This month is National Novel Writing Month or NANOWRIMO. I am not working on a new novel but trying to finish an old one and it is proving to be more difficult than I imagined. As I get toward the finish line I feel more and more tired. I also have bouts of avoiding opening the document containing my latest chapter, sort of like a kid who is forced to eat something he doesn’t like and does everything they can to get out of it. Blogging is an outlet of writing so I can feel accomplished. I can feel like I have written something, and takes care of the “itch” as C.S. Lewis would say. But, that’s not my goal. Blogging is nice, but the book is my mission.
I have planned many times to lay down words, but when the time comes I write a paragraph then delete it. I write another and delete it. The inner critic gets the best of me. I have had a plan to write on my novel many times. I have even felt inspired and wrote a quick 500 words. However, I know they are poor attempts of regurgitating the golden ideas as perceived by my mind. I thought for a while of why the sudden rush of avoidance? Why the shouting of the critic of my mind – when I thought I had put him to bed?
I now know why. I had some friends come visit who I see about once a year. It was a pleasure seeing them, but at the end of out time together we spent the last spare minutes either telling a quick joke or sharing a brief story, doing anything to extend the time and to not bring up the fact that our time together is now at its end.
This is the reason I am not rushing to finish. No one likes to say goodbye. No one likes to end a good time, and not just a fun time, but something so satisfying it is a glimpse of life or the world as it should be. Thus, I confess today that I don’t want to say goodbye to my friends. I don’t want to have invented them only to dismiss them. I have more novels planned with some of them, but others are gone dismissed into the “shadowy world of my mind”.
Here is Charles Dickens putting my thoughts into better words. This is a snippet of the preface of David Copperfield (Penguin). I think I now know what he was talking about. It will be grand to finish, but I will miss the people in my book, once their/our adventure is over.
I do not find it easy to get sufficiently far away from this Book, in the first sensations of having finished it, to refer to it with the composure which this formal heading would seem to require. My interest in it, is so recent and strong; and my mind is so divided between pleasure and regret – pleasure in the achievement of a long design, regret in the separation from my many companions…It would concern the reader little, perhaps, to know, how sorrowfully the pen is laid down at the close of two-years’ imaginative task; or how an Author feels as if he were dismissing some portion of himself into the shadowy world, when a crowd of creatures of his brain are going from him for ever.