This is, by now, a common enough feeling. When I get to a certain point in a book that I’m writing, I feel that everything – every word, every paragraph, every sentence – is complete rubbish. I wish that my manuscript would grow wings and fly away – much like the books in this picture – then land on a beach somewhere to be picked apart by the gulls.
With If I Should Lose You, I remember I hit that point when I was about a third of the way into the first draft. Luckily for me, at just that time, I was offered a residency at Varuna on the strength of those 20,000 words of rubbish. The validation of the residency was a huge motivator at a crucial time – it made me think that there must have been something in the manuscript that was good enough to attract the attention of the people at Varuna, so perhaps it was worth forging ahead with. And it was. That book got me an agent, and, as I know I keep reminding you, is being published in September.
I’m now 40,000 words into book three. I should be celebrating. 40,000 words is a huge achievement. Instead, I’m unmotivated, struggling with every work that I type, all because I’m at that point. I absolutely hate everything that I have written. I can see no charm in my characters, no excitement in the plot and no spark in the writing. Given that it’s book three and I’ve had to wade through this feeling for books one and two, you’d think I’d be used to it, able to shrug it off and move on. But it’s really hard when you only have your own faith to get you through.
A very wise fellow author, Julienne van Loon, recently said to me something along the lines of, ‘You just have to get over yourself, get over that feeling of being a terrible writer. Because half of the battle is finishing something.’ And she’s absolutely right. I’ve seen it in students I’ve taught – they are brilliant writers but they are so crippled by the fear of writing rubbish that they never finish anything. And I don’t want to be like that – so scared of what might be that I will never able to reap the rewards of what could be.
So this week’s post is a bit like a motivational pep-talk to myself. To remind me that I do have to get over myself. To keep writing. To finish the bloody book. What do you think? Have you ever been struck by hatred for every word you’ve ever written? Did you get over yourself? How? Do share, I need some more pep-talks.