Saturday, November 10, 2012

sorry, Ma, that there well done gone run dry

photo by f_shields on creative commons licence for flickr

At the end of September, I finished a book a month early. I sent it to my agent, who sent it to my editor. I took two days to go house-hunting and do laundry. I then immediately launched into writing another book, a 30,000-word novella, which I wrote in three weeks. I revised and submitted that to my other editor. We also sold our house, made an offer on another, found a solicitor and a mortgage advisor, consulted our accountant and the taxman and booked surveys and checked insurance. By this time, my editor had come back with revisions for my big book. We agreed a deadline of two weeks would be about right.

I went on retreat with some wonderful writers, to talk writing. I came up with an idea for my next book. I went to lunch with other writers, to talk writing. I went to dinner with other writers, to talk writing. I came up with an idea for another book. I went to a book launch with other writers, to talk writing.

On Thursday I sat down to write a new scene for my book that I'm revising. It's not a long scene, but it's an important one: a flashback to a time in my characters' lives when the foundations were set for their current conflict. I wrote the scene in a couple of hours.

The insightful Emma Darwin mentioned at one of those talking-writing events how sometimes writers who have written a lot can come up with something that is technically competent, but not at all exciting. It was that. It ticked the boxes, but it was lifeless. I can't possibly put it in a book that I care about, not as a key scene.

As usual, I've been beating myself up about this. Have I lost the joy of this story? Do I not have enough imagination? Does the story just not carry the depth I want it to?

But it has occurred to me that it's none of these things. I can't write a good, fleshed-out, emotional, complex scene because I am just too tired. Not physically, but mentally. I've done too much creating and talking and thinking and writing in the past two months. And I've also bought and sold a house.

My well is dry.

Yesterday, I spent the whole day reading a book. Today and tomorrow, I intend to spend playing with my kid and watching films with my husband. Monday...well, Monday I'm not so sure. Maybe the well will be full enough by then to come up with something worthwhile. Maybe not. Maybe I'll have to move my deadline forward a week or two, but that will be okay.

I have enough experience now to know that that there well will full right up again, Ma. And what a wondrous and exciting thing to know that it will. Just give it some time.

Look out for Anna's post, coming soon. My grammatically-problematic title is in homage to Susanna's post on copy-edits, below.


  1. Sounds like you definitely deserve a break, Julie - hope you've had a really relaxing weekend! I felt breathless just reading about everything you've been doing :)