After all my waffling last month over the unscalable mountain of self-doubt, it turns out I was pretty close to the summit. Once I’d rediscovered my momentum, the words flowed easily and each day I chipped away at the book until one particular Tuesday I typed the final words, almost in a state of disbelief.
Those words can give any writer goosebumps. For some of us, those two words are elusive. Slippery little things that are always just beyond our grasp. From the first word on the page, we’re fighting desperately to reach them, but perhaps some small part of us is afraid of what comes next. What happens after the writer catches those words. What if it’s not as good as what we have in our heads! What if nobody ‘gets it’? What if we fail? That’s why writers can become paralysed. Trapped in a state of perpetual revision, chasing a form of perfection that simply isn’t achievable.
Not to mention that writing a book is a long process. This particular book is reasonably small, a mere fifty thousand words. And it’s not as if these words are written consecutively. Half an hour here, an hour there. An unblinking, late night stint one day. Painful dribs and drabs another. Thoughts, concepts and themes that exist weeks apart. Months. Maybe even years. All pulled together into something that needs to be not just cohesive for the reader, but actually bloody entertaining.
It’s said we’re our own biggest critics, and I am no exception. I have a lot - an insane amount really - of potential books planned for this world I’ve been sculpting. I want this first book to be able to stand up on its own even when book ten is out, or book twenty, or by the time the TV show airs. Oops, my dreams are showing. The problem with being a dreamer, or even being ambitious, is that it can create a need to get it PERFECT. Because otherwise, it’s messing with the dream!
Sometimes, when a writer reads their own meandering tomes, it can leave them with a feeling of dread at wasted time, energy and dreams. I’ve had read-throughs like this in the past, where you feel like lobbing the entire document in the scrap. But that’s always harsh. Always the critic’s eye - the fearful eye - chasing perfection. Most of the time when I read back my own work, it’s a mixture of ‘I like this part, but…’ and ‘it needs work here, here and here’.
So I’m sure you can imagine my utter bewilderment when I read back my own words and somehow didn’t want to tear my own eyes out. Somehow, I actually… enjoyed it? We’ll see if I’m simply getting high on my own supply, or if my readers agree with me once my beautiful beta readers get hold of the book.
And just to add to the sensation of turning over a new page, in the same week I finally finished my biggest DIY project in the garden, finished my repairs in the house and got offered a new job…
When I had all these projects looming over me, it could feel overwhelming at times. Like I was just endlessly toiling with no results. But now that hard work is finally starting to bear fruit.
Let’s hope they taste as good as they look.