Frustration and Opportunity

I really can not be bothered today. Over the past few days, since I did my novel outline, I have struggled to write anything of any real value to contribute to it. Now that it’s all down on paper planned out I seem incapable of actually writing it all down. I have been thinking about it a lot though – how to deal with the plot twists, what my characters motivations might be, how actions from the past lead to behaviour in the present. Still, it appears that the more I think about it, the less I can write it down.

Perhaps this is all part of the process, and being a ‘new’ writer I just don’t know this. I feel blocked and frustrated and today I am sick to death of fighting it. I don’t want to think about it today, but my mind still wanders into it and somehow produces slight secretions of guilt into my brain and I feel I ought to be writing, rather than feeling compelled to share the story. It’s difficult to write on other topics too, since the novel is now shackled in some cohesive manner to my creative thinking so as I sit down to write my one sentence I discover that what I want to write is the novel, yet there is nothing yet ready to manifest itself on the page.

I’m still reading, just about. I read an entire novel in one sitting on Friday which I haven’t done for quite some time. It wasn’t a great novel; easy reading if anything. While I started out analysing the possible method to chapters and characters and plot twists by the time I got to the end I was mostly just concerned with finishing the last page. Perhaps this is what has me paralysed: I could write a novel like that. But, do I want to?

I don’t want to write something that is immediately discardable. What I love about books is that ability they have to linger long after the final page has been turned and the covers closed and returned to the shelf. I find my favourite novels usually have this etheral quality to them, an ability to form a part of myself and help define some of the emotional content of my own life. The Thorn Birds, Little Women (& Good Wives), We need to talk about Kevin, The Reader, The Time Traveler’s Wife…all such books that I find resonate with me because when I had completed their epic tale I felt anchored to it, connected somehow to the fate of those characters. I suppose I felt I was their confidente, the friend who is told all of their secrets, who has the opportunity to put the pieces back together and make sense of them. Each of them makes me feel nostalgic about that first reading that comes when you are so glad to have reached the end and understand that final discovery but also experience sadness, disappointment even, for the very fact that you will never be able to have that ‘first-read’ again; never will the lust for that specific knowledge about particular characters and their setting overwhelm you and draw you deeper into the world of fiction so that when you look up, finally, the real world appears to be the story and the novel real life.

It’s a lot to ask of myself though. To desire to write such a novel. Expectation is very high, and perhaps that is why I struggle now; fear of failure, fear of success, fear of…everything in between. Novel writing is a process, and if it were easy we would all be doing it. As I read somewhere once, there are plenty of people out there with the same dreams and ambitions as me but they aren’t doing a damn thing about it.

Today, perhaps I won’t really do a damn thing about it, but maybe tomorrow I’ll start over and realign my ambition to cater for my inexperience and allow myself permission to make mistakes. After all, it’s the mistakes our characters make which create the narrative worth telling in the first place.

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