I took a new piece of writing to my writing group last night. It was something I had written last week, when I was pushing aside my draft novel and felt bereft without putting at least some words on the page. The challenge was to write something outside of our typical genre, to open ourselves up to new types of writing. I don’t know where it came from but I began writing and what spilled out of me was the beginning of what appears to be a spy thriller.
I don’t even read this genre, nevermind specifically want to write it. But the opening scene just happened and when I read it out during our meeting the other members of the group were complimentary and enthusiastic. Granted, it’s not the most technically dazzling literature, but it does have action that hooks a reader and presents a character not often seen in the genre (apparently): an aging female agent who has been out of the ‘game’ for six years and is being dragged back in to a shady underworld that she is no longer familiar with.
I am surprised. Not just because this piece of writing was something done for fun, on a whim, that I didn’t think was particularly good, but also because I was able to create a clear, descriptive narrative that was full of action and made my writing colleagues want to read on. As a result, the ‘homework’ for this week is to finish off something we’ve already started: the spy thriller piece at the top of my list.
Now not only am I struggling to get back into completing the draft of That which is left is lost because I’ve spent some time away from it, but I’m also distracted by my new character and the potential of her adventures in a genre I am unfamiliar with. Perhaps because the spy thriller is new to me and I am treating it as something fun and whimsical I feel more able to tackle this challenge instead of finishing the draft of the novel I’ve been working on for three years.
As I’ve said before, I’m so close to finishing the novel that it’s become almost impossible to complete. I’m fearful of finishing and I am struggling to understand not just why but also how I can overcome this. Maybe rediscovering my relationship with writing outside of the novel will remind me of the buzz and accomplishment putting words on the page can provide. I’m certainly not feeling this with my current WIP, as every word seems to be difficult and, despite having an outline, I don’t seem capable of putting the actions I have in my head down onto paper. I know exactlywhat I need to do to bring the novel to climax and then to its natural conlcusion but I’m paralysed when it comes to actually manifesting words to create this.
I’m so tempted to put it aside and forget about it. Instead I could have fun exploring a new idea, a new genre, a new character. But I can’t do that, can I? I’ve come this far: doesn’t this novel deserve to be finished? Have I wasted three years and over 200,000 words (if you count my varied drafts) on a story that isn’t worth finishing?
There it is, the fear…or perhaps I’m labelling it as fear when it should be deemed an admission of acceptance. Have I already made up my mind and I’m just too afraid to face it?
I’m not sure I’m ready for that. Not Yet.