It’s Novel Writing Time…

Posted: May 14, 2011 in Anecdotes, Literature/Writing
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Perhaps a more apt title for this entry would be something along the lines of ‘Stare Incessantly At An Empty Word Document Scratching Your Balls And Mentally Breaking Down’.

I’ve reached another avenue in my yet-to-scale-the-mountains writing career in which I have once again become enthusiastic about engaging in a writing project. I tend not to refer to it as ‘starting a novel’ and prefer a much more Orwellian style of phrasing in which I tell people I am working on “something I am hoping to turn into a book”…so you’ll have to ignore this post’s title…

Between 2006 and now I have begun (and failed to complete) five novels. That’s about one every year. One of said stories was a beginning segment that I had to do for a university assignment. Something that I had pretty much planned out with every intention of continuing with long after I had graduated and drank away the memories of institutionalised academia.

Another one was part of the yearly online contest National Novel Writing Month (AKA ‘NaNoWriMo’ – I think the naming department are the same Hell beasts that branded Southern Comfort as ‘SoCo’…) in which entrants embark on a 30-day writing challenge to bash out 50,000+ words of a story they conjured up while waiting for Firefox to load.

Neither of these ever reached their ends. Though I did complete the 50,000 word challenge. The story wasn’t anywhere near finished but I had the foresight to print off the manuscript (That’s £12 at my local library I’ll never see again) and edit the whole thing by hand. Red pen and everything.

So far so good...

Again, this didn’t pan out. I have no ending in sight, the haphazard method by which I zoomed through the word count means that the syntax resembles how a blind gorilla would interpret a work of art using only snot. And the plot is so stream of conscious that entire paragraphs were formed before my brain could clock what language I was writing in. Ergo: the manuscript now lies dormant in a drawer under a heavy folder containing boring adult documents like bank statements, P45’s (a lot of them!) and that injunction that doesn’t deserve any more recognition here…

From my experience there seem to be several pitfalls when it comes to attempting a project of this magnitude. I have spoken to authors who have expressed feelings of soul-crushing loneliness, stacks of notes that litter desks like the aftermath of a despondent tree that ended its life by leaping into a wheat thresher. As well as the much hated ‘editing process’; a dreaded endeavour which would be the driving equivalent of making someone become a qualified mechanic before they could learn to drive.

I think my problem is that starting a new novel is much like taking on any fresh task. Everything feels so new and exciting. It’s a chance to set a goal in mind and to keep the brain active and the voices at bay until the wine kicks in. But I lose steam quite quickly. I think this is generally know in writing circles as ‘losing steam really fucking quick’. It’s like when I used to become enthusiastic about designing my own Quake levels. What inevitably happens is the game’s protagonist would wander around three meticulously designed rooms only to fall off the edge of the map into oblivion after something colourful fluttered by my window.

That’s what my attempts are, aren’t they? Evidence of a momentary spark of imagination interrupted by a hyperactive mind that grew up on television and Skittles. Someone should buy me blinkers.

But then there are the problems with the Internet. This is an age in which entire walls of text can appear like it was crafted with perfection the first time round because drafts are erased and edited without your carpet being covered in crumpled up paper. This entire entry has seen more than its fair share of the Backspace button, for example. And the less said about Internet porn the better. (I cannot believe I said that with a straight face!)

Which leads me round to my next point: why am I telling you all this on a free blog when these are words that could be used in the story I have been planning for nearly a year? There’s a war on you know!

Leave a comment

  1. Hi there!

    How’s the novel coming? You’ve been REALLY quiet lately … 😉

  2. Andrew says:

    I think you answered your own question with the word “quiet” 🙂

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