Writing a novel is a marathon of a task. As John le Carre says “every novel is an impossible mountain.”

What seemed like a fabulous idea at the time it arrived and the feverish outline was plotted, pales significantly around the middle. It’s then you have to grit your teeth and just keep on writing, a little every day, ploughing your way towards the finish line for as long as it takes.

My favourite African writer Chinua Achebe (check out his wonderful book Things Fall Apart) puts it like this. “For me there are three reasons for becoming a writer. The first is that you have an overwhelming urge to tell a story. The second, that you have intimations of a unique story waiting to come out. And the third, which you learn in the process of becoming, is that you consider the whole project worth the considerable trouble – I have sometimes called it terms of imprisonment – you will have to endure to bring it to fruition.”

That’s where faith in the project and faith in yourself as a writer come in very handy. It helps to have a cheering squad of supporters too, driving along behind you with water and supplies in the form of praise and encouragement. But most of all you’ve got to keep cheering yourself on, something I’m sure every long distance runner knows. We writers too must “break through the pain barrier” and keep on striding forward even when the finishing line is out of sight and the excitement of the start has long been forgotten.

In the words of Ernest Hemingway, or good old Uncle Ernie as I like to call him,

“There is only one thing to do with a novel and that is to go straight on through to the end of the damn thing.”

And so I’ll keep on putting one foot in front of the other. Thanks Ernie.

4 thoughts on “STUCK IN THE MIDDLE

  1. Chinua Achebe GOLD! That quote is wonderful and I am going to put it straight on the wall. Just what I need to hear today and what I am struggling with right now.
    Loneliness of the long distance runner – but it’s a bloody rewarding and wonderful journey too. Aloha!

  2. I love Chinua Achebe. I read him back in the early 80s and was blown away. I wonder if he is still alive. How is you new idea panning out Fave?
    I’ve only got a day at home, and then I’m off again, to the beach this time. Enjoying the break form yoga teaching and writing. Reading MJ Hyland This IS How. Very, very clever.
    Love you,

    • Hello !
      I will try and find out if Chinua is still alive (hope so).
      Missing Africa but trying to keep writing that stuff as short pieces.
      Went on a wonderful trip to central vic – stayed in miners cottage – went and found graves of family I did not know I had -( turns out my nan’s mum’s parents were cornish miners). So following that vein of gold to see if a story comes to life. Lots of sadness in those places… but beauty too.
      Enjoy the beach my friend and get some waves from me.

      Love f

      (ps – want to read THIS IS HOW – on my list!)

  3. Hi Fave,
    Keep writing those Afircan stories, it sounds like where your heart really is. Hachette can wait! BUt it does sound like the cnetral vic trip may be leading you in a good direction. Lots of juice there to mine. GOod luck my little kingfisher firend.

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