Tuesday 16 July 2013


Patchwork by Pippa Quilts
I like this one of Sarah Waters' Ten Rules for Writing Fiction from The Guardian in 2010:

'Don’t panic. Midway through writing a novel, I have regularly experienced moments of bowel-curdling terror, as I contemplate the drivel on the screen before me and see beyond it, in quick succession, the derisive reviews, the friends’ embarrassment, the failing career, the dwindling income, the repossessed house, the divorce . . . Working doggedly on through crises like these, however, has always got me there in the end. Leaving the desk for a while can help. Talking the problem through can help me recall what I was trying to achieve before I got stuck. Going for a long walk almost always gets me thinking about my manuscript in a slightly new way. And if all else fails, there’s prayer. Saint Francis de Sales, the patron saint of writers, has often helped me out in a crisis. If you want to spread your net more widely, you could try appealing to Calliope, the muse of epic poetry, too.'

Yes, 'working doggedly on' is the only thing. The novel I am working on (novel #3) has had some hair-raising moments (the writing of it) but I am near the finish line, thank Saint Francis de Sales. Actually, the last sentence is written, but there are some in-between sentences that still need to be done, so I am patchworking at the moment and it is slow, laborious work, much like real patchwork.

Tonight I go to hear Colum McCann read from Transatlantic at Galway Arts Festival with a dear writer friend and I look forward to him, and to her, and to immersing myself in other writers' worlds for a few hours. Leaving the desk for a while can help. Who knows, my patchwork may even be a bit neater by the time I get back to the book on Wednesday :)


Words A Day said...

please come back & tell us EVERYTHING colm says, I'm a big fan would love to be there:)

off to 'work doggedly'

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Love this post! xxx

dan powell said...

As I am currently smack bang in the middle of my own novel panic this post could not have appeared at a better time. I'm 95% done and all I see at the moment is everything that is wrong with my novel. Having said that though, I at least know what needs fixing. I will make sure this advice is pinned over my desk when writing resumes after our house move.

Hope your step away from the desk helps.

Group 8 said...

Niamh - if I get a mo today I will blog Colum's reading.

Group 8 said...

Thanks, Vanessa, and cheers for sharing on your blog :) N x

Group 8 said...

Dan - deep breaths. The work is rarely as bad as we think it is.
For me, the best thing I can do is finish the thing and at least then I have something to work with. Good luck!
N x