Thursday, 3 June 2010

The River In Egypt

I’ve successfully avoided writing (apart from my last post) now for about...well, lots of days. How many, I’m not sure but I’d stab a guess at about twenty four. Twenty Four! I hear you all exclaim. That’s not days, that’s almost four weeks! But up until this moment in time, I haven’t wanted to face that. I’ve been happily ignoring the passage of time on that river in Egypt. ‘De Nile’ as they called it in the Dublin I grew up in.


Denial, I have learned since my Irish childhood, is a wonderful thing. I like to think of it as the mind’s way of telling you it’s alright to delay facing the truth. Especially when the truth means admitting I’m lost. Yes, lost. And it looks nothing like that exotic island that Sawyer lived on (yum, yum, but I digress...) It looks more like empty greyness and feels a little scary.

So, in deciding this morning that I’ve got to face facts and get back to my writing, I’ve also had to confront what happened? There are reasons and excuses, of course. I was away for one week of those twenty four days, on holiday – always a laptop free zone. But all those other days, well I wasn’t packing and unpacking for seventeen days, was I?

I know it’s okay to take a break from writing, but in the past its something I’ve done consciously. When I’ve needed time out from the process, I’ve given myself permission to do just that, enjoyed it and then went back as soon as it felt right. But this is different. Right now, I WANT to be writing. I NEED to be writing. I have lots of things I want to write; characters, scenes, all screaming to be heard like naughty children refusing to behave. So why have I done nothing with them, ignored their pleas, stuck my fingers firmly in my ears and chosen to iron shirts, phone my mother, or watch Jeremy Kyle? (yes, I admit it – the lure of the telly was strong that morning) And why having done all that, have I pretended I didn’t?
Part of the reason is because I haven’t yet decided on the exact project I want to concentrate on. Lots of things are begging to be written but there’s no coherence yet. To date, I’ve written two novels. And though I’ve dabbled in other things whilst writing them over the last three years, they have been the main events. And since finishing and submitting book two (Er, okay...Here’s where I admit that I haven’t finished submitting book two. Shit. This is turning into a therapy session...)

Where was I? Yes, since finishing book two, I’ve started and dismissed three versions of two possible novels. And nothing feels right. The fact that I’m not speeding ahead splurging a first draft like has happened before, more than likely means that none of these novel ideas are the right one to pursue – which means back to the drawing board – which means...AAARRRRGGGHHH!

See this is why denial, though grey and scary when confronted, has a certain attraction when ignored.

Facing facts, I know I’ve been in denial because it’s just damned hard sometimes. I just don’t have a clear vision of book three yet. And I feel I should have and I’m scared. What if all these ideas still roaming around my head remain just that? Roaming, silly ideas – none good enough to form the hooky basis of a plot with exciting vibrant characters... What if I can’t write a book three? And what if I do and I end up filing it away with book one and two?

All scary stuff.
But I have now confronted the monster.
And in clearing my head, allowed some space for coherence.
At least, that’s the theory. Watch this space for the practise...

10 comments:

Ann said...

De Nile seems to be making an exit. Sounds like you are just about ready to launch. Good for you. I am having problems getting myself back onboard with the writing, as I stare at the notebook that stares back at me accusingly! Good luck. May De Nile change its course!

Paul said...

I think what you have to do is simply dive into any one of your projects and get to writing it. See where it goes, how it develops, if there is sufficient mass to it. I suspect at least one of your ideas feels heftier than the others. Write your way to an answer.

Lou Belcher said...

Clearing your head (or the page as the case may be) is a start to getting going again. I've found that if you just keep writing about not writing, you will naturally transition to book three.

Maribeth said...

Lou's right. Keep writing and the transition will come.
Maybe you're trying too hard? Write, write anything just so you write.

Maribeth
Giggles and Guns

Debs Riccio said...

See, Fi, this is why we need an Agent. Someone to bolster us up and tell us 'come on - of course you can write another belter just like the last one' - this is the problem unpublished writers face - the actual validation that anything we're writing is any good... isn't it?

Fidelity said...

Maybe you really need a rest so that it will come to you more easily; get away from it so that you come back refreshed and with great new ideas. Writing should be more like dancing than mining. Fionnuala is a lovely name; the other gender version of Fionn the leader of the Fianna?

Maybe write about your life as the wife of the legendary Irish warrior: "I want to tell you, reader, about my life as the wife of the Irish warrior. That was before I was turned into this willow tree at the golden lake by the jealous witch Magro, the ugly, who wanted to sleep with the Chieftain of the Gaels."

Fionnuala Kearney said...

Thanks for all yoiur comments. I feel the fog/comfort of denial lifting! FIdelity - quite like that idea!

DJ Kirkby said...

*snerk* now I see why you laughed at my facebook update :). I'm going to start writing again too. I haven't been able to since I began my Uni course last October as I knew couldn't work full time, study and write. I submitted my last assignment today though so I'm now going to find out if I still remember how to write!

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Oh, how I relate to this...
Thanks for your honesty.
Susiex

AliB said...

Yes, I also relate to this. Like you I've finished 2 novels and for several months have failed to commit to no. 3. (In fact I did so much research I literally lost sight of whatever plot I had thought of in the first place). But I do think it's sometimes right to wait, even if only to build up that 'head of steam' that will eventually carry us forward.
Good luck and thanks for a post that has made me feel less alone!
AliB
http://debutnovelist.wordpress.com