I'm sure that this happens to all writers, but no doubt like all writers, I think this is unique to me when it's happening. Because surely nobody can be as indecisive as I am. I'm talking about the "come 'ere, go away" phenomenon, and not in relation to relationships with men (although I've had a few of those). This time it's about works in progress, bits and pieces of writing, short stories, novels, you name it. I can get hugely excited about my brilliant new idea (the "Come 'ere" phase) and work on it for a long time - months even - and my confidence in it starts to erode gradually, perhaps triggered by a fact I've researched that no longer works, or a comment from someone near and dear when I've told them my idea (there's an obvious lesson there), or perhaps just by that niggly little voice inside telling me I'll never amount to anything. The "Go away" phase.
So I decide it's time to suck it up and throw it away. Start afresh. Put those months of work down to experience, and maybe I can come back to it in a few years and mine the idea for a tiny amount of gold dust that surely must be in there somewhere.
So I start something new. And it's fabulous. I'm in love, I'm brilliant, it will break new ground, it will keep me enthralled for the year it will take me to write (because part of the "Come 'ere" phase is mind-busting optimism and faith in one's work ethic).
And then this will happen: I am in a rush at home and I accidentally copy the wrong file onto the memory stick I am taking into the office. I have copied that old novel, the abandoned one. Let's open it up and take a look at it, I think. And there it sits on the screen, giving me flirtatious, come-hither looks. Come 'ere, it's saying. And I print it out and I read it, and it's good. What the hell was I thinking chucking this out?
At least I have two novels trying to entice me, which is a lot better than having none. So over the next couple of days I am going to have to think seriously about which one I have a relationship with first. Which one will sweet talk me the most, buy me flowers, dinner? Which one can I rely on to not push me away the moment things get rough? I guess I might have answered my own question, because the first idea has already proved it can't be trusted, whereas the second is yet to break my heart.
Auckland Writers Festival - Love New Zealand Writers
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