Monthly Archives: April 2011

Limping to the finishing line…

I have written a novel.
It’s finished!
So my question is this: why am I not punching the air?
I am thinking about marathons. I have never run anything close to one, nor do I ever intend to. (I know I once said this about going to America, but Aaron Sorkin is unlikely to write a gritty drama about running. If he does, then I expect I’ll be buying a pair of trainers.) So to those of you who have, a question: after you finish, how do you feel?
Do you feel euphoric, or do you drag yourself to the finishing line and then collapse in a heap and beat yourself up for not doing it better, faster?
How about the next morning? Do you ever want to run again?
Because, it’s strange, but I feel a little deflated.
What if after the marathon, someone had said, oh, well done, but now you have to climb this big mountain? Would you have been up for the challenge? Because agent hunting feels like that mountain to me.
And, here’s the thing: I am a little bit afraid.
Of feedback, because I can’t bear the thought that there might be more weeks, more months of work ahead.
Of reading, because I am in love with beautiful prose, and I know that mine does not come close to the standards that I admire and aspire to: I fear that literary fiction will punch me in the gut.
Of writing, because, what if I suddenly get new ideas for this novel, this novel which is supposed to be finished? Or, worse still, what if I get ideas for my second book? Because I just don’t think I can face that yet.
But maybe that’s okay. Maybe that would be like asking a Marathon runner to do it again the next week.
Marathon runners, any thoughts? How about writers?
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Could it be that the book is finished?

I’ve written before about how I don’t believe in writers’ block. I may have spoken too soon.

For almost two years now, scenes for my novel, Inevitable, have been popping into my head. Sometimes with frightening regularity. Sometimes sporadically. And even when they have not, usually if I have sat down with paper and pen for long enough, an idea has come. Not always a great one. Sometimes one I have later cut. But an idea, nonetheless.

But here is the thing now: I brainstorm. I write from prompts. I read about DC. I teach the guy who is the inspiration for my main character. I mostly still take the long train/tram journeys during which scenes used to come to me, randomly but often. I do all the things that used to work – though admittedly I haven’t watched any West Wing in a few weeks – and yet inspiration does not strike.
I spent yesterday depressed about this: I’ve been so looking forward to six whole days hanging out with my novel. And then it occurred to me – the reason might well be a good one. The reason might be that there’s nothing more to say. That the book is finished. So instead I am reading through, editing bits and pieces, cutting scenes, finding synonyms for beautiful and deleting instances of the word “suddenly”.
And getting ready to post a triumphant Facebook status update.
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