I’m one of those writers who takes a very long time to get anywhere. I had the first thought about my current work-in-progress way back in 2003. I didn’t put a pen to paper till 2007 and 2 years down the line, have still only managed to get half of what’s in my head, out. In my defence, I have been busy with other things – child-raising, working, and latterly studying for my Creative Writing Diploma – but I had hoped to have at least finished the outline draft by now.
Ah well, it didn’t happen, so I decided I’d go for it in the summer. Last summer was particularly productive and I thought, in my naivety, it would be the same again. Except…it wasn’t. My trusty Moleskine was not completely empty by the end of our time in Tenby, but all I managed was a bit of a chapter. And every time I tried to sit and write, I just couldn’t. In fact, any time I tried to do anything at all, I just couldn’t. So in the end, I decided that it was nature’s way of telling me to take a break.
So, I have. And though I’ve gradually started picking up on my other commitments, my lack of writing has gone on, and on, and on. Every time I’ve thought about my 1943 characters I just haven’t been able to progress their story. Even though I know the general arc, I can’t seem to get down to particulars. Finally, a week ago, I typed up and edited that pathetic remnant of a chapter, pretty crap but at least it’s something. Yesterday, I forced myself to finish that and start another one. Most of it was even worse quality, but suddenly, just before bed-time, out of nowhere, I started putting down some dialogue that felt like it might, perhaps, be worth preserving.
And then in the wee small hours my brain started whirring, and I began to think – if she does that, he’ll do this, and that’s why that person is saying such and such, and the other one is behaving in that way…And, suddenly, I feel I might just be getting started again. So, if I can just finish this section, and then one more, I’ve nearly completed the whole thing… Well, the first terrible draft that no-one will see.
That’s when the real work begins.