Tuesday, 17 February 2009

The little engine that could

You may notice I’ve put the “cover” of Dragonheart and an up-to-date wordcount widget in the sidebar. Not because I think anyone will be interested in how many words I’ve written, but I because I find the “public accountability” aspect a useful weapon in the war against procrastination. And the cover? Hey, I made it for Nanowrimo and I just like looking at it! Makes me feel all “authorly”.

Having spent the last two weeks celebrating my new freedom to do anything I like by in fact doing very little, I decided that the time had come for butt-in-chair. So on the weekend I read through the manuscript so far of Dragonheart, which I haven’t looked at since November, to get myself back up to speed. I have such a bad memory I’d forgotten where I was up to. Fortunately I still liked it. It was almost like reading a real book. I got engrossed in the story and was quite disappointed when it ended. “But what happens next?”

I wish I knew! I have the next little bit mapped out, but the rest of the book is distressingly vague. My notes to myself are full of “But why?”s and “such-and-such needs to happen – HOW?”. And in the big finale: “some huge complication needed”.

Muse, if you’re paying attention – a little more detail would be helpful. Appreciated, even. My control-freak self hates the not-knowing. Control freak self lies in bed at night going “but why? Why does that character do that?” and getting really frustrated when the answer doesn’t immediately appear. It’s that big gap between being a reader and being a writer. When you read, the story unfolds with such a smooth inevitability you can’t help but imagine it must have fallen fully formed into the writer’s head. If the writer’s done their job, it seems there’s no other way the story could have played out, so once the writer thought of the very first sentence, all the rest of it must have just flowed naturally from there. It's so easy! Anyone could do it.

If only! I try to console myself by looking back through my notebook and realising how much was unclear when I started, which has since fallen into place. Surely the rest of it will too – eventually. But I’m an instant gratification girl and waiting is just hard.

I know if I keep trudging on it will come. So my little wordcount widget sits there like the beacon on top of that terrible hill that leads to THE END, urging me on.

I think I can. I think I can.


  1. Yeah, I know the feeling. I've written a scene six times and it still doesn't work for me.

    Worse, the first book has to undergo a major re-write; not revision, but rewrite.

    Sigh. Then there's the ending of the third book that I can't decide on...

  2. Rewrite sounds ugly. But then, this is you we're talking about, Jaye. Should take you, what? A week, tops?

  3. I got linked to your blog on a forum in my creative group and I've enjoyed what I read so far. I know the problem - I've had those issues in the manuscripts (and novellas/novelettes) I've written. My solutions are = pestering friends for ideas, writing mindmaps with all (no matter how insane) ideas I can come up with, and in desperate cases I've had been forced to do major rewriting (although been lucky enough not needing to change a whole novel) so I can use another way of making it happen/make sense.

  4. Mindmaps have helped me lot! It's amazing how things can just appear on a mindmap that seem to come from somewhere outside yourself. The subconscious is a wonderful thing!

    I'm definitely working up to the "pestering friends" stage. So far my only victim has been my husband. My writers' group would be shaking in their shoes if they knew what was in store for them.

    Thanks for dropping in, Malin.