All this, and the black marks on the page
Sorry, Raymond Chandler, I'll be back in a bit

Sharing despair with Neil Gaiman

Answering a cris de cœur - in a forum of mainly published writers - of 'I hate Book Two!', someone posted this, which came originally from Neil Gaiman. I hope he won't mind me borrowing it: as you can imagine from this piece, (which I gather was originally written for NaNoWriMo) he has one of the best writing blogs on the net, which is well worth dropping by.

--------------------------------------

The last novel I wrote (it was ANANSI BOYS, in case you were wondering) when I got three-quarters of the way through I called my agent. I told her how stupid I felt writing something no-one would ever want to read, how thin the characters were, how pointless the plot. I strongly suggested that I was ready to abandon this book and write something else instead, or perhaps I could abandon the book and take up a new life as a landscape gardener, bank-robber, short-order cook or marine biologist. And instead of sympathising or agreeing with me, or blasting me forward with a wave of enthusiasm---or even arguing with me---she simply said, suspiciously cheerfully, "Oh, you're at that part of the book, are you?"

I was shocked. "You mean I've done this before?"

"You don't remember?"

"Not really."

"Oh yes," she said. "You do this every time you write a novel. But so do all my other clients."

I didn't even get to feel unique in my despair.

So I put down the phone and drove down to the coffee house in which I was writing the book, filled my pen and carried on writing.

----------------------------------------

About ten other writers on that forum piled in to agree, and we all agreed that it's not just second book syndrome, it's a seemingly inevitable part of the cycle of writing novels. Looking back, I remember when a certain book called Shadows in the Glass - otherwise known as The Mathematics of Love - was driving me to tears of exasperation. Did I really have to plod on, when I had this brilliant new idea of how I could, after all, write Anthony and Elizabeth Woodville? It's hard to remember that time now, and Book Two - otherwise known as A Secret Alchemy - had more than its share of 'I hate!' stages, and I'm remembering why I wanted to write it, and enjoying the way it's come out. And ever since that I hate stage I've been steadily more excited about Book Three - otherwise known as Book Three - and now I would cheerfully kill to get everything out of the way and all the preliminary research done so I could start it. But I must remember, I tell myself, that in a few months I'll be crying 'I hate Book Three!' because sparkling at me in the mists of my mind will be Book Four. I must remember...

But just in case, I think I'll just go and print out that Neil Gaiman story, and pin it up on the wall, directly above the monitor.

Comments