Friday, September 16, 2011
Shucking off the Fear
This week I remembered exacty why it is that I write. I've been working on a relatively simple chapter - a man going to dinner at the house of some old friends, with all the mixed emotions something like that involves - and the magic happened. Something clicked.
The current novel has been something of a struggle. I've wrestled to shape my ideas into coherent sentences, ill health has dogged my attempts to finish, and at times it's felt as if I was simply grinding out the words to get from one scene to the next... But this week, out of the blue, I remembered that I write for me, I write to satisfy my creative urges. I don't write for money; I don't write for some idealised audience. I do what I do because I have to, to keep me from doing something even more stupid.
The key to all this was that I stopped what I was doing, sat down on the sofa, and re-read what I'd written, and all the stuff I'd been anxious about faded away. I was actually pleased with what I'd produced - I thought it was good and gripping and readable. That rarely happens when I read my own work.
Then I realised that for months I'd been working under the weight of a pointless fear: I was scared that the themes might bog down the story, and that there wasn't enough "horrory" stuff in there. This week, after my read-through, I thought: so what? This might not be the novel that people are expecting, but it's the novel I needed to write. It's about childhood hopes gone sour, the bitter taste of regret, and incorrect assumptions about what it takes to be a man.
After 70,000 words this novel has finally revealed it's purpose and shown me what it's all about. And instead of worrying whether or not I'll crash and burn I've simply started to enjoy the ride.