Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Novel fatigue and why I love Neil Gaiman

How far are you through the first draft of your novel?

10%?

30%?

50%?

According to YWriter I'm 0.09% away from hitting 75% of the way through novel 2 (assuming the final draft will be 90,000 words and won't mysteriously grow to 100,000 words like novel 1 did!) and I've been browsing other writers' websites, gawping at the number of novels they've written (check out Carole Matthew's astonishing list of published books for example!), assuming it came easy to them and feeling like I'm the only author in the world to struggle with her second novel (I'm not).

Nothing I told myself (including, "Don't you realise how bloody lucky you are to be in this situation!") was making me feel any better.

Until someone posted this snippet from a Neil Gaiman blog post on one of my writing forums...

"The last novel I wrote (it was ANANSI BOYS, in case you were wondering) when I got three-quarters of the way through I called my agent. I told her how stupid I felt writing something no-one would ever want to read, how thin the characters were, how pointless the plot. I strongly suggested that I was ready to abandon this book and write something else instead, or perhaps I could abandon the book and take up a new life as a landscape gardener, bank-robber, short-order cook or marine biologist. And instead of sympathising or agreeing with me, or blasting me forward with a wave of enthusiasm---or even arguing with me---she simply said, suspiciously cheerfully, "Oh, you're at that part of the book, are you?"

I was shocked. "You mean I've done this before?"

"You don't remember?"

"Not really."

"Oh yes," she said. "You do this every time you write a novel. But so do all my other clients."

I didn't even get to feel unique in my despair.

So I put down the phone and drove down to the coffee house in which I was writing the book, filled my pen and carried on writing.
"

... and suddenly I felt a whole load more enthusiastic about novel 2!

So thanks Mr Gaiman. I'm going to buy one of your books now to show my appreciation!*

* I know - so shameful that I've never read one of his books before. Anyone got a recommendation for which book I should start with?

15 comments:

HelenMHunt said...

I'm at 77% and I'm mainly being held up by lack of time, and the knowledge that the first three chapters need to be scrapped and written again from scratch - so even when I've finished I won't actually have finished! Oh, and the fact that I think it's crap and won't ever see the light of day :)

Calistro said...

Helen - I need to rewrite several chapters too. You're not alone!

Calistro said...

p.s. Am sure it's not crap. Neil Gaiman thought his book was crap at 3/4 of the way through it was published!

Jessica said...

Read American Gods - Its brilliant!!
:)

Gem said...

Read Neverwhere, it's fantastic!

Is it bad that I'm at the novel fatigue stage and I'm only half way through?

Down the Rabbit Hole... said...

Read Stardust, Neverwhere, Anansi Boys and American Gods.

Regards :)

B said...

I hated American Gods but would recommend Neverwhere... although I've never finished it yet - but I loved the first half until my American friend took her copy back to America - how mean!!!

Coraline also fabtastic. I can't wait to see the film. Oh and Stardust!

And Good Omens - which he wrote with Terry Pratchett - is great!

Keep writing :)

Lucy Diamond said...

I'm at about 75% too and feel EXACTLY the same. Thank you so much for that quote!

JJ Beattie said...

I'm glad to hear it's normal and even happier to hear it helps!

liz fenwick said...

Hang in there. It's good to know you're not alone!
lx

Jumbly Girl said...

Love Neil Gaiman - would recommend Neverwhere and his collaboration with Terry Pratchett - Good Omens

I had a slump around 60-70% of the way through - I had to tell myself that after that much effort I might as well see it through otherwise it would always be nagging at me to be finished

L-Plate Author said...

Having recently gone through that feeling I know it only too well. I don't know about you, but(apart from all the niggly bits that I definitely know need changing) I can't change anything until I get to the end, just in case.

Not long to go now until you finish. Then comes the fun bit, trying to make sense of what you were trying to say...x

L-Plate Author said...

And thanks for the get well comment, still feeling the same. Need to go for a CT scan next! x

Ellie said...

I finished Anansi Boys this morning, and loved it, but I started with Stardust and have re-read it twice so far...

Gill Edwards said...

The ocean at the end of the lane, i finished it over the weekend and its awesome, i actually want to read it all over again and i never feel that way about a book
Gill x