In process (Photo by Tseen Khoo)

The Write Nights have been dealt a blow recently due to the trailing illnesses that families circulate among themselves. First, it was me; then my buddy had to bail from the night to tend to her partner’s man-flu. We’re on for a session next week, bacteria willing. We’ve only been doing these for a relatively short time, but I missed it. The focus on one piece of work. No internet distractions. Just me and my Word file.

Of course, I can do it at home, but home comes with its share of distractions even though the kids are asleep.

My mum, for example. Love her dearly, but she doesn’t seem to understand the block-out of conversation/responses that I aim for when I’m embedding myself in the text and creating the narrative. So, she’ll ask me something, or be telling me a long and involved story. Because I’m not responding or making any supportive noises, she comes closer and closer as she’s talking. I usually end up having to laugh, and take time out for the conversation.

Regardless, I did pomodoro alone at home a few times and they were successful evenings. I’m dedicating Write Nights to my novel, rather than the other writing that I’ve committed myself to throughout this year: Research Whisperer, this blog, guest-posts for other blogs, guest articles for hardcopy publications (about research cultures/practice – I love being invited to do this as it’s drawing on my previous life as an academic but recognising my current role and generated expertise). I think there’s only been one blog ’emergency’ when I had to get a post finished and used a session for that.

So, how’s the novel coming along?

I can already tell that I’m going to dislike this question more than I ever did the ‘how’s the thesis?’ one. Partly, it’s because I’ve never written a whole novel before and I’m not sure what it might do yet. Learning from my last experience, where I got eight chapters in and abandoned it, I do have a structure. But the narrative keeps wandering, and I don’t know if I’m totally wedded to the initial structure I came up with. I know there’s a certain amount of fluidity – it’s a creative process, after all – but I’m aware that I may well be wandering far away from the arc I sketched.

Also? The fear that it is all just a stinking heap is always there.

Sometimes, it recedes and I can lose myself in it enough that it is satisfying just because I’m writing it. Other times – always when I’m reading over the last session’s efforts and developing things – every sentence, character, and plot direction is a cliché. Every. One.

I’m only about 5000 words in and I’m already mulling over potential first readers for it. When I was writing the Abandoned Novel, I had a captive audience of two colleagues who read every chapter as I finished it, offered advice and exuded enjoyment, and egged me on to the next section. It was a fabulous fun, writing with them as the appreciative audience in mind. They asked after Chapter 8 for a long while afterwards; my guilt at abandoning the novel dimmed over time, but I still re-visit the idea of it every once in a while.

Since I started writing so much more, I’ve had mad visions of rescuing and completing it.

Perhaps just one novel at a time. Perhaps.


  • First Write Night post is HERE