So, for the past... week? Yeah, since last Friday, I’d say, I’ve been struggling. Struggling to move forward. Struggling to write something new. Struggling to bridge the gap between where the story is and where I so desperately want it to be. I have so many great ideas, wonderful dialogues, fun-to-write events in my head that are further on in the story than where I am.
Where I am is stuck in the doldrums. Not really moving, not being funny or interesting or even remotely readable. Where I am is wondering why I started writing this thing in the first place, why I thought that anything I wrote was funny or interesting or entertaining in any way and thinking that no one in their right mind would ever want to sit down and read this thing even if I do finish it. It's stupid, unoriginal, idiotic, mediocre and just plain dull.
Now, to my credit, despite those thoughts plaguing me every time I sat down to write, I did still sit down to write. And my word count has continued to grow. I've forced myself to type out the necessary 1,200 words, 1,300 words, perhaps even 1,500 words per night- totally convinced that they are all of those terrible adjectives I listed above. But I kept typing.
I came to find out yesterday that, apparently, I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. Neil Gaiman wrote a pep talk for the nano people, which is so funny since I’m in the middle of Good Omens and absolutely LOVING it- concluding that he and Terry Pratchet are absolute Gods! But he wrote a pep talk describing what he went through while writing his Anansi Boys and guess what? Exactly what I’m feeling! There are his words, reading my mind:
"You don't know why you started your novel, you no longer remember why you imagined that anyone would want to read it, and you're pretty sure that even if you finish it it won't have been worth the time or energy and every time you stop long enough to compare it to the thing that you had in your head when you began---a glittering, brilliant, wonderful novel, in which every word spits fire and burns, a book as good or better than the best book you ever read---it falls so painfully short that you're pretty sure that it would be a mercy simply to delete the whole thing." (Copyright, I’m sure, Neil Gaiman per NaNoWriMo or something like that- just don't cite this to me so I don't get sued!)
And I’m thinking- he knows! Here is this wonderfully funny, intelligent, witty, entertaining, brilliant writer who I could never dream of emulating going through exactly the same doubts as me! What a revelation! That this- this terribly doubtful, uncomfortable, self-deprecating, why-can't-I-get-the-damned-story-to-flow-again phase is *gasp* normal! The relief, I can’t tell you.
So, I’m still writing. And I still feel so far from where I want to be but I force myself to keep putting down the words hoping that very soon I will feel that wonderful rush that comes when the story starts to flow again. When the words become a way to transport me to the scene, instead of just being lifeless letters on paper. When the characters have life and personalities and quirks. When the plot is interesting and exciting and fun. When I’ve gotten over the wall.
I’m not there yet, but I feel like I may be on the cusp. Here’s hoping.
See you on the other side of the wall.
(34,310 words and counting…)