Today was the day. April 1st 2009, a day of pranks and protests, sun and sedition. I have been insulated from it all, at my familiar desk in my comfortable office, the sunshine visible through the window, the protests visible through my computer screen. But have I been working on the novel? Well, what do YOU think?
It's terrifying. I haven't touched it for a year. In that time I had a grant from my very supportive local arts officer (who I found out last week has just been made redundant, BOO to the council for that) to pay for a professional critique that was very helpful. The grant application process and then getting the critique done took six months - April to September 2008. By September I was poorly, then in November I had an operation, then I was recovering, and by 2009 I was manically busy reviving my bank balance which had dwindled alarmingly while I was off sick (one of the downsides of self-employment). And all through that time, I was telling myself how great it would be when it was April and I could get to the next draft of my novel.
So what did I do this morning? Emailed a few people... read a chapter of a friend's draft PhD thesis... wrote part of an application for some paid work... all stuff that needed doing, but by lunchtime I realised I was making excuses. So I dashed off an email to a writer friend wailing 'What if it's crap? What if crap is the best I can do? I've got to make major changes and I know what I need to do but I don't know hoooooooooooow...'
My writer friend is ace. Here's part of what she said:
You know you want to do this. You know doing it will make you feel better. You know all writers have crises of confidence, blocks and periods of procrastination... even the best. You know that your inner critic should be kept in a box until she's needed, and just now she's really not needed. Wait til the work is done, then let her out. She's a nasty bugger anyway. ;-) Of course you can write. But it's not a can/can't thing. It's something that can forever be worked at.She is so right, bless her. My spine and my resolve are stiffened. I'm going to start work.