Finished my last university assignment and posted it off. I had reached that point where I no longer wanted to look at it. It would have to do, as it was. As much as exams can be a drag, when you are writing hell-for-leather trying to show everything you know on the topic in 3 hours or less finesse flies out the window. This can be a good thing. Cos when the assessment is 100% based on assignments where 'theoretically' you have the time to massage and polish your work into a hard shiny gem all that finessing starts to wear you down. I get a related feeling about my creative writing. There comes a point when I feel as if I am polishing for the sake of polishing, editing because other people do 5 or ten edits before they submit it to a publisher, not because it's what the story needs. There are times when I observe other writers still polishing the same story year after year, trying to make it shiny enough to dazzle a publisher. Sometimes this is the right thing to do. A while back I linked to writer Steven Parrish who worked and reworked his story over a number of years until it was accepted. He had faith in his story and feedback he'd received suggested he was close to the mark. But other people are putting a lot of time and energy into polishing pumice - folks that baby is never going to shine. How do you know which group you fall into? It can be incredibly hard to tell. The kind of feedback you are getting might tell you but this is not foolproof. 39 publishers might pass with a form rejection and the 40th publisher will whoop with delight when they read your story and won't be able to ring you up fast enough. Or no amount of rubbing and cutting will make any difference. One thing I can be sure of is that if you want to have a writing career you will need more then one story. If you work on only one story till it is published you will have nothing to follow it up with. Sometimes working on something new will help you see how to fix something old. Sometimes it is your growth as a writer that makes all the difference. Try writing something fresh and new - a little holiday can make all the difference.
On the flip side of the coin sometimes we want to move on but can't get started. Writers are easily frightened by a blank page. They often get that manic stare, that possum-in-the-headlights look (which often precedes that flattened feeling), and have the five coffee jitters. Its closely related to the will-I-ever-get-published-again neurosis. I've been there and knew I needed help when I started looking for strait jackets in my size (10-12 with plenty of room across the shoulders). Experience has taught me that 'dithering' is a normal part of the process. Sure some writers are really disciplined, or like little sausage factories writing vast quantities of words every day and it works for them but I know I will have days where I have nothing to put on the page. And that's ok. Its only not okay when you fret about it. The minute you give your fear some attention it feeds on it and grows like Topsy (name that reference to win a prize of my choosing). Go watch some bad TV or read a bad book. You'll be back at the page in no time knowing you can do better then that.
BTW Nicola Morgan has had some fabulous advice on dialogue on her blog recently. Check it out here and here.
Educational Resource: A Winter's Day in 1939
- Educational Resource: The Were-Nana
- Educational Resource: The Half Life of Ryan Davis
- Educational Resource: Made With Love
- Educational Resource: The House That Went to Sea
- Educational Resource: A Winter's Day in 1939
- Educational Resource: While You Are Sleeping
- Educational Resource: The Song of Kauri
- Educational Resource: Fuzzy Doodle
- Book List - Complete List of my Publications