The Long Dark Tea Time of the (Writer’s) Soul
Anyone who recognized the reference to one of my favorite author’s works; gold star.
We’ve reached the home stretch of writing my fourth novel, THE WHITE DOE. I know everything that happens from here to the last page, can outline and plot it all if need be to rev my engines, but since hauling ass through the month of November (and as a result, winning only my second NaNoWriMo. Thank you, thank you. Please address all congratulatory fruit baskets to Queen of the Universe.) I haven’t written a single word in TWD. Not one. It’s as though I tapped myself out and found even the notion of returning to the work both daunting and downright exhausting. It was flying along before, I was cooking with proverbial gas, but something sputtered out and I walked away from the project, constantly berating myself for the slackage.
It happens with every book I write. Somewhere in the middle, or two thirds in – sometimes it holds out until RIGHT at the end when I’m a chapter away from done and suddenly even the act of looking at my laptop makes me seethe with a sense of Claustrophobia. It isn’t Writer’s Block (something I’m not sure I believe in). It’s something else, something I have called The Long Dark Tea Time since it happened while I was again hauling ass through CATCH MY FALL (my second novel). When it happened with the same fervor during a completely different project, I became wary. Was it a pattern?
Well, you need three plus occasions to form statistical analysis, as far as I know, so I brushed it and sat on my thumbs for almost a year, letting the project sit and collect dust. It wasn’t until I was a chapter away from done with A SONG FOR THE SEA when it kicked in with a thunderous fury and I sat back and said, “Well, fuck. This is a thing.”
And I’m not the only one. Almost every writer I’ve talked to expressed frustration with this strange anomaly. No matter how well a book may be going, even the most successful writers get hung up on the middle, sometimes.
Given that THE WHITE DOE is the sequel to THE OFFERING, I have a few readers who, I am grateful to say, harping on me to cut the shit. They saw the speed with which she was coming together, were looking forward to a first/rough draft to read by Christmas. Now, they’ve challenged me to get the bad boy done by the time I travel to Scotland (April 2nd, if you must know).
Can you do it, Caitlin? Uh, yeah. I wrote over 50,000 words in a single month, remember? Do you want to?
Sigh… yes. Yes, of course I do, but (insert whining tantrum here) why can’t it just finish itself? GAAAHAAAAHAAAAD!
So the challenge has been accepted, and in an attempt to rally the troops, I am planning a weekend away, tucked into some hotel room in the snowy tundra of New England like some new, female Stephen King, and we shall see if we can’t jump start the work that needs to be done.
Wish me luck.