When writing is like pulling teeth - Jo Carroll

I've begun another novel.

I love the idea (I'm not sharing that yet). I love the research - I've wallowed in books, taken myself off to tramp up hills and down a coal mine. My notebook overflows with lovely characters (and some not so lovely).

So why is it so hard to write? I have distractions - we all have distractions. I prevaricate - thousands of us prevaricate but still get words down. I make myself sit at the computer almost every day. For the first time I've given myself word count targets. When I wrote The Planter's Daughter I had no need of word count targets. My head was full and the words flowed. The first draft was messy of course, but that was fine. I had something to work with.

And that's what keeps me going now. I dare not reread, not yet - in case the extent of the inevitable messiness puts me off. But if I can only make myself frame this story into real words then I can settle to the months of drafting and redrafting that might make it into something readable.

But it has got me thinking. Why am I making such a meal of this, when the first novel spilled out of me without a hiccup? Am I trying too hard, unconsciously trying to produce perfect sentences when all I really need to do is write the bloody thing? Is this second-book syndrome -- having produced one I feel some pressure to produce another. (Which is bonkers -- nothing terrible will happen if I don't write it.)

Worse -- am I really convinced by the story? Is that the hold-up? But I am -- I know I am. Maybe my characters aren't yet fully formed, but that I can work on. Maybe I'm not yet familiar with my setting -- I can go back to the hills. Do I need to rethink the structure? Maybe -- but until I see what this looks like, I can't answer that. However, deep down, I know I have a story. And a strong enough story to keep a reader entertained for 300 pages.

And that, even when writing is like pulling teeth, is what keeps me going.

While you're waiting for that, do have a read of The Planter's Daughter.


Umberto Tosi said…
I empathized with and appreciate your candor, having often found myself in the straits you describe so well. Keep paddling and you will reach calmer waters, looking back on the rough spots and realizing that you were indeed moving swiftly forward.

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