So remember how I started writing a novel a while back? Well, I have a problem. And, as I’m probably the first and only writer in the history of the world to ever have this problem, I am going to whine about it and blog about it and make a general nuisance of myself until I finally decide to pull it together.
The trouble, you see, is that I’m 100,000 words in and I can’t finish.
There are several reasons for this.
The first is that I don’t know where I’m going. My novel took on a complete life of its own once I got started. I had no idea where it was headed—literally no idea—but somehow it transformed from a bunch of semi-autobiographical nonsense (written, initially, to keep me from killing my undergraduate flat mates in London) into something much, much bigger. This is beauty of the creative process, but it is also the curse. In fact, I feel like I’ve done the literary equivalent of painting myself into a corner and even though I know what lies across the room, I don’t know how to get there.
Also, I suck at outlining. I’ve tried it: with sticky tabs, with graph paper, with markers and a white board, with all of the fancy gadgets available through Microsoft Word but my brain doesn’t work unless I’m writing. I write to figure out what I think; I write to figure out what I want to say; I write to figure out what is going to happen. I don’t know if this is normal or not. Actually, I don’t care if it is normal or not—everyone has their own process, right?—what I care about it whether or not this particular process is going to yield any actual results.
Next up, I think my writing is crap. I can point to plenty of nice little bylines and even a few decent paychecks as far as my non-fiction is concerned but fiction? I haven’t published a damn thing. I’ve won a few contests here and there, and I keep telling myself I need to frame the award certificates to cut down a bit on the self-loathing, but I keep forgetting to buy frames so naturally I spend most of my free time thinking, “Your writing is crap. You are crap. No one is ever going to want to read this.”
Furthermore, I lack discipline. I told myself no sex until my first draft was finished, but then my friend from college came to visit and well… I have discovered that it is much easier to deny other people sex than to deny yourself sex (especially when you’re going through a break up and haven’t had sex, decent or otherwise, in quite some time). So much for that.
Bottom line, I am not being professional. I am being artsy. And by “artsy” in this particular context, what I really mean is flakey. If this blog post had been written by somebody else, I would be full of good ideas and suggestions: set yourself some goals! Make a deadline and stick to it! Give yourself an incentive to finish!
But at the end of the day, it all comes down to professionalism. I wouldn’t run my dance company this way, skipping rehearsals whenever I felt like it or setting a new piece only if I was 100% sure it would be successful. I wouldn’t teach my college students in this way, showing up late to work or grading their papers only when I felt “inspired” enough to do so. I would lose my job. And my company would fall apart.
So maybe… yeah. I think I need to just stop blogging for today and get to it.