'moment'...

TK Roxborogh's comment on my last post reminded me of a past post I wrote about reaching that moment when you decide your novel is the biggest load of c(beep)p the world has ever come across. My old post was in response to something I read on this blog (Hey, There's a Dead Guy in the Living Room) but I can't remember when it was - sorry folks (I'll have a rootle round and see if i can find a link). I think this reaction, this self-doubt, this loss of faith in your own writing probably happens to around 95% of all writers. I know it happens to me. Usually more then once per story but not the entire time I'm writing it. Most often it happens just over half way, near the end and when I'm editing it and in that moment I know my story couldn't blow any harder than it does and that was the biggest waste of (three months, six months, 9 months, a year, 2 years, some other length of time, select as appropriate). In that moment you wonder how you ever thought you could write. In that moment you know you will never show the story to another living soul. In that moment your heart sinks and you want to cry. But (and this is my favourite part) you keep writing, finish the story and edit it till its done and 99 times out of 100 that love for what you've written comes back and months later you'll read a bit at random and think - ok, maybe I can do this and in THAT foolhardy moment you print it and post it or e-mail it to an agent/publisher and you enter a totally different phase of this masochistic business. What reading ill-written best-sellers teaches me (when its not teaching me that the world works in mysterious ways) is that my writing isn't the cr(beep)eist there is.

I have been in a bit of a 'moment' recently whilst editing my latest completed WIP. When I originally began this story some years back I had a particular key plot element woven through the story which eventually became an albatross around its neck. The plot element had withered away along the course of the story and had to be surgically removed if the story was going to survive. It took me awhile but I figured out how to fill in the holes left by the surgey and I subsequently completed the tale. Then this morning i decided to put this plot element back. The story was missing something and I now understood how to make it work. Its the right thing to do but I do feel a certain sense of frustration that I had to go through this entire process to reach this conclusion. I am now looking at a mountain of work and fell a little daunted by the climb but I've invested too much time and effort in a manuscript which I think has some potential. If you see a dent in my head its just because i've been bashing it against a brick wall!

8 comments:

Nicola Morgan said...

Unfortunately, I smiled (a lot) when I got to the bit about you putting that plot element back in!! Sorry! But good luck and I'm sure it will be the better for all your very hard work and suffering.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Visiting from Nicola's blog party. I love your blog, your posts are the down in the trenches writing stuff we all go through. I'm adding myself as a follower and look forward to reading more from you!

Melinda Szymanik said...

I like to think that I may never have figured out how to make it work if I hadn't removed it - thats what i keep telling myself anyway :)

Lorelei Armstrong said...

Aloha! Thanks for the blog visit! Having a fun read here. Hope there's room for more heads at that particular brick wall!

SF said...

Hello Melinda!
I guess that's why starting a story of any kind - especially a novel - is so daunting. You don't know until you've written it whether it'll work or not.

Going to writers' festivals and hearing authors speak of doing 15 drafts of a book, you wonder if it resembles the first draft at all by then!

TK Roxborogh said...

This view of writing has it in a nutshell. Read, laugh, weep.
http://libba-bray.livejournal.com/36896.html

Debs said...

I sometimes wonder how many times I can edit a book, and if I'll ever be happy with the end result.

Imogen said...

My take on the ghastly and sometimes all-too-frequent "loss of faith in your abilities" moment is that it is one of the marks of the TRUE creative. That the person who has absolutely no doubt, none, ever, at all, about their gifts has never set eyes on the Divine Muse and probably has a rather fundament-oriented viewpoint instead.
Of course, this may simply be another consoling fiction I tell myself in the cold small hours as the snow swirls down on Chiswick...