Monday 24 October 2011

The Excrutiating End

At the moment of writing this post I am at the last stages of my first novel (by the time I post this I will, hopefully, have finished). I have about 6 000 words left to write before I'll have reached my goal of 75,000 words. If I reach my goal I will have finished my first full-length novel! (I don't really count my 50,000 word novel from NaNo '09 as full-length, though I'm not entirely sure what to categorise it as...) This is a novel I've been writing on and off for about five years I believe (I can't even remember anymore). Finishing it will be one of the most amazing feelings ever - yet these last 6 000 words are proving to be the most painful ever. Why?
For one, I am incredibly fed up with my story. I'm sure every writer has felt that way. I don't want to think about it, I don't want to write about it, I don't want it to exist at all. I just need to finish it so I can put it away for a few months and work on editing my NaNo '09 novel instead. I will finish it in two days. 3 000 words a day isn't much. I can do it, can't I? Yes. The question is what the quality will be. I'm writing in English and the more I write the more I feel how repetitive my vocabulary is - there are only so many ways you can say that something happened suddenly, unexpectedly, abruptly, out of the blue... Solution: have fewer surprises. Or not. It even seems to be getting worse, as though for every 1 000 words I write, I lose 10 synonyms. How can I possibly finish a novel that way?

I seem to be losing track of the subject on hand here: how to finish a novel. I'm afraid that there is no magic answer. The only thing to do is to write, however horrible your writing feels, however much it hurts (yes, writing can physically hurt) and however much you just want to go outside and enjoy the sun instead. Just accept that you will look pale and worn, at least you will have a novel!

I don't have much left to write. I'm practically finished. I've passed the dreaded two-thirds mark where many writers give up. But I've been there. In fact, I stayed there for almost a year. I spent about three years at the one-third mark as well. The trick for me was to write in bursts (of inspiration, if you wish). I had spent a long time threading water at 1/3 so I set a goal of 25 000 words, wrote for a week, and left the one-third mark far behind me.

Then I hit another snag: 2/3. This time it was a friend who made me realise that if I want to be a writer then I should do just that: write. It doesn't matter that you have a half-finished novel if you never manage to finish it. I can't tell you how proud I was of those 2/3rds. But they don't matter if they never become a finished novel. So I sat down a couple of months ago and wrote, but had to take a break when my course load became too heavy. With 8 000 words left, no less! So today I sat down, wrote 2 000 words in a couple of hours, and before the weekend I will have it finished. By the time I publish this post I will have finished a complete novel. Now that is motivating!

Edit (a few months later): I finished the novel shortly after writing this post, then didn't look at it for months until recently when I started editing it. There is so much to cut out and rewrite I'm quite scared! So there is more to come, stay tuned.

Edit (a year or so later): I chickened out of the editing, and the novel is still a first draft, only now it has some writing in a red pen on the front. Who would have thought that editing would be harder than finishing!? 

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