Confessions of a novelist (and something about my new desk chair)…

There are people I know, other writers, who manage an endless surplus of of other life-type stuff (careers, higher education, marriages, families) and still manage to write lots and often. There are proper, real life humans with actual grown up lives who wander around in their nice clothes and hair cuts with their mortgages and wedding rings and bank accounts and organic vegetables who are a lot more productive than I am.

I took last week off to focus on finally ending that blasted novel of mine. One full week with an entirely clear schedule and it was mine – all mine. A long stretch of time for me to sit down and wrestle with the shitty dialogue, the end of that chapter that seems a bit boring, those characters who are kind of meaningless, and at the end of the week I’d finally be on the road to completion. By the end of the week I could sit back and say: I wrote a novel. Get me. I totally wrote a novel. How many people can say that?

Answer: Quite a few. And I’m not one of them.

Because I didn’t spend last week working on my novel.

No.

Last week I got paid. And I decided to celebrate by purchasing a new desk chair from Ikea, and then celebrate my purchase of a new desk chair by eating Daim cheesecake in the Ikea cafe and then I spent the next few days constructing the new desk chair… And dismantling and rearranging other furniture to make room for the new desk chair and to make new desk chair feel welcome.

Because y’know, there’s no way I could finish the novel without buying a new desk chair. I mean, if you’re going to spend a week working on your masterpiece – you may as well do it in style while eating cheesecake in comfort.

Captain's Chair

Okay, so it’s a cruddy excuse. And even after the desk chair was constructed I did not open my novel and attempt to finish it. I surfed the internet and pretended to be Captain James Kirk.

When it comes to me, there’s always a reason not to write; the house is too messy, so I can’t concentrate, I need to go to the supermarket, I need a new desk/desk chair/room to work in, I’m too tired/hungry/stressed, I have back ache so I can’t sit at my desk for long, or I’m stuck.

Okay. So, it’s that last one which holds responsibility for all the other crappy excuses. I’m stuck. Really stuck. So stuck that I’m beginning to resent my stupid novel.

The truth is, I don’t think I’m that far away from finishing. There are two or three chapters which need redrafting, but for whatever reason, I can’t bring myself to do it.

I know I should sit down and simply take a look at what needs changing and try to work the problems out bit by bit, but as more time passes, the prospect of doing this becomes more and more daunting and I’m becoming more afraid of tackling the issue.

It’s becoming a monster.

Evil incomplete manuscript

Am I actually scared of finishing my novel? I mean, this isn’t just your average case of procrastination we’re talking about here – this is driving a considerable distance to eat Swedish cheesecake and pretending to be William Shatner…

Anyone got a number for a good psychiatrist?

Comments: 4

  1. Brooke Farmer June 3, 2011 at 12:39 am Reply

    Cut and paste the entire document into a blank document. Do a search and replace changing the names of all the characters. It will distance the characters enough for you to see them as characters on a page and look at it objectively instead of looking at them as your creations.

    My novel sat on a shelf getting dusty for two years. I read somewhere to try this and it was a huge help in me spotting the weaknesses in the main characters and I've completely revamped the first half and am finally moving forward.

  2. Suniverse June 3, 2011 at 6:29 pm Reply

    I think it is fear of finishing. I've got two down and the last bit was the worst for both. I've got about a dozen where I'm between 20-150 pages in, and I can't get my shit together.

    I'm trying to tell myself that it's the creative curse – that inability to finish. Or maybe I'm just a lazy twat.

  3. Simone June 3, 2011 at 8:10 pm Reply

    it's a process. the hardest part is sitting down and doing it. but you know once you enter into the other world how much you love your story and the characters. it's okay to take a vacation from them. like family they can be annoying too. also, your brain is still working on the novel even when you are not physically writing. ideas are germinating left and right. let it unfold. and keep writing these amazing blog updates. you're an inspiration. and so is cheesecake.

  4. alonewithcats June 6, 2011 at 3:09 am Reply

    Your novel has teeth! I would read it for that reason alone. And because you wrote it. And you're British, so I could read it with an accent. Finish it so I can read your toothy book with an accent. Do it for me, please.

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