I have now morphed into ‘Doubting Thomasina’ with regards to writing my first novel. I knew that this would happen at some stage but I hoped I would cross the ‘first draft completed’ stage before doubt’s terrible onset. I now fear that opening a chapter written weeks ago will spiral me into a panic when I realize how truly awful and juvenile it reads. I wonder will I be able to finish the first draft with my creative confidence now so low ?
It was too good to be true – I hurtled away for weeks and weeks, writing solidly every day. Then late last week, the rhythm of my work changed – words no longer flowed as smoothly and my ideas had become less colourful. Paragraph structure became clunky and sentences became less lyrical. Had I used the same words too many times; was my phraseology being repeated and did my characters have enough individual characteristics to make them come alive?
I had hoped that I would encounter this crippling doubt after my first draft was completed – perhaps when I had settled into the first editing stage? Alas not! Now I am doubting all that I have already written, all that I still need to write complete my first draft and all that I will need to rewrite many, many times before it is even close to being where I want it to be.
Creative confidence appears to be an elusive disposition – where for art thou ‘Thomasina the Believer’, I hope that you show up soon!
In November 2011, I became a self-proclaimed Irish writer (albeit, very newbie) and started work on my first novel. Losing my job and having no sense of what I wanted to do with my life finally drove me to seriously consider committing to the project. I had talked about starting a novel for 10yrs, and I knew I had a story to tell, but I had never until now felt so driven to begin it. I could no longer contain the story within me, and I’m glad I’ve waited. Events of the past few years have added the best possible insight to the over-all story – the time seemed right to start.
I knew from the outset the entire process would be a tough job and a long slog. I had my ideas, my characters, my plots, and my themes down – all inspired from true events and people. I considered the structure over and over until I decided there was only one way I could tell the story to give it justice. The novel would have two sub-stories told separately at intersecting chapters, as they were intrinsically linked together. They would then weave together towards the mid-end to a bitter crescendo. The fallout over many years afterwards would be examined, but mostly from the POV of the centre character who then entered a stage of self-reflection, depression and philosophical examination.
I couldn’t bear to read any plotting guidelines and structure guides as, whether foolishly or not, I wanted to tell the story from the heart, the way it happened. I am almost 70K words in now and aiming for 80K+ on the first draft. I’ll give it a rest then for a few weeks and revise.
I may hate it, and cut chucks out or hide it in a box for it never to be seen again. My only goal now is to keep plodding on, 8 hours a day writing until I have finished. I am aiming for end of February to ‘tools down’ on the first draft and let it (am me) sleep for a week. Writing is mentally & emotionally exhausting I have found.
- Read a book on Grammer!
- Re-read MS as a whole & mark-up
- Revise MS
- Tear hair out
- Read MS as a whole again & mark-up
- Tear hair out
- Revise MS
- Proofread entire MS backwards.
In the meantime, I need to check out literary agents for women’s fiction (the dark kind), publishing houses, editors and critique services. I am a long way off from finishing, but pleased that months of full time writing have yielded 70k words, that have been therapeutic if nothing else.I am hoping that’s good for a newbie Irish writer.