I've just returned from a very relaxing holiday in North Norfolk, but I appear to have lost the motivation and positive attitude towards my writing I had before I went away. Any ideas on how to get them back will be appreciated!
While I was away, I read the latest Persephone Bi-Annually (No 8 Autumn/Winter 2010). Persephone (www.persephonebooks.co.uk) reprints neglected classics by twentieth century writers (mainly women), and I love them. This edition of the Bi-Annually featured extracts from the journals and notebooks of Dorothy Whipple.
In 1933 she wrote of her novel, They Knew Mr Knight: 'I have only to start writing a novel to become flat and stale. A short story invigorates me, a novel depresses me during all the weary months I'm writing it.' And another entry in the same year: 'I began the second draft of my book. The first is very scrappy. I don't see my way with the book yet...I don't like having to concoct plots, I like doing people.'
Same here, I thought. I like inventing characters and writing about them. Plots are a boring necessity. Something has to happen. People are so much more interesting!
Writing about They Were Sisters in 1942, Dorothy says: 'I am terrified of the badness of this book. I am off my natural bent. Sadness, ugliness throughout is not my line. I wish I didn't start on themes without proper thoughts.... But I worked well and fast. It seems as if I have to ponder on a situation for several days, seeing no daylight, then suddenly it comes clear and I can write again.'
Yes, I can identify with this too, except that I 'ponder on a situation' for several weeks! When my head is clear and I can see where I'm going with my novel, then I write very fast. Trouble is, I can rarely see clearly where it's going. I guess as writers, we have to go up several blind allies before finding our way. Ever the perfectionist, I feel I have to get it right first time and berate myself when a scene doesn't work.
However, I keep telling myself that words written are never wasted in that we learn from every sentence we write.