I’m coming to the end of my novel. I’ve known for a while that I was hitting the last 10,o00 or so words, as I aways had a target. But, more than that, the story has been told, and a journey has come to an end- for me, for the story, for my characters. We’re all a little relieved, and a little upset. Voices in my head are telling me to tie up a few loose ends, to make sure that I don’t forget to mention this or that. Most of the characters have survived, and a good few haven’t. There are, I hope, good reasons why.
It’s my fifth novel, and the whole process has been very different to any of the previous ones. Usually, I’m very disciplined, and can write 3-5000 words a day without much problem. It’s tough, but I haven’t found it too difficult to actually reach my self-set – or publisher imposed – targets and deadlines before. And so it’s hard, and disappointing and frustrating, to find that I haven’t been able to work that way with this particular novel.
But, it’s also been exciting and frightening and enjoyable. You never learn to write ‘a novel’. You can only learn to wrie your current novel. And every time is different – hoepfully beacause each story is different, and needs to travel a different landscape. This one has been through illness, and fear, and anxiety, and self-doubt. You can read about some of that on other pages of this blog. It’s also been a lifeline and a crutch for me. It’s filled my days and demanded my time and commitment when I really didn’t want, or feel able, to write.
And it needed to be that way, for the story to find its true nature. The other day I had a real revelation about the central protagonists, a genuinely surprising realisation that I would have missed if I’d travelled any faster towards the end. The story is much, much better and richer because of it.
I’m so not finished. There’s the difficult plotting and tying up of plotlines at an end, and then starting again right at the beginning to edit and rewrite. It’s a hard slog and demoralising as you question every line, every word, of something that seemed perfect as it was pouring onto the page first time round.
And then, I have to persuade editors and publishers and agents and readers that it’s as good as I thought it was when I was in the middle of that unreal, hallucintary trance of writing the first draft.
No-one else knows the story yet. It’s lying there, waiting, for you and your imagination to bring it to life. But it’s not quite ready yet. It lies mewling and seeking attenion somewhere between my mind and the computer. Which is another story, as I’ve just bought a new computer but simply dare not move my documents over in case something awful happens and it’s gone forever.
A little longer yet, I tell myself. A little longer yet, and then it really will be