I spent about three months wallowing in self-pity, wondering why I’d ever tried to write this blasted novel. For three months, I didn’t write a single word. I didn’t edit. I didn’t even think about the novel if I could help it. I read novels, watched a lot of TV, and went swimming. I cooked fancy dinners in my new kitchen.
A friend asked me to edit his memoir and offered to give my novel a once-over in return. I told him thanks but no thanks, that the novel was largely unfinished and uninteresting, and that he would be lost before the first chapter ended. After that conversation I sat down to skim the novel one last time before shelving it for good. I was just reading it so I could give him a better idea of how bad it was…
… and discovered it really wasn’t that bad. In fact it’s pretty awesome. I’m proud of it. That short read-through turned into a marathon editing session which turned into a burst of creative energy that has produced almost 2000 words in two weeks. Not only that, but all that reading helped me figure out what was wrong with my plot and where it needed to go next. Even the swimming, TV-watching, and cooking gave me ideas.
It is a first draft, so it is a work in progress. There are weird blank spots and sections that need to be cut. And it’s only about half-way done. But might I point out that it’s about half-way done which is further than I’ve gotten on any other project ever? And it was so absorbing that in some places I forgot I was reading my own work?
I think I can finish it. I really do. I’m at least going to try my darnedest.
Moral of the story: When the creative well runs dry, a rainy season of other activities can fill it up again.