Pulling it all together (or not)

It’s lucky I’m still in love with writing my novel, because otherwise I would have chucked my laptop out of my office window by now (along with myself, in a fit of artistic angst).

I have (drumroll) nearly finished the first draft. Now, don’t get too excited – by “first draft” I mean I have a basic storyline, all the main characters have a vague idea of what they’re supposed to be doing in each chapter and there are huge swathes of text that are complete and utter bullshit (that’s compulsory for a first draft).

I’ve set myself a rather difficult task (she laughed, a touch maniacally) with my story. It’s told by two first person narrators, one on earth, one in…Heaven. The dual narrative arcs have to run parallel to one another, gradually stealing little strands here and there, crossing over, dipping in and out, increasingly intermingling until they culminate in an interwoven climax of inspired, Booker-Prize-winning genius.

Either that, or it will bomb so spectacularly that publishing houses (what’s left of them) will be fighting for the right to publish me simply so they can win the “Worst Publishing Decision Ever” award at the “What the Fuck?” Annual Awards Night.

Yesterday I sat down, determined to sort out exactly what should go where in the first few chapters at least. Three hours later I was on my knees, weeping. Well, not really, but you get the picture.

How on earth, I thought, do I now pull all this together so it starts to resemble something approaching a novel rather than just disconnected, at times inconsistent sections of text? How do I revise and polish and revise again until I actually end up with a half-decent, gripping and well-written story? I ruminated for a moment and decided two things at once: One, I didn’t have the foggiest idea. Two, the creative process is all very thrilling when it’s easy and fun.

Up until now I have just spewed out my imaginings onto the page, blithely thinking as my irresponsible fingers have danced indiscriminately across the keyboard that “I can deal with the hard sorty-outy bits later down the track.”

Ahem. It is now later down the track, and I am not dealing at all well with the sorty-outy bits. This is where the hard work kicks in I guess, and goddammit, no-one ever told me writing a novel would actually involve work. I was labouring under the delusion that my creative brilliance would supersede the need for sweaty effort, allowing me to swan around artistically in my silk bathrobe, periodically wafting to my peony-filled office to translate my musings into inky brilliance. At the end of it all a perfectly fabulous novel would just morph out of the blue and land in my idle lap.


How I would like to look when I write.

And yes, folks, there is a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow, Elvis is living in a small village on the outskirts of Helsinki and working as an insurance broker and politicians genuinely want what is best for their country.


How I actually look when I write.

So, reality check: I’m heading into the deep, uncharted forest of Can I Actually Make This Thing Work. Unfortunately, I think the answer lies not so much in the forest itself but on the path I choose to forge through it. Am I going to just push a few weeds and branches aside and stumble along, ultimately settling for “good enough”? Or am going to draft in the big machinery (i.e. sit my bloody arse down and work) and see the job through until the bitter end?

The latter, she said, feeling exhausted already.

I’ll let you know how I go.

Comments Off

%d bloggers like this: