Sunday, 21 March 2010


Did some evil pixie come along in the night and nick my ability to write? It’s the only thing that can explain my difficulty in stringing words together of late. I’m still on chapter 19, despite all and sundry urging me forwards. It’s like the more I am urged, the more I hedge. The more I hedge, the more I stall. The more I stall, the more I just sit here eating chocolate, whimpering.

I actually think this condition has a name. It’s called The Fear of Finishing.

It is, of course, the fear of sending this puppy away to frolic alone on an agent’s desk. I worry that it will stumble and fall into the wastepaper bin. I am worried it will drool and appear unseemly. I am worried that despite all the research, the agent will not like puppies. I am also worried about this strange puppy analogy – where did that come from?!

This fear is not helping my writing one jot. Every time I try to add more to chapter 19 it seems my vocabulary has reverted to Ladybird Reader style. Florence can run. Max can run. Let’s all run together!

And then there’s this blog. Sometimes I think, well, if I cannot write on the story I will write here instead. But I find myself horribly thumb-tied over here too. And then I feel guilty for spending too long over here thinking about a post when I should be over there pulling my hair out over chapter 19. I keep thinking that sometime I will find a balance with all this – that everything will start to effortlessly fall into place, and I will be able to comment on others, sort out this blog, follow more people, pretty it up a bit, write my story, go to work and back, and all will be smooth-running. At the moment it all feels like plate spinning.

I also think part of the Fear is a self-confidence thing. I’ve never felt that special as just myself, and ‘being a writer’ is the thing (the only thing) that makes me feel that there is a point, my raison d'être. Sending this off is almost like me asking timidly whether I am special or not! I know it shouldn’t be like that, and I shouldn’t think like that… but it is amazingly hard to change the way you are wired. I do try to think positive – it’s like a constant internal battle – sometimes negative wins, sometimes positive.

The thing I am trying to concentrate on now is that everything really is win/win. If I send it away and they like it, fab! If it is rejected, send it again! If it comes back every time see if it can be changed. If not, put it away for a while, congratulate yourself for completing a novel, and start the next one. If I have to believe writing makes me special, then the ambition to keep going can be what makes me special too.


Talli Roland said...

Oh, I hear you. I have days when my brian feels like a clogged shower and nothing can get in - or out! When that happens I just tell myself to get down what I can, and not to worry (easier said than done, I know). The next day, though, I'm usually fine.

Good luck with the rest of the novel!

Karen said...

Firstly, EVERYONE likes puppies, unless they're evil.

Secondly, all writing is good whether it's a chapter or a blog post, and even when you're not writing you're probably thinking about your story anyway.

Thirdly ... I've forgotten what the third thing was.

We've all felt like this (well I know I have and still do - I'm reading blogs right now instead of getting on with a chapter I'm supposed to be writing!) but you'll get through it.

Chocolate always helps :o)

Donna Hosie said...

Your writing mojo will be back soon I'm sure!

Good luck finishing that novel.

KarenG said...

Me too! Frustrating isn't it? And speaking of special-- I think finishing makes a writer special. Because there's so many of us who let our fears or whatever paralyze our creativity and we don't finish. Good luck with Chapter 19, 20 and all the rest. You can do it! And please don't give up on your blog. I love your posts.

Fran said...

It is definitely a constant inner battle, as you say. Sometimes free writing helps me, just writing about something completely different without even thinking it through. It's the thinking that's a killer!!

Sarah said...

Good luck as you press through this time!

You are so right about ambition being key. Several of the authors at this weekend's Virginia Festival of the Book said the key to success is determination: that sense that you may not be the best one standing, but you will be the last. : )

I know that's helped me whenever I wonder if I'll make it.

Eliza said...

Sorry, no pearls of wisdom to offer I'm afraid. I'd love to write, but I wouldn't even know where to start! You will get there in the end, it must be really hard holding down a job at the same time.

Linda said...

Hi Jayne

You've just got to keep going. Think of all the hard work you've already done. Just think about that finishing line and the joy you will feel by reaching the tape. That's an achievement in itself and that's what will make you stand out from the crowd, the fact that you've done it rather than just talked about doing it like alot of "oh I could write a book" people.

And you think the first three chapters are as good as they can be why not just send them. If they come winging back to you then think of J K Rowling and how many rejections she had.

Fear is a terrible thing and holds us all back if we let it. We just have to beat it and I think you're brave enough.


Gigi said...

I think you were meant to discover my blog today and I was, in turn, meant to find my way over here to yours. I am a writer, too, and I am working on a novel (252 pages as of last night), too. I've been a writer for two decades, but of poetry and essays and such. This is my first novel. At first I was speeding merrily along, but now, as an end is in sight, I am experiencing every single fear and anxiety you describe. It's not an exaggeration for me to say that at moments I feel sheer terror.

I've decided to focus on just effing finishing the thing. That in itself will be a victory. The rest I'll worry about when I finally type the last word.

Know that I'm out here rooting for you. I'd be much obliged if you'll do the same for me! We'll finish and then we'll pop the corks, virtual and real, in celebration! xo Gigi

Plain Jane said...

Just so you know, I am now anxiously awaiting your book to be published. I am sure Chapter 19 will be the best part. Words of wisdom from someone who struggles to finish anything...skip the hard part. Come back to it later and work on the ending, or maybe the title, or just keep eating chocolate. That works too.

Ev said...

The finishing (like in childbirth)is the hardest part! You go girl, let it out and we're all cheering you on!

Anonymous said...

What a neat post! I popped over from Plain Jane :o) Best of luck with your chapter 19!!

Jayne said...

Hello Talli. Yes, that is exactly how I feel at the moment! I'll get there... I think. Thanks for the good luck wishes!


Hi Karen. Do they all like puppies? Phew. PHEW! And thanks for the wise words, and vote of confidence! Chocolate does help... couldn't possibly write without it I don't think! *digs out old subscription to gym*


Hi Donna. Thanks for the good luck wishes! I think I just need to get over chapter 19, and then I will be ok. (she says).


Hi KarenG. That is a nice thought to hold onto - that we are all special for finishing a book. Thank you for the good vibes and wishes, and for saying you like my blog! Yeay! It's so very nice to know you do. :)

Jayne said...

Hi Fran. The thinking cripples me, I have to say. Free writing... ooo. So just writing what I think, how I like... no redrafting, no editing (dreams of utopia). I'd end up with...


... and even then be doubtful!


Hi Sarah. I love that saying.I think I need to print and pin it somewhere so I can read it every day. Thank you for sharing it, and the good luck wishes. Onwards and upwards!


Hi Eliza. No need for pearls of wisdom, just commenting is lovely and makes me feel worlds better. I think it is tricky having any other commitments but people manage it, so I will have to learn a balance and muddle through somehow! I am absolutely crap at the balance thing... one day, one day... :)


Hi Linda. I guess the finishing line still feels so far away but oh the joy I will feel! You are right, it will feel amazing. I can almost picture it now. :)

Yes, I really should send those 3 chapters. They are ready to go, I guess I am just sitting on my hands. Darn fear! Thank you for saying I am brave enough, it's nice to hear you think so and gives me encouragement to sort of (almost! nearly!) believe it.

Jayne said...

Hi Gigi. So nice to see you over here, and what a lovely comment, it really did warm my heart. It sounds like we are in the same boat - you got the oars? I'll work the motor. :)

Sheer terror - oh yes. I have actually written the whole thing but am knee-deep in revising and wondering why I wrote such rubbish the first time around. It's all coming together but oh-so-slowly.

I am definitely out here rooting for you - feel the good vibes from London winging your way. Go you! You can do it! The champagne is on ice... x

Jayne said...

Hi Jane. Oh you are so lovely, thank you. I wish I could skip the hard part, but it's like an enormous mountain in my path, and I am armed with a little shovel with which to move it. Although actually going back and working on an older chapter today has cleared the way a little, so your wise words work!


Hi Ev. Yeay - thanks for cheering! Definitely helps. :)


Hi Niki and welcome! Thank you for popping over and the good luck wishes. I'm ignoring chapter 19 at the moment, and hoping to sneak up on it when its not looking. :)