Saturday, May 29, 2010

.....................The Last Lap


Haven't been blogging much as I've been writing. In September I decided to write a novella. I had absolute confidence it would take six months (max), because it was an uncomplicated story set over a short space of time. Ha! (Bitter laughter at my own innocence.)

Ten months later I'm editing the last chapter of a novel. It's like being stuck in a relationship I'd planned to end months ago. I need to move on. It's over. Except the nearer I get to "The End" the slower my progress becomes...like one of those sentimental moments in the movies when the hero is nearing the finishing line and everything goes in slow motion.

My mantra (stolen) is to "write without hope, and without despair" and I'm getting there. An awful lot of what I wrote in the early stages has been abandoned as the story that wanted to be told emerged, characters I'd spent a lot of time describing were binned (sorry baby Mary!) to allow for this. The process of writing the novel actually became the process of finding out which novel I was going to write. I've learnt not to get too attached to the first draft or too committed to word counting. Otherwise you can be tempted to manipulate a story to fit your early writing when it really wants to gallop off in a different direction. Next time I won't be so precious about the first three or four chapters because they were really just a process of warming up and getting into the story.

Did I just say next time?

16 comments:

Old Kitty said...

Oh poor baby Mary! LOL!

But if she had to go, she had to go!

I always am fascinated by how writers, erm, write! It's interesting to see that a story emerges at a later stage for you. Very interesting. To a lesser extent for me, I find that I start a blog only to edit the first three quarters because I realise that the last paragraph is sufficient. I find these with short stories for me. I start off with something then realised the "real story" emerges a few paras down. :-)

Good luck with your novella ending!!!! Sounds very exciting - especially as you are keen to move on!! To a new project? Wow.

Take care
x

Words A Day said...

Thanks Old Kitty, I find it the same with short stories as you do, seem to write my way into it and out of it, so usually end up trimming off the top and tail! I didnt have an outline for the novel, just started writing with the general idea that things were going to get real bad for this couple I had in mind. I try to write intuitively, with no preconcieved plot - probably why I ended up doing so much rewritiing in the end but I dont think I could write a novel if I knew the beginning, middle and end...where's the fun in that? (Yes, poor baby mary, a casuality of my writing habits, and I'd paid such close attention to her dimpled fists...!)
Thanks for your good wishes, all the best

Jan Morrison said...

bwahahah! yep, do dee do dee doo, I'll just wander into this nice novel writing garden. (big squelching noises) gggacckkk! I've fallen into this bog - hellup hellup! (screamy girl noises) Louisa Alcott and Lucy Maud Montgomery saunter by totally absorbed in a conversation about puffed sleeves and their unhealthy fixations on adolescent girls (the writers not the sleeves). A chipmunk runs over to the bogged writer, "heh, heh...thought you'd write a 'little novel' eh? (canadian chipmunk obviously)"
I'd throw you a rope but you'd only use it in some chapter you hadn't even considered yet. good pluck my dear.

Words A Day said...

Ha! Ha! & I thought Canadian writers...I mean chipmunks, were "Nice"! Thanks for the inspiring comment Jan ... ropes, monkeys, unhealthy interests in adolescent girls - where's my notebook?

Brigid said...

Good on you, Niamh.
Its great to get something finished.
I am a bit like yourself, I dont really like too much structure and like to see where some piece of writing goes, best of luck with getting it out there.

Words A Day said...

Thanks Brigid,everyone finds their own way but I do think that seeing where something goes is a lot more exciting for a writer than imposing a preconcieved plot. I love those moments where I've a new realisation about a character (like, ...she knew all along! or,...he doesn't belong in this story, or, more usually... oh my god she's dead already!) and the pieces all begin to fit together. Thanks for commenting!

Patchwork Bird said...

Well done. It sounds like you've grown really attached to your story which is always a good sign that the story is believable and hopefully the reader will love the characters too. Best of luck with it x

Barbara Scully said...

Thanks for this Niamh - Its always great to hear how real writers go about the process of a novel! I definitely overthink the process... go with the flow .. might be a better technique alright!

Orla Fay said...

Oh well done, you must be so excited and you should savour the editing and the completion!

Words A Day said...

Thanks Patchwork Bird, Hope your right!

Barbara, Thanks! You have me in a quandry! I'm torn between saying "But I'm not a real writer" and "we're all real writers"! My son is hollaring Hey Ma look at me! from the bath,
...his face was covered in bubbles -yes Papa Smurff is alive and well and living with me! Like you (and old Kitty) I'm endlessly interested in how others write, how they fit it in, how may hours, how they approach their stories, novels, poems... even whether they write by hand or straight onto the computer...and esp writers who have children. Might try and find some to interview! Thanks for your comment. all the best

Words A Day said...

Thanks Orla! I'll try and savour the final editing. It would be a good, (and helpful) attitude to take!
The completion will be a real big deal for me, a first, so it will be a great feeling to actually finish. I'm terrible for going back over my work, I'd come back from the dead to move a comma!

niamh said...

Baby Mary! Sounds tragic :( Hope it all works out for you in the end - maybe you could do a Spin-off for her character?

Talli Roland said...

Bye bye Baby Mary!

So congratulations for nearing the end of the novella! And enjoy the editing!

Olive said...

Congratulations on almost being finished. A novella is pretty cool and a lot more than I can say for myself. It's often the last hurdle that's the hardest, isn't it?

dublindave said...

Hi Niamh,

Congratulations on that - that's amazing - completing a short story is hard enough so well done!

Orla Fay said...

lol to move a comma! well I think you're right to seek perfection in your work