Everything had seemed to be flowing along quite happily with my current novel when, three weeks ago, I started writing Chapter Nine.
At the beginning, I thought that it was still going well; I knew what needed to happen and how my characters might react. It was almost there – it just wasn’t quite right . . .
As the days wore (slowly) on, I began to spend more time rearranging and deleting than writing anything new. By the second week, I wasn’t simply questioning my characters and each of their stories, and the novel as a whole - I was wondering how I ever imagined that I could write in the first place. I could hardly read my own shopping lists and even my strongest coffee didn’t help.
Everything around me had solidified into a kind of muddy sludge.
This insecurity was accompanied by a sense of deja vu, as I realised that I’d become swamped at exactly the same first-draft chapter-nine point with both my previous novels. Unfortunately this knowledge didn’t help.
But I kept writing. And deleting. And rewriting. And somehow (I don’t really know how) emerged, gasping, on the other side.
Now half term has happened and I’ve spent the past few days dealing with play dough and missing gloves and pumpkin mush and hardly writing anything at all. I still can’t read my shopping lists - but I can’t wait to return to my novel.
Perhaps I need my chapter nines. They force me to step back and take a fresh look at my current story, and at my writing and motivation more generally. Or perhaps I need them simply to remind myself that I still love it.
Or perhaps I’m just insane.