Diary of a Literary Commitment-Phobe

MizmazeIt’s a little bit like falling in love, writing. Previously I’ve been pretty promiscuous; I love the instant gratification of short stories and think of your own metaphor for Flash Fiction. There’s that initial wow; that frenzied excitement, the high of the idea.

But now I want a proper relationship, a novel, something long-term. This requires investment and commitment, so I’ve decided on 1000 words a day. Depending on my mood, this has been beautifully flowy or an angry argument.

Then earlier in the week I came to the ‘I’m not sure if this is working’ stage. ‘Do I even like you?’ I asked my draft. I was enjoying the parts set in the present with a first-person voice, they’re immediate and easy to connect with but the third-person 90s sections felt like a soap opera; too mundane, too real.

Last night I decided to end it; it was over. If I was finding elements of my work tedious how could I possibly impose it on a reader? I started considering other half-written novels I could dust off, get back in touch with. Interestingly my other ‘big’ projects all also stopped around the 10,000 words mark.

Then this morning I had a revelation. Blam! If what I was enjoying about my story is the present first-person voice then why didn’t I write it mainly that way, just include more viewpoints. I immediately started hearing voices for the two other central characters. I got all fluttery about William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. Now that is a book full of fascinating people. And back to our MA’s reoccurring fairy-tale style; the past is a fairy tale so I could tell it like that, taking a steer from The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye by A. S. Byatt.

I was giddy. It was back on, oh yes!

Then this evening, when I was wasting time on Twitter, I saw Claire Fuller’s current post about dual and multiple narratives: http://clairefuller.co.uk/2015/05/28/writing-dual-narratives/ . Very useful advice!

Finally, I need to learn to shut my mouth. Pitching and talking about my idea has slightly damaged it. It’s a dream growing in my head, a bit special, and needs to be nurtured, not dissected over coffee, like a latest conquest.

We’re not in love yet, but we’re back to holding hands. When we’re not screaming at each other in the supermarket.

Kath Whiting
MA Creative & Critical Writing
Also posted on http://kathwhiting.blogspot.co.uk/


91 thoughts on “Diary of a Literary Commitment-Phobe

  1. Pingback: there’s a purgatory for incomplete novels | sliteyedbitch

  2. I completely relate to this. I hit a block in my writing months ago and never really recovered, but it’s nice to know that others struggle with similar things and have found ways to overcome the obstacle! Best of luck to you on your novel!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. That post spoke to my SOUL. I am of the instant gratification family (in more ways than I care to admit and in some ways that are even quite disturbing). But the novel. Yes. A dream of mine. And I’m terrified of it. Paralyzingly so. So, thank you. I am new to the blogging world. Dipping my toes into the water of putting my work out there. Starting very small. But starting.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So when you write 1,000 words a day, how much of that do you come back to? Would you finish, say, a 125k word novel in 4 months? I ask because it took me about 1.5 years to finish a novel that length, of course I didn’t write nearly 1k words a day! That’s impressive though!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m not even ready to entertain the idea of writing a novel. I’m still trying to get the hang of this blogging life. I appreciated your post because I can certainly see myself in it. Best of luck on your projects.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Been dreaming about starting a novel for so long, after my previous draft of 12 chapters burnt to dust, on my old pc. Can relate to this so well. Made me see my yet unidentified problem. Good luck writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Haha. I can relate to this greatly. Although, I have always planned to write but haven’t gotten past the ten chapter mark. It’s something about being not able to complete my story because something new caught my attention. Anyway, I wish you the best for your novel x

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This literally moved me, and the depth of actualizing the formality of writing is amazing. I shook my head in approval the entire time. Love it

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The struggle is real. One day I finally decided to create my blog, just to blurt out all of those passionate-urge-to-write moments. Now I can happily leave those where they are and focus on my current projects, because I know I am allowed to follow any impulse I have and get it out of my system when I need to. I suppose the trick has been to stop limiting my writing by being a disciplinarian about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Nice read! I can relate too, I have two quotes on my office wall that help me…..”I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shovelling sand into a box so later I can build castles” SHANNON HALE and this one always makes me smile…”The first draft of everything is shit” ERNEST HEMINGWAY

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I appreciate this so much. I am working on my memoir and more often than not, I wrestle myself to the page. It is the thing that I most want to finish while also being the work that I sometimes run from. Oh the conflict. The fear. The doubt. And the deep satisfaction.

    Liked by 1 person

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