After nearly three years it’s time to force a few writing muscles to flex, maybe even to beat a paragraph or two into submission. On this blog at least. In that time, I’ve written over three hundred thousand words, enough to do three and a half novels. It’s that half that lurks here. Forty-odd thousand in, and I can’t get it done. For the last four months, I’ve labored over every paragraph. Sporadic would be exaggerating my work habits. Occasional maybe. I’m going to try to summarise my thoughts on what’s going wrong.
(a) My muse has given up on me. She’s tired of waiting for me to put in the time in front of this keyboard to write. To create, not to play bridge, pay bills, tackle wordle or sudoku, scan the news sources or, worst, scroll though real estate ads and other peoples’ Facebook offerings, even when nine out of ten of them are of zero interest. She’s found another writer who is more committed, less distracted, less easily crushed by publisher’s disinterest, in sum, more serious about being a writer. She’s not coming back till I prove I’m worth it.
(b) I’m losing interest in my main protagonists. From babyhood in the first book to jaded middle age in this one, I’ve generally admired Mike Lander. Sure, early on it was more his mum, Helen, who drove most of the action, but as she has aged, and now died, so much life-force has disappeared. Cheryl Saunders, his wildly colorful long-time boss, is out of the action, at least for now, and Susan Waterson, the most senior ranked women in the police force, and his on-again, off-again lover, is barely present. So I, and my putative readers, are left with Mike stumbling along in what might be the tail-end of his career, doing just enough to qualify as serious about his work in the face of a few major hurdles. How do I generate anxiety that leads to resolution, in ways that leave me believing he is special and memorable? I’m wondering if I’m succumbing to his doubts about the usefulness of his activities as a defence lawyer. One white guy in a white system, trying to stem an unending tide of injustices against indigenous people by keeping a few of them out of jail. Somehow, I have to create the drivers that will sustain his passion for social justice; to face down his personal demons and do whatever he can to make a difference. And I have to believe in him and his chances.
(c) I’m having trouble putting aside the disappointment of publishers and agents showing almost no interest in my work. I’ve completed three books that my editors/manuscript assessors have been positive about. My trusted readers wax almost rapturous. I’m not sure if it’s just the realities of an older white guy putting his hand up at the wrong time; my lack of attention to building a profile on social media, or a perceived lack of originality about my work. Or, shudder, my quality of my writing in general. Most of the time I say to myself and others that I’m writing work that satisfies me; that it will be a bonus, no more, if others agree. But I’m not convincing myself yet.
That will do for today. I will look again at those paragraphs, maybe come up with more, and start to find ways through. I will find ways through