Monday 17 June 2019

Struggling to navigate the halfway point - Tracy Darnton

DISCLAIMER *Any publisher or editor who [has signed/is contemplating] a publishing contract with me should completely ignore all of the following.

I’m at the halfway point.

Wading through treacle.
Imposter syndrome.
The “why did I make this book so complex?” stage.
The “why don’t I write really short books with basic plots?” stage.
The “please, will someone else write my book for me?” stage.

Shall I watch ‘The Wife’ film again?

*Spoiler Alert* I want Glenn Close to write all my books and win the Nobel Prize for Literature for me. I could go to Stockholm again and eat cinnamon rolls.

I interrupt my son’s revision to ask him what cinnamon rolls are called in Swedish. Kanelbullar. That's a nice word. Kanelbullar.

Full-on procrastination cleaning out the fridge, hoovering the cutlery drawer, watching ‘The Thick of It’ on iPlayer, dusting my desk and sharpening pencils.
I am so good at procrastinating.
I am good at something! Yay me.

I take it up a gear.
I count the days before book delivery date and do a pie chart to show how many are possible writing days. I calculate the average word count I need to meet my contractual target. I adjust my figures to allow for sickness, family obligations, a holiday… I wonder if I should have used my A’ levels in Maths and Further Maths in a more constructive way.
I like graphs. I'd forgotten how much I like charts and graphs.

Shall I forget writing and become a statistician? Yes, my life will be so much easier. Won’t it?

I complete a memory research request on voice-recognition. I am delighted that my short-term memory is excellent at discerning chiming bells and voices.  But I worry that I performed badly on today’s long-term test on voices I heard ten days ago. Old voice? New voice?

I interrupt my son’s revision to ask him if I have performed any better than a random monkey randomly answering the fifty-fifty old or new voice questions. He explains probability to me and makes me doubt my aforementioned A' levels in Maths and Further Maths.

I cannot become a statistician after all. I have to carry on being an author.
Also, bad news, I am not as proficient as a random monkey tapping at the keyboard.

I write lists of questions in my notebook to make me feel better about plot holes in my novel.
I give the questions a heading: The Unsurmountables. I like the heading. I picture an action movie with Sean Connery and The Rock.

I check if ‘unsurmountable’ is a word and the difference between ‘insurmountable’. The WikiDiff entry makes no sense whatsoever. I should rewrite it.

I worry about my cast list. Too old? How old is Sean Connery?

1930! Sean Connery was born in 1930. He is too old for my action movie. I shall recast.

I laugh at a tweet with a funny picture from author Marie Basting about two and a half hours writing and her word count has gone up by seven words. Her tweet is longer than her WIP output for the day. I have a brief warm glow that there’s a whole community of #amwriting people out there feeling like this. 

Or is just me? That’s the self-doubt again. I check my word count so far for the day. Marie has beaten me.

I interrupt my son’s revision so he can thrash me at table tennis. I feel slightly better.

I buck up, eat a biscuit, and tell myself that it will pass. 

I pick up my notebook and turn to The Unsurmountables. Jodie Comer. I shall cast her. Boom! I am current and hip. I add more insurmountable questions to the list.

I look at The Truth About Lies on the shelf and wonder how on earth I wrote it and ponder the nature of selective memory that has removed the bad times to make sure it is not my only novel.
Logic tells me this stage will pass again and become a distant, buried memory.

I write this blog.

I sneak up on my novel late at night when it’s not expecting me to put in an appearance. I start typing. I put one sentence after another and watch the word count slowly, slowly grow.

Tracy Darnton is the author of The Truth About Lies, shortlisted for The Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2019. She has an MA in Writing for Young People.


Nick Garlick said...

Well, apart from playing table tennis and having a son to question, this pretty much describes my current situation. The question uppermost in my mind most mornings is 'How the hell did this simple little plot get so complicated?'

Susan Price said...

Sneaking up on the book and taking it by surprise is a good tactic. So is taking it out for a drink in a cafe or pub - or even away for a few days on a city break (though this may be the 'taking by surprise' tactic in disguise.)
I have no idea why it seems easier to write away from home but it always does. Anybody understand it?

Unknown said...

Less distractions I should wager

Also taking your story for a nice long walk is a good tactic - it will be puffed out and need a pint

Joan Lennon said...

I've been able to use reading your post for just the same purpose - thanks for that! (Now, shouldn't we both get back to, you know, work ...?)