I am so close to the end of my novel that I feel like I should be able to reach out and touch it. I have also just mentally closed down on my writing. After pounding out three to four thousand words a week for the past three months, I’ve now hit a wall.
It has been a long time since I finished a first draft novel. It was some time in 2010, and I don’t remember if this happened. Part of me doesn’t want to finish the novel, because I’ve enjoyed having a project that I have been able to totally immerse myself in. I’ve liked spending time with the characters and in the world and knowing what was waiting for me at the computer each time I sat down.
Another part of me is terrified of stuffing it up.
I have also had a head-cold and lost all the heating in my house as we shiver through the coldest few weeks of the year, but they are excuses, not real reasons to stop. It is late summer in my novel, it is not cold spending time there.
So I will buckle down and do what all writers do when faced with this; force myself to write. If I give myself permission to write as many ends as the novel needs, I’m sure I’ll find the right one eventually. One that will do the rest of the novel justice.
But it is incredible the feeling of loss I’m already getting at the idea of it being over. I’m sure the edit will quickly cure me of that.
I can’t explain the how or why, but when I get a story idea I almost always know the approximate length the story will be. Often it is only a small moment or part of the story that I see, but even then it will feel like a novel, or a short, or a flash.
My feelings probably then dictate how I end up writing the piece, so I can’t entirely put it down to the communal unconsciousness of writing, for example I recently wrote a flash fiction piece (which will be published in Antipodean SF next month) which could easily have been a short story, or even a novel, but it felt like flash so I kept it under 500 words.
Having said that, I repeatedly saw one scene of the novel I’m currently writing, which has turned out to be the opening chapter, but at the time I had no idea what the story would be, how it would end or even who was in it. But I always knew it was going to be a novel.
So I will keep thinking it is the magic of this writing thing. The stories are already out there, they randomly choose a writer to discover them.
The exciting thing is that I can feel another novel tapping at the side of my brain, waiting to step forward. And what do I see; a small parrot darting over the top of a boy. I’m serious, that is what is haunting me. It’s what I know about that moment, about the boy and about the parrot that tells me it is a novel. I love this writing thing.
The book I’m reading at the moment has such a fantastic world that I’m actually reading it more slowly than usual so I can stay in the world longer. I don’t want the book to end because each time I get into it I get transported to somewhere amazing. That is good world building.
I think I’m going to have to go back and read it again once I’ve finished to try and see exactly how the author manages to introduce so many ideas so well and at the right time for the world to take shape as we read, while not info-dumping. Most books with worlds quite different to ours tend to have at least a little info-dump, but with this one I haven’t noticed it at all.
I get the feeling that the author was very deeply into the world before he started writing it. Perhaps his approach was that the world was another character, one whom he had got to know very well before putting pen to paper.
There is a lot I could learn from this book, I know that, but I also can’t learn from it because I’ve gotten so caught up in it. I love books like that. Just in case you want to join me on the journey the book is ‘Three Parts Dead’ by Max Gladstone –and a big thank you to Liz for the recommendation.
Every time I sit down to write I begin with three games of Freecell. The only time I play Freecell is before I write. This was a conscious ‘habit’ that I forced myself into so that on those days when I don’t want to write, my games of Freecell tell my brain that it has no choice; writing is about to happen because it ALWAYS happens after three games of Freecell.
Some days I want to jump straight into the writing, but I still play the Freecell. Some days I can feel myself dragging the games out so that it will take me longer to get to the writing bit, but there always is a writing bit. I can honestly say that many times the Freecell has been the difference between getting words on the page and staring into space for an hour. It works.
So if you often find yourself lost for motivation or inspiration, just start programming yourself instead so you no longer rely on those –ations. Habit is reliable, hard to break once it is set, and something every writer should get into if they ever want to finish that novel.