On Finishing

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Hello people of the Internet! Remember me?

Probably not.

You see, I’ve been absent for a while. A good long while. I’ve been slack. You know it. I know it. We all know it. And the worst part? I have no better excuse than life and procrastination.

Truth is, the longer I left it, the harder it became to return to the blogosphere. Often I’d casually click on my dashboard, peruse over past posts, and feel strangely as if I was reading someone else’s words. The words of someone creative, peculiar, and sometimes even a little bit witty. The words of someone who wrote every day. And I felt a little bit sad that that person had gone away, and wasn’t quite sure how to find her again.

“Start a new blog!” I told myself. “There’s no hope left for this one. The dust on the shelves is too deep, the weeds in the garden too many.”

But I couldn’t quite bring myself to do it. So I’d go away again and try to forget there was a little piece of the Internet waiting just for me.

This time last year I was living in Edinburgh and a few days away from submitting my final 20,000 word extract of my novel-in-progress. Since then, I have jumped the border and now live in a little town in England, am working at a castle where they filmed Harry Potter, and spend my days either dressed up as a medieval peasant, flying broomsticks*, or taking guided tours around a medieval fortress talking about very old things. Life is good. In fact, it’s bloody good. But there’s one thing missing…

…the writing.

And it occurs to me that since submitting my novel extract this time last year, I have spurned it the same way I have this blog. At first it was a case of a well-needed mental break after several months of intense writing. It felt as though I had sucked every last creative word out of my body and needed to replenish the supply. But then, like the blog, the longer I left it, the harder it was to return to it. The words already written became the words of a stranger and finding that voice again seemed like very hard work.

“Start a new story!” I said. “Shiny new characters, spectacular new places!”

But was I really prepared to let a full 50,000 words already written go to waste? Some of which scored me a place at last year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival?

Not likely.

And then, as if the stars were looking down on me and giving me a little extra nudge, I stumbled across a Neil Gaiman quote:

Most people can start a short story or a novel. If you’re a writer, you can finish them. Finish enough of them, and you may be good enough to be publishable.

It’s taken the better part of a year, but in the last month I’ve started jotting things down again. On scraps of paper, in my lunch break, when I hear something curious or interesting or lifechanging or funny or sad or odd. The creative bank is replenished and the words are beginning to trickle again. Slowly? Yes. The creative brain needs exercise like any other muscle, and mine is long out of shape.

This blog will never be finished. Such is the beauty of a medium with few expectations but those the author applies to it. Here flow my thoughts, my hopes, my ideas and my tribulations. These are constant, regardless of whether I write them down and publish them on the Internet or not. But I hope to do better, to write more, and to connect with the blogosphere like that girl I used to know. Because giving up is not an option.

I am a writer. And writer’s finish what they start.

Neil Gaiman said so.

* Just in case you didn’t believe me about the broomstick thing, I present photographic evidence:

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This is what having the best job in the world looks like.

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21 comments on “On Finishing

  1. Sweet! I love that you’re riding broomsticks and working in a castle. WISH I COULD BE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And as for the blog/writing thing, I totally 100% can relate. I’m currently taking a break from my blog as well. I feel badly about that but it was 1) taking too much time and 2) felt like an obligation, not a joy. I have still been writing, though – working on my second manuscript (not that anyone has wanted to buy my first) and writing freelance for my local newspaper. I love that Gaiman quote – very encouraging, actually. I was very discouraging today while looking at the critiques from the last chapters that my critique group looked at…but I know that they’re right. It’s just that it takes so much energy to get the words right. But I’m a writer! So I can do it…Neil Gaiman said so! :-)

  2. katy! i love your writing so much. it makes me so happy to think sometime soon i will pick up a fantastical novel off a bookstore shelf and turn to the person next to me and say ‘my friend wrote this!’
    i do the same thing by the way – somehow the thought of starting something ‘new and fresh’ is much easier for me to approach then finishing something i had started (example: uni … cough cough)
    miss you katy pants xxxxx

    • Callie! Your comment put the biggest smile ever on my face! Miss your face far too much.
      And who needs uni when you’re a SUPERMODEL?!
      x

  3. Katy I completely understand where you’re coming from. I’ve been a bad blogger and a bad writer because I’ve allowed work and life to get in the way. Any words that don’t have to be written for work or university just don’t make it, however I relate to you mentioning the creativity coming back. As I watch the sun rise over the hills behind Launceston while walking the dog these chilly autumn mornings, I can feel ideas forming, sentences developing and characters scratching at my mind, telling me they want to come out. Like you I’ll get there. Let’s hope it’s sooner than later. PS love your flying :)

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one Johanna, and yet the guilt is still present! But Apple Island sunrises on chilly autumn mornings definitely sound like just the kind of inspiration a writer could do with every once in a while! ;) WE CAN DO IT!

    • I like to think so Lucy. And look forward to the day when we can perhaps once again exchange words of fiction, (even though you’ll probably be a Vogel prize winner by then!).

  4. Lovely post, Katy. It really struck a chord with me, actually, because I’ve experienced exactly the same thing before: long periods of time with no writing that really causes worry. But I’m so glad to hear you’re picking it up again, however slow it may be. Starting again is the hard part! For what it’s worth, I’ve always managed to pull myself out of these ruts and, in the grand scheme of things, I don’t think the amount of ‘time off’ you had will feel as long or scary when you look back on it.
    Anyway, I’ll stop babbling now, and marvel that you are in Alnwick, which is so near my parents and such a beautiful part of the world! And if you ever come up to Edinburgh, do give me a shout!
    Happy writing! :)

    • Great to hear from you Amanda, and thank you for the reassuring words. As Gretchen said, it’s always good to know we’re not doing it alone, and for my part it’s encouraging to hear from people who have gone through, and emerged unscathed, from similar trials.
      Meanwhile, Northumberland has to be the friendliest place I’ve encountered in a good long while, and so very beautiful. You’re parents are very lucky people. I’m absolutely loving the country life! Will give you a yell next time I cross the border, and likewise, if you’re ever in Aln-town, give me a bell!

  5. Pingback: A writer’s mind | storytelling nomad

  6. The fact that it took me nearly three months to read this post should tell you that I completely understand what it’s like to lose touch with the blogosphere. :P

    Here’s to many more posts and endless words!

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