Even though I’m tantalisingly close to completing the first draft of my novel, I’m still finding it incredibly difficult to actually finish it.
The words are still flowing, but the action is definitely not. All my characters appear to have piled into the same room and are now politely chatting away to one another when there should be masses of tension and frustration and hatred. Instead, it’s like a mixer for novel auditions with each individual trying to take on a role in my imagined cast and each of them failing miserably at portraying the characteristics I attributed to them.
Suddenly no-one is acting as they are supposed to. Cecelia – whose father committed suicide after a false allegation of child abuse by Madeline – is now shy and withdrawn, when earlier in the book she was desperate for a showdown. Penelope – whose child is actually Madeline’s – seems to have forgiven Madeline for blackmailing her out of the country and is now perfectly happy for her daughter to meet this monster of a woman who is the mother that not just abandoned her child, but sold her on the black market.
Perhaps it’s my latent elation at almost fulfilling my dream of writing a novel that is leaking through my fingertips onto the written page. Maybe I simply can’t create the conflict required just now because I’m too overjoyed at the thought of being done that I can’t tap into that tension and drive required to make my characters vent their own frustrations. What I do know is that, if I continue writing in this vein, my novel is going to have an ending that closely resembles a damp squid on a disappointingly pebbled beach.
I know that beginnings are supposed to suck – after all the start is where I ventured into the unknown and I didn’t know any better, didn’t really understand my characters or clearly comprehended my theme. I thought the ending was supposed to come together and make all that went before appear destined – finishing the novel with a bang. Not so in my case, it seems.
The only thing I can think to do at this point is to keep writing. If I put it aside I have the deep-rooted fear that I will never get back to it – that this inability to mould the final scenes into what I want will scare me away for good. I can only believe that this is a process I have to experience in order to finish the story I started telling a year ago. Maybe this is just my writer’s way. Maybe I’ve missed out some vital detail along the way that I’m not yet aware of and need to resolve before I can write ‘The End’. This pussyfooting around the issues at the heart of my narrative can’t go on forever – after all November will be here too soon – so I’m going to take a deep breath, focus my mind and just keep writing.
I’m taking up the song from ‘Finding Nemo’ and altering it to my own purpose:
“Just keep writing, Just keep writing…”
Hopefully I’ll find the solution and finish my novel before the endless refrain drives me mad!