“When writing a novel a writer should create living people: people not characters.” Ernest Hemingway
Why do so many writers fail to complete their manuscript? Well, I think I’m beginning to understand the reasons.
Writing a novel is not easy. But I was never under the illusion that this was the case. I know it takes hard work and determination, perseverance and stamina along with a large dose of self-belief. If the doubts don’t get you it seems inevitable that the fear of success will.
It is perplexing that I am no longer afraid of failure. I know I can finish the first draft of my book. Every time I sit down to complete another scene I am one step closer to completion. It’s almost invigorating.
But once it’s done there is so much more work to do, and while I feel that I’ve learned how to write over the last year I don’t feel at all confident with my re-drafting or editing skills – if I have any! I guess this is something else that I will have to learn.
There’s also the end point. How do you determine the true end of a story that contains characters you have invented a life for? While my initial idea was to halt the novel when my protagonist died – something that is inevitable from the outset – what happens to all those that she has influenced? What about their stories: do they also end there?
Pondering such thoughts always reminds me of the book ‘Sophie’s World‘ – which is a great book on the history of philosophy that develops into the discovery that the main protagonist is actually a figment of another character’s imagination. Such a concept has always fascinated me and it places great responsibility on the author.
So, it’s no surprise that I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself to perpetuate the integrity of the world and individuals I have created. But how do you leave the people that you have spent the last twelve months with, getting to know, understand and challenge?
I guess I’m on the brink of finding that out. Perhaps in order to finish my manuscript what I need to do is distance myself from my surrogate written family and take a step back that allows me to realise it’s time to let them go, at least for a little while.
I guess I’ll have to take comfort in the fact that, once complete, I’ll be able to re-visit them all in the re-draft.