Five Years In A Room

Have you ever felt stuck? While writing your story or novel, have you ever felt blocked about it so much so that the whole business of creating, crafting and producing works of fiction seems uncertain to you?

Years ago, while we were still living in Dubai, I had this idea for a novel. After I had the characters, the theme, the setting and the main plot sorted out I even started writing it. Being a wife, a mother of two young children, and a full time teacher I didn’t have much time during the day to actually write. I tried my best to work on it every day even if it was only for half an hour. Unfortunately I couldn’t complete it before leaving Dubai seven years ago.

Here in Montreal, during the first year there was so much else to do before I could even get the manuscript out of the box I had packed it in. And by the time I finally had the chance to look at it so much had changed in my personal life. Reading through it I couldn’t connect with the story. It was such a happy theme it seemed so alien to me. Here I was in my grief, reading something from my past that I had lost and didn’t know how to deal with except to use Margaret Atwood’s words:

“I could make myself cry even more by repeating the key words: love, alone, sad, over. I did it on purpose.”

So after months of sweating over the manuscript I got depressed and put it aside, and that hurts. To quote Mordecai Richler:

“Five years in a room with a novel-in-progress can be more than grueling. If getting up to it some mornings is a pleasure, it is, just as often, a punishment. A self-inflicted punishment. There have been false starts, wrong turns, and weeks with nothing to show except sharpened pencils and bookshelves rearranged. I have rewritten chapters ten times that in the end simply don’t belong and had to be cut. Ironically, even unforgivably, it usually seems to be those passages over which I have labored most arduously, nurtured in the hothouse, as it were, that never really spring to life, and the pages that came too quickly, with utterly suspect ease, that read most felicitously.”



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