I have been stuck for a while. I have blamed it on many things but mainly the upheaval of moving to a different city. But I was stuck before that as well, and then I blamed it on summer and it’s associated distractions – socialising, long evenings, heat. The truth is I would be stuck no matter what was going on and these are just useful excuses.
I started thinking that maybe I am done, I’ve published something, isn’t that enough? Am I really going to just keep doing this, over and over and over? It’s really hard. And apparently it won’t ever not be hard. What the hell have I got myself into?
I have a draft of a novel, and another almost-draft. This is supposed to be good. I have done a lot of work and I’m reasonably proud of both of them. I should be elated.
But I’m not. After weeks (months) of tinkering, changing a word and knowing deep down the change did nothing, I did what we all do when we get stuck these days and I asked google. I found this:
A first draft is the beginning of the end. But the end lasts for ever.
Forever is a long time. I feel like I should be seeing a finish line for at least one of these drafts but instead it is like I just got off the plane at the foot of the Andes, and now I have to actually climb the bloody mountains. All of them. Do I restructure? Change the tense? (If you have ever changed the tense of more than a page, you will know what an intimidating thought that is.) Will it actually be better if I drastically change it or am I so tired that anything different will seem fresh and interesting? Do I just throw in the towel and start something else from scratch, something that might be good enough with only one draft? In the words of Mr Bernard Black, don’t make me laugh bitterly.
The worst thing, by far, is that there is nothing for it but to keep going, at a snail’s pace, with lots of cursing and wine, with the knowledge that even if the end comes it might not really be the end, there might be another eight-hundred drafts behind it, and the constant toddler-like foot-stamping changes nothing. This is it, and you better believe it just keeps going.