I was talking to my friend Roma the other day, and she asked, “How’s the writing going?”
Writing? What writing?
I’ve been working on a new novel since January or so. By the beginning of June, I was about a third of the way through a first draft. I had been sending bits of it to my critique partner every other week, and she had been cheering me on, saying how much she was enjoying it, asking useful questions and pushing me to do my best writing. Then life interfered with my schedule. What with the trip to France and Sophie’s wedding and David’s parents’ visit, I spent at least a month away from my book.
Life got back to normal about a week ago. But after that long hiatus, I was a little nervous about getting back to my book. What if it sucked? And what was I supposed to be writing about, anyway?
David suggested that rather than trying to dive right back in, I take a day or two to read what I’d written. Sensible advice. How could I move forward unless I knew where I was?
But there’s reading, and there’s reading.
I read Chapter One quite happily. Man, this is good, I told myself. Did I really write that? Chapter Two was sort of a let down, though. And so was Chapters Three. Chapter Four wasn’t so great, either. And neither was Chapter Five. I was about ready to toss out the whole thing when I got to Chapter Six. I remembered really liking that one at the time. And re-reading it all that time later, I still did. And Chapter Seven, thankfully, also didn’t make me want to give it all up.
So maybe I didn’t really suck so much, after all. But the thought of tackling Chapter Eight was still pretty daunting. For a few days, I deleted more than I wrote. That’s when Roma called.
“I was in a situation like that once, and my good friend Ruth once gave me some really good advice,” she said.
“Oh yeah? What was that?” I knew what she was going to say, but I needed to hear it.
“Turn off the critic,” she reminded me. “Just put in the time and let yourself write without worrying about whether it’s any good or not. Eventually it will be.”
(Here’s a taste of one of the chapters that didn’t make me want to give it all up.)