My title borrows from a canto of Byron’s Childe Harold poem.
My task is done — my song hath ceased — my theme
Has died into an echo; it is fit
The spell should break of this protracted dream.
The torch shall be extinguished which hath lit
My midnight lamp — and what is writ, is writ —
Would it were worthier!
On Friday night, I finished “Field of Clouds” after a marathon 9000-words-in-9-hours writing effort (and if you were part of my FB cheersquad, I thank you very much!). I haven’t blogged until now because I simply haven’t had any words left in me. But now I’m here in the post-book vacuum, reflecting on the immediate aftermath of the book. I feel:
I can’t yet enjoy all the things I said I’d enjoy when I was done: reading–meh, gaming–meh, drinking a bottle of Veuve Clicquot–well, okay, that was fun but only while the bubbles were still popping.
BUT, the book is finished and that is a relief. Even if I doubt it now (and I don’t always… sometimes I think it might be quite good) I’ve got a complete story to work on: to massage and to coax into shape. And the promise of something new is always a good way to console oneself. Goodbye number 21, hello number 22.
I have 20 000 words left to write (hit 100K yesterday morning at 6.25am), and I am damn well going to finish the book this week even if it kills me. And it might. I have a virus and have lost my voice (this is irritating, as I can’t rouse at my children and they are incredibly naughty most of the time) and I have a big pile of marking to do at work.
Some people compare writing a novel to giving birth. I usually roll my eyes when this happens, especially when men say it, because unless you’re squeezing a hardcover out your left nostril the comparison is flawed. But this close to the end of the process, there is the same kind of awful momentum, the same irresistible compulsion to get something outside yourself that has been growing within for a long time. I have lost the world; there is only the story. My family talk to me and all I hear is “bwah bwah bwah” like the adults in Charlie Brown cartoons. My brain is finding the ends of threads and pulling them together, tying them, untying them, retying them different ways. I shouldn’t be allowed to drive.
I’m in a scary place for other reasons, too. Five years ago, after I wrote Rosa and the Veil of Gold, I took a sabbatical from writing adult fantasy because I felt I’d said all I had to say in that genre. So I’ve been busy doing young adult books, and children’s books, and Kimberley Freeman books. But now I’m being called. No other way to describe it. I’m not a mystical new-agey pan-flutey person in any way at all. But I am being called, and I’ve got a story waiting just at the edge of my consciousness. I can feel it, but I’m terrified to write it. What if I can’t anymore? What if it’s not a grand idea and just a piece of silly nonsense with shouty characters? What if none of it matters to anyone ever in the history of anything?
I guess I’ll just write it anyway.
First of all, WTF has happened to my blog roll? It’s disappeared. Seems to be some kind of WordPress issue… please don’t be offended if your link is missing. I am working to restore normal transmission.
My husband pushed me out the door with my laptop on Saturday, and sent me to a hotel in the city to write. There is something amazingly motivating about paying that much money for a night’s accommodation: to make it worth my while, I racked up nearly 9000 words, taking me to the 90 000 all together or roughly 3/4 of the book. I wanted to keep going today, but the book has changed gears just here, so I need to rest and regroup a day or two. I had hoped to join the QWC writers race Tuesday night this week, but don’t think I’ll be ready to go. (For those who are members of the QWC and have an AWM online subscription [worth it!], they run writing races every Tuesday night between 8 and 9: fabulously motivating). But the story is nearly d0ne; I can feel the pull of the end.
Then, this morning, I heard the wonderful news that I’d won the William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review at the Ditmar Award ceremony last night. Woohoo.
So all in all, a most satisfying weekend. Now, where’s my champagne?