I’m supposed to be writing my Young Adult (YA) novel, but it’s becoming a bit of a struggle, I must say. Mainly because I had to stop halfway through to write two more episodes of my new Dinosaur Rescue series. And if there’s one thing this writer hates more than anything, it’s trying to kickstart a stalled project. Especially a novel.
While you’re writing it, you almost lose yourself in the world you’ve created. There are so many threads of the story to keep hold of, it needs a lot of concentration and focus. My wife, Marion, often gets a bit annoyed at me when I’m in the middle of a novel because I’m often off in my own little world instead of listening to her. I know I should be listening, but my fictional world is often just as real as my real world. And the characters in my fictional world have much more serious things going on. Resolving their issues becomes very important to me, and so takes up a lot of my brain.
But if you have to STOP writing a novel for any length of time, everything starts falling to pieces. You lose your grip on all those story threads. You lose interest in your characters, too, because they’ve become mere characters again, not almost-real people. They’re no longer important people in your life, they’re just words on a page. And sometimes, you lose interest in your whole novel. When you read it again, you wonder why you ever started it. It’s a terrible thing.
Sometimes your loss of interest is simply because of all the above. Or because you suddenly realise you were never too sure where your story was going anyway. (Which is what happened to my last YA novel which I got halfway through about 3 years ago …) And sometimes it’s because you’ve got new, bigger, better ideas knocking on your imagination. Why finish the OLD story when there’s a more exciting NEW story crying out for attention? Oh, and there’s one more reason – because finishing it suddenly just seems TOO HARD.
I’m currently experiencing a bit of all four. I still think my YA is worth writing. I’m still excited about it, too. (Which is great!) But I have lost my connection with my characters and my world. I’ve also got a hundred exciting NEW ideas lining up in my brain. And I could so easily set off on exciting new projects. Projects which would be fun, and relatively easy. After all, I kind of know what I’m doing when I’m writing picture books. I have a feeling for when a story is “right” and its chances of being published. But writing a YA novel is a totally different kettle of fish.
But I WILL finish it. No mattter what. No matter how hard it is. Because unlike many things in life, it’s NOT the doing that’s important, it’s the finishing. Until you finish, you don’t have anything. Better a bad finished novel than a ”who knows how wonderful it might be” unfinished novel. Until you finish, you don’t know if it was a story worth writing. Until you finish, you can’t be sure all those threads are going to come together to make something greater than their sum.
Besides, finishing is a major part of the novelist’s craft. Like any other craft, it’s a matter of results. Like building a car from scratch. Until you turn the key and hear that engine rumbling, until you can hop in and take it for a spin, you can never be sure it’s not just a pile of junk. Only then can you claim to have built a car.
And no matter how bumpy or tentative that first drive may be, it will be the most exhilarating drives of your life. Guaranteed.
OK, enough procrastinating for today. It’s back to my wonderful, worthwhile, exciting (I believe it, I believe it!!) YA.