One year down…
That was year one then.
I think I have done two things in the right order. Run a few marathons. Then try to write a novel.
It feels similar. Both are painful, for one thing. And year one of running was trying things out, not worrying too much about it and getting to the end of the year and realising that there had to be a better way of doing it.
That’s about where I am now with the book. And I’ve just re-read Sol Stein’s book on writing because now I see what he’s talking about. I didn’t get it the first time round, I was too dead set on just writing. But since then I’ve read some excellent novels… and some pretty poor ones, but I can now see what’s wrong with them. I haven’t dared read through any of what I’ve churned out this last year.
So I’ve gone back to the absolute basics of my characters. I’m stopping myself from going any further until I can see a difference in them when I write from their perspective. It might still not be good – but it’s definitely not as bad.
It all just takes time. And patience. And definitely a good dose of bloody-mindedness.
There are more than enough days when I think I could happily chuck it in. It’s hard work, lonely, and you spend far too much time doubting yourself for it to be a healthy way to spend your time. But I don’t stop mid-marathon either because I know it will be worth it when I cross the finish line. And anyway, I couldn’t really stop writing.
George Orwell understood it well:
Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.
And, having waded through more than a reasonable amount of Thomas Mann’s incredibly long books in which not a lot happens, I am glad that at least it wasn’t easy for him:
A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.
So… on with year two. Year two of running was the year of breakthrough. Here we go then…