The book is driving me nuts. I feel for the most part I’m wading in a swamp through heavy fog, squinting at something – a light, possibly – that I can only just make out in the far distance. Insofar as there are sensations attached to making this thing, they are almost all unpleasant, apart from the temporary breakthroughs that happen now and then, like a ray of sunlight splitting open heavy cloud to reveal a patch of blue sky no bigger than the palm of a hand.
I’m used to struggling with the material. I don’t think I’ve ever written anything where I didn’t have to wrestle with it somewhat. With certain books I can identify the point at which it started to writhe away from me, when I lost patience with it, kicked a metaphorical foot through it, and smashed the whole thing to pieces with an imaginary hammer.
It was going so well a few days ago. Nothing changed; it just stopped cooperating. I try to pin it down (Tell me what you mean! What am I supposed to put here, just here, between that and this?) but it slithers out of my grasp. It’s like dropping soap in the bathtub. You grab for it and think you have it, only for it to shoot out between your fingers.
When it works, it works so well. Hums along, in fact, like the proverbial well-oiled thingy. When it’s not working so well, when there’s grit in the gears, well… I spend a lot of time staring out the window. What comes next? What is it? This hinges on that, so what’s the connection?
It helps if I can do something else, something that’s not writing. But I have the kind of personality that feels guilty about everything, so if I’m not working I’m a lazy slob with no motivation. There’s very little in-between for me. Days when I’m in a steady ‘normal’ mood are the exception rather than the rule. Either I’m bouncing off the ceiling and bursting with great ideas and the means to bring them to fruition or I’m lying face down on the floor, communing with the dust bunnies.
I’m eager to have this book finished, at least the first draft, because there are other projects I want to work on. But it keeps resisting me. It won’t stay still, no matter how hard I try to stab it. I think the only thing to do is to drop a metaphorical anvil on it by taking it in an unexpected direction OR to set it aside and write this tiny little historical thing that’s been niggling at me for the past several days.