So, this is the way it goes. I start a book, brimming with confidence. I have written 50+ books before, and therefore I know what needs to be done, right? I only need six weeks.
I rattle off a rough draft, not worrying that it’s rubbish, because that’s all part of the process. Then – vital stage – I write myself out a timetable, and I’m kind to myself. A bit too kind, perhaps. The very first day, I only told myself to write a single page (and it was a struggle, too!). Now I’m ahead of schedule.
But what’s the point of being ahead of schedule when the story isn’t working, the characters are leaden and every word is an effort? I’m going to have to go back to the beginning and start all over again. Am not sure if it’s a good sign or a bad sign that I am still on Chapter 2, and usually make myself labour on until Chapter 7 before hitting crisis point.
Anyway, this too is part of the process, so why am I panicking? I’m not panicking (much). I just so hate this part when the characters refuse to come to life and I can’t imagine ever getting any momentum going. I know it will happen (please God, let it happen soon!) but until that wonderful click when it all falls into place, I’m just plodding away and feeling desperate, which is not quite the same as panicking, but nearly as bad.
Part of the problem may be the nagging feeling I have that Frith wants to write her own story. I’m resisting this because (a) readers traditionally don’t like romances written in the first person, and (b) I’m the author, which means I ought to be in charge. How many books has Frith written, after all? Once we let these characters off the leash, who knows where it will all end? It’s all reminding me uneasily of my on-going battle of wills with Douglas, a very pretty but very stubborn tabby, who is refusing to use the new cat flap I had installed at great expense. Clearly, it’s time for me to wrest control back and for cats and characters to learn their place.
And control is badly needed, as I have agreed a deadline at last with my editor and there can be no more messing around. (Are you listening, Frith?) My Chief Plotting Advisor is coming to stay this weekend, and she’ll have no truck with recalcitrant characters. I’m banking on Frith, Douglas and I all being smacked into shape by Monday, at which point I can get back to normal procedure, i.e. writing the entire book in a rush of adrenaline just before the deadline.
Ironically, this blog has been nominated for a top writing blog award – see button top right of the page and feel free to vote! – allegedly because of useful advice about writing. So if anyone’s reading this in the hope of picking up tips, here’s my absolute top one: do as I say, not as I do.