Last week, I was riding high. Words were spilling on the page. Progress was being made. I was beginning to have "moments" in which I was lost in the fictional world, when I'd look up from my computer and be amazed that I was sitting in the corner of my shabby council flat lounge. My confidence soared. And then, last Friday, I read chapter 7 before going on so that I could pick up the next chapter in the right place. I was horrified to find it dull, lumpen, full of cliches and just bad bad bad. Numbly, I began a rewrite to iron out the most superficial problems. I was halfway by Sunday and had to leave it as planned for three days. And during those three days, a thousand tiny niggling little problems began to, well, niggle, until there I was last night, desperate for sleep but unable to find it, with my thundering heart and my screaming RLS, caffiene, chocolate and lack of exercise all exacting their punishment, the ghastly spectre of my writing haunting me.
I had so looked forward to writing this novel. It's been three years since I got the idea for the story, three years in which I went to great lengths to get ready to write it, knowing that I needed to start fresh with no other novels hanging over me - hence the push to get my older novels published, to get myself established, to feel settled in my day job etc etc. I wanted to escape into this novel. I wanted to feel the joy of writing again, writing something BIG.
Instead, it's turning into a nightmare. I seem to have forgotten how to string words together. I've dropped into a style of writing in this novel I don't like and can't shake. And worse, it's going to take ten chapters before the story gets interesting. That's ten chapters of godawful boringness in which I try to build a foundation for the story. Which leads me to think that the story isn't that good, after all. There isn't enough plot to keep me occupied. There isn't enough movement. There's no modern world so it has become that thing I hate most of all: really corny fantasy. The thing of beauty I wanted to create - after so many years of creating horror and insanity - is turning into a dirge of dullness.
It seems you can't make beauty interesting. Only madness and "gritty reality" is interesting.
So in this, I have failed. I have reached chapter seven and my novel is dust. As an exercise of torture, it doesn't get much worse in the world of a writer. Do I give up? Do I start again? Do I continue despite the foundation of the novel drowning in a sad swamp? What do I do? All I feel is pain and disappointment at myself while all around me people write exactly what other people want to read. How did I never manage to get that right?