I’m in the middle–and I do mean middle, as I’m 90K into what I’m beginning to be depressingly certain will be a 165K book–of writing my sixteenth full-length novel.
These are my observations at this point:
– this is the worst thing I’ve ever written
– none of it hangs together
– there is no integral structure
– the end is so far away I will never be finished writing, but I am more than ready to be done
– my editor is going to burst into tears when I finally do turn this horrific lump in to her
– she is then going to have to find a way to break it to me gently that perhaps I should consider a career in shoveling elephant dung, because my writing life is over and cleaning up behind elephants is sure to be a less smelly job than what I’ve just delivered to her
The bitter thing is that I recognize this stage. This happens every time. It means that things are probably going along just fine, even though my inclination is to say, “No, no, I know I’ve said this before, but this time I think I’m right. This really is terrible.”
Recognizing this does not make me feel any better at all.
Almost every writer I know goes through this. This is the one where they’re going to figure out I’m a fraud. This is the point at which I wonder why I do this, because this really really sucks. The joy is gone. The focus is gone. All that’s left is a vast wasteland and a pathetic hope that if I keep throwing drivel at the screen something vaguely readable will come out of it. So on and so forth, etc, etc, etc.
I mention it because it often comes as an enormous relief to writers who are trying to break in: oh, they say, it’s not just me?
It’s not just you. It really isn’t. It’s almost all of us. And the only damned way to get through it is to keep writing, and eventually reach the end, and look back and hopefully say, “…well, okay, maybe it’s not *that* bad after all…”
…which comes as a surprise every time.