I stopped writing. Not a word. Not even thought about it. Avoided it completely. Until this blog post, I haven’t written a thing for over a week.
This is bad news for many reasons, not least because I am about two thirds of the way through the first draft of my next book and really, I should be motoring now. I know what’s happening, I’m in the flow with my characters and I have a goal: finish and park it ‘til January. Get space from it before the edit, and yet – I stopped writing.
So, I’ve been trying to work out why.
Life has been a bit full on these last few weeks. A couple of ups and downs that distracted me, then half term, friends visiting, a few days away ourselves, there are many good reasons for life intruding on art. (Art, ha! That was merely there to make the sentence flow, I am not that pretentious. Usually. I don’t think… never mind.) But, intrude it has.
Is this was my first attack of writers block?
I’ve read about the phenomenon. I’ve heard varying views on its validity. I for one didn’t believe it was possible. And actually, I still don’t, you write through them. (Maybe I’m naïve!) So, I don’t think its writers block I’m suffering from, I think its writers fear. Fear that it won’t be good enough. Again. Fear that it will be good enough, but it won’t get picked up. Fear that it will be good enough, and it will get picked up, and that it will get published and then – with any luck – I’d have to produce another book. Shit. That’s pressure right there.
I don’t know if I’m capable of doing this once, never mind twice! Or more.
I worked out it was fear yesterday. I finally got a rejection on the full manuscript by an agent whose list I really admire. The second I saw the email, knowing that good news would not come via the interweb, a curious weight lifted from my shoulders. It could only be a rejection, and secretly, I was quite pleased.
Reading their rejection was good. Their reasons summed up all the things I had expected them to say. Things I had already identified myself, reasons that I totally understood and respected.
So if that is the case, why didn’t I fix them before I sent it off? You could ask me that question. And you should, because why didn’t I?
I didn’t because I was over it. Awful isn’t it, but I was totally over it. I’d worked on it almost solidly for nine months, I’d done eight drafts, I had winged it for the first seven only just getting the gist of the story on the eighth and I had totally lost energy for it.
Like this one.
So what does it all mean? Am I chasing something I don’t really want? Or fighting to achieve something I actually can’t do? Or is it possible that this is all part of the learning process? I’ve watched a couple of well-established authors struggle with manuscripts in the last few weeks. Writers who have done this loads of times, expressing their fears via social media. And thank goodness to them for that.
I don’t know how it is for them, but this time for me, I won’t have to do eight drafts to get the story right, because I already know what it is. This time, I can do eight drafts to craft the words, I can do eight drafts to deepen the sense of place, the characterisation, the humour, drama or emotion.
And that is why I have stopped writing. Because suddenly, I have broken through another barrier in terms of understanding how I write (e.g I get bored, I need to keep motivated, I need to understand the point of it all!) and now I’m terrified again. Because to progress, to achieve the next objective, well that means fixing it before I send it out, and then bagging an agent. Because that is the target I set myself.
And what if I fail.
Of course, if I carry on stopping writing, I’ve failed before I’ve tried.
*looks at Scrivener app*
And I’d hate to think that I having spotted what was wrong with my last, I couldn’t work out how to fix things on my next.
*looks at post it notes*
And, I’m really not a quitter.
*reminds self why I’m doing this*
I’d better get my arse in gear, right!?