Novel-Writing Meltdown

So the good news is that I am still, on average, on track with my novel. I haven’t written every day, but I have written most days.

twisted rootsThe not-so-good news but good-that-it’s-over news: I had a meltdown of sorts, a fit of doubt and despair about the novel. None of this makes sense to me logically because I already know that there is no reason to have any confidence in the future of my novel. I just want to write it and I will write it, so there. Very logical, right?

Here’s what happened. I was on a roll with the novel, making progress every day, getting ideas in between writing sessions, and all the stuff that usually makes me feel good about writing a novel. Then a radical idea struck: What if I split it into three books? Even as I thought of the idea, I reflected that it was a creative but unrealistic idea, but sure, let me entertain it to see what new insights I might generate.

For a day, I was energized by the thought of creating three novels, different protagonists, different genres, same historical and imagined context. I jotted down notes. I became aware of elements that might deserve more attention, whether it stayed one novel or evolved into three. I daydreamed about the possibility of publishing three books.

Then for the next few days, the pendulum swung in the other direction, and I was filled with despair that I would never finish three novels, that I would never stop working on this project. I suppose logically I can accept that writing the novel doesn’t bring any guarantees of next steps, but emotionally, the thought of never finishing just wasn’t okay with me.

It was a roller coaster ride, a real tangle of emotions resistant to my attempt to reason it out.

Eventually, I just told myself, you don’t have to do it. It was just an idea. It’s okay. I felt bad that I wasn’t writer enough for the job, creative enough to follow through on a radical approach. But it made me so stressed that I was glad to return to work on the novel as originally planned.

Relieved, I let myself scan through one of the sections that I thought could stand by itself. No, I thought, the sections work better together. So it’s not just that I am not as talented a writer as I wish to be. It really is better as it is.

Of course, it turns out that as much as I love this novel, I really want to finish it. Someday.

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