What does a writer do when, nearly 90,000 words into a novel, one discovers it is the wrong story?
What to do when, having viewed the world from the corner one has painted oneself into, a solution seems not to exist?
How, you may ask, can one not know one is writing the wrong story for so long?
Why, when I was finding it an increasing struggle to write, did I not abandon it earlier?
‘Bin it’, I hear many declaim. ‘Murder your darlings’ the mantra of the cyberspace-waves.
I tell those lucky folk who never make the mistake, when an author gets carried away with their character’s stories.It happens when a novel is written in pieces, at different times, during different circumstances.
It is never easy to admit one is wrong. Never easy to view hundreds of hours of work as wasted. Incredibly hard to visualising beginning again.
So as I sat in my corner, viewing the paint, I sent out a plea to my writing friends – what to do? In the writing of the plea my mind began to see what was wrong, what options there may be. Helping hands helped to step outside the painted corner so that I could view all the options more clearly. Thank you helping hands, you all know who you are:)
From that viewpoint I could see I had inadvertently written two books. They had meshed well at the beginning, but as each formed its own identity the whole began to sag, to bend and topple.
I stepped back and let it topple.I stared for days at the wreckage, mind darting bee-like hither and then of course thither. Stirred the ruin with my toe. Sighed.
I wasn’t prepared to ‘murder my darlings’. I wasn’t prepared to ‘bin it’. Was I prepared to redo hours of work. Yes. Of course.
So I painstakingly dismantled the wrecked whole.
Making neat piles for the new work,
Neat piles for recycling
(as post war generation, ‘waste not, want not’ was fed to me with my mother’s milk.)
Eventually I had rescued 40,000 words of story to work on, to start re-building, plus a series of future short stories.
Having spent the year until then writing then editing with the view to being finished in the summer, I found at the beginning of June I was having to begin again with structure, planning and research.
I am not a beginner, this was to be the fourth in the series and there are two collections of short stories as well. I took my eye off it all, and suffered the consequence. Excuses I have, I had been very ill for months, but come on I should have realised earlier!
The problem had been created by the hours of lying around when too ill to get out of bed, just day dreaming and writing the book in my head, allowing character’s to take over. It is frowned upon to allow this, however, it can be difficult not to. To write convincingly about a non existent person one does need to invest some time in getting to know them, in finding out their emotions and world view, how else to know how they would react? You must ‘know them’. They inhabit your mind in the same way, or maybe more intensely, as your friends and family. Maybe one has conversations with them as one drives around:) For a while they become ‘real’
They will try and take over, and one must be aware at all times and resist. I did not and so began the downfall of The Ancestor’s Tale.
The characters had created a new viewpoint and so The Children’s Tale was born from the ruins. Then to catch up a bit. I am too old to be able to afford losing so much time:) JuNoWrMo helped, I had a goal to reach before the end of the month, 50,000 words, thrown down, leave editing until later. Despite beginning a week late I managed. Many will have to go of course, but the new story has emerged.
It will work. I can feel it will. I am enjoying writing it more than the old one. There is no struggle.
It may well not be finished when I wanted, but it will be.