In 2014 I took the plunge and decided to write the novel I'd been talking about writing since 2009. I gave myself a deadline. By the end of December I wanted a first draft completed, no matter what. The first half of the year I spent finishing off my research and tying up loose ends. Then I gave myself a very tough deadline, to finish one part (three in total) each month.
In July I completed Part I, in August Part II. Part III I'd optimistically hoped to finish in September, however, my day job had been particularly trying at that time, so I didn't manage to finish until December. Then, when it came to editing Draft 2 in January, things began to take an interesting turn ...
Oh God, what was I thinking? What am I doing? Will it never end?
These are the questions that were circling my mind. Whilst I knew edits would be necessary I thought I had a pretty good grasp of it. I didn't. I really, really didn't.
It went something like this:
After a few days of wallowing I then tried to pull myself together. Of course I felt that way. I knew I would, I told myself this would happen. Thing is, you don't always listen to that tiny voice of reason, do you? This was never in a million years going to be easy. I tried to think logically. I couldn't work with a tired brain drained from a tough day at work, not at this crucial stage. So, I needed to get a grip, get a focus. I needed a good nights sleep and a day off so I could work from scratch. And so I took advantage of the weekends whenever I got them free. I opened up a blank document, wrote a brand new opening scene (took hours) and then began to add in my edits from the first draft. My characters, my plot, my factual historical timeline were unpicked, unravelled, and eventually I managed to stitch it all back together again. And it's so much better for it. Part I of Draft 2 is done, so Parts II and III are next, but I suspect these will be easier now I'm in the swing of things.
Something I've found helpful during this time is to read. Read the genre you're writing about. Read something completely different. Rest your mind for short periods and let someone else free it. Ideas about structure and how to tighten a scene come that way, and while it does make you doubt your capabilities (don't compare your writing with theirs, that way lies madness) it does make you want it more. And I do want it. Badly. But I'll get there eventually, partly because I'm stubborn like that and partly because, well, I will. To me, there is no choice.
I've thoroughly enjoyed the writing process, even though sometimes I have stared at my computer screen in despair and battled with feelings of lost inspiration and inadequacy. It's a teething process, cathartic and seemingly never-ending. But I do feel I've finally got somewhere, and that illusive light at the end of the tunnel is in reach.
Watch this space.