I've sometimes referred to my latest novel, that I’m busy writing and editing as, ‘my baby’. This is an analogy that I’ve gestated for around nine months, gone through terrible pain to get out into the world ... and then it hardly ever telephones.
Thinking properly about it, it doesn't have much to do with writing a book at all. As once the baby is implanted and stable it will come without any more help from me.
But my book will not arrive if I sit around. I hate the idea of being negative. My new book will arrive only if I use a concentrated effort for whatever period I need to finalise the thing. Every day I look back and mull over what I wrote yesterday, and the day before and the weeks and months before that. Simultaneously I have to keep focused on what I’m intending to write that day, and the next week, and the next month.
I’ve heard that if short-story writers are like sprinters, then writers of novellas are like milers, and we novelists are marathoners!
So as a keen runner myself, I’m running a marathon and it’s nothing like having another cute little baby to bounce on my knee! In keeping that image alive it helps me to focus and be honest with myself.
So by acknowledging that what I’m doing is hard work, I’m not quite so shocked when, many pages in, writing the novel starts hurting. A writer can hit walls with writing, just the same way marathoners hit walls in their running. Inspiration may have got me to the first part but it’s a long way through to the end, and this is where I might need that refreshment stop. I could have written two hundred pages with another one hundred and fifty to go, when all of a sudden I realize there’s a hill in the middle of my track. Going up – not down!
But wait! Like real running (and I’ve done enough long distance runs to know what I’m talking about), the adrenaline kicks in. I get my second wind. Hurrah! The hill slopes away…
But does it really? This hill is real – it’s not easier. Completing this novel is as hard as running long distance. And I’ve found something else out too, after talking to lots of other writers – both new and old stalwarts to the game. It is not inspiration or a second wind that gets you there. It’s Commitment, and a commitment to a process that you have to adhere to.
I have to make a promise to myself that I will write every day – whether I feel like it or not, even a few lines… a few words that you might scrub out the next day but it fulfilled the criteria at the moment.
I take one day at a time, one line at a time, and one step at a time – the same as a long distance runner might. Every line, every word is as important as the next …
When I’ve finished I don’t have a new baby to show around. I have a piece of work that requires more fixing. I have to change words, write more pages, and make alterations.
But I have an achievement that I alone can claim. I made that book. I built it one word at a time, and I can take credit for every atom of its existence. I gave it life, and I did it the hard way. One word at a time, up that hill, because I promised myself I would.
But wait! Writing books is addictive – just like long-distance running. After finishing one novel I crave the challenge for another. I crave the "writers' high" I get on those fabulous halcyon days when the pages flow from my fingertips. And I crave the pleasure that comes from knowing that I am doing what I like doing best. So I’ll go away and write some more, I’m going for that winner’s cup. And what’s more I can do it exactly the way I want to. This is mine, I’ve earned that right.
Luckily - so far - I'm have a great time writing 'Children of The Plantation'. It's a slow process though as I'm not the World's best on the PC. I'm aiming to have it out before the Autumn, with a holiday beforehand! Wish me luck please.
Thank you everyone who've written to me this last week, I really enjoy your comments and posts - keep them coming! You can also get in touch with me on Twitter @FaithMortimer and via my FB page the link is here: https://www.facebook.com/FaithMortimer.Author