I’m feeling like this right now.
I started a novel late last year – let’s call it Breakthrough – and wrote three chapters for an assignment. My peers, who critiqued the work, were mostly complimentary. My tutor gave me a High Distinction and said it was spectacular work. I was very excited.
I did not make the mistake of telling people. If friends asked me what I was working on I said I didn’t like to discuss it. The furthest I went was to write on my blog that “I was dabbling in the Gothic genre”.
Then Christmas came and I became a little distracted. I didn’t write every day. Sometimes I didn’t write for several days.
I went overseas in January / February and I didn’t write at all. When I say I didn’t write of course I wrote blogs and emails, but I didn’t work on my manuscript.
Now I’ve been back for over two months, and I’m still not writing. I may have written 2,000 words all told and they were hard and difficult words. I’ve written other things, a short story for instance, so I can still write. I just can’t write that story.
I’ve tried various things to get around this. I’ve sat down with my protagonist, her name is Hannah - it'a a palindrome (!) - and talked to her. I’ve approached the story from Part II. Then from the end. I’ve got up early in the morning and written the first things that came into my head – a writers’ block exercise.
In an effort to frighten myself I got out the manuscript I interrupted to write Breakthrough – let’s call it Meander – and looked at it. Told from multiple viewpoints it’s a very different story. I believe it has promise because I didn’t say when I was reading it, Arghhh, this is rubbish, although of course there were plenty of places where that applied. But Meander doesn’t have what Breakthrough has. Meander will only ever be an interesting, heart-warming story about relationships, whereas Breakthrough has the potential to be so much more.
After countless writing years and two completed novels and a degree in creative writing and two writing prizes, I shouldn’t need help. I should be able to do this on my own.
Why can’t I?