Tuesday 6 July 2021

Neverending Story

My 80s writing metaphor for today.

Perfect depiction of my current WIP.

I have made no progress in over a fortnight, and not sure how to start moving again. To be fair, I've been marking end-term papers for my undergrads. It's been quite nice as their end-of-term paper was to write a short story and their presentation was to read the first page. There's been a really nice range of genres and ideas. More fun than marking technical writing, that's for sure. 

But I've also been hit by crippling self-doubt and general end-of-book nerves. I usually hit this when it comes to wrapping up a book. It's that terrifying realisation that you've written 100,000 words that might be crud. When you get this far through, you honestly can't remember ninety percent of what went into it. I am looking forward to editing, I think, but I just can't quite get to the end. I know what needs to happen, but if I never get to the end, I can pretend there's still endless possibilities. Once it's down on paper. That's it. It's done.

So, I've been doing the only sensible thing - rewatching Hotel del Luna, starting Orphan Black, and drinking cheap Chinese baijiu whilst consoling myself with light-hearted romantic dramas. Ganbei!

I release the final grades today and handed in my end-term report. My contract with the university is at an end. I have a couple of things lined up, but nothing starting immediately, so I now have all the time in the world to sit and enjoy my existential crisis. 

Anyway. The book must end. I must write it. 

As of tomorrow I'm forcing myself back into a writing regime.

Twenty thousand more words and I reckon I'm done. 

We've pretty much gone back into lockdown in Rwanda at the moment. Restaurants are doing delivery only, and the curfew dropped from ten to six. I could really use a change of scenery. If it was normal times I might have wandered off somewhere by the lake to hole myself up and write, but for now it's the same four walls as always. Just need to slap myself into action. I'll be fine once I start, it's just getting those first few lines out.

Like just about every writer in the world, now that I have to finish this book, I've got a hundred new - and, naturally, better - ideas for other books. All of which I have to start immediately. That's the standard writer's response to a difficult novel - complete aversion. 

Years ago, I used to send each chapter to my friend Martine as soon as it was done, and that spurred me on to write the next chapter and the next. As a novice, I was constantly editing as I went. Then the books got a bit more complicated and a lot longer, so I stopped doing that because there were too many holes and mistakes in the rough drafts. I miss having that impetus to churn out the next chapter, though. It did really help. However, Akkad is a complete train wreck of complexity. The first person I'll be sending drafts to is my friend Leif, who is an expert on this time period and can weed out any inaccuracies and help to add detail. After that, I'll start sanding it down until it's smooth enough to show people. 

Just got that 20k left to climb over.

A molehill that feels like a mountain.

Everyone knew that whoever let the wordcount overtake him would sink into the swamp...

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