front garden in November, decline, brown

Faith to the Finish

The work in progress is at a crucial stage. Not only is the protagonist about to face a really big challenge, but the author (that would be me) is being attacked by thoughts such as these:

Why would she wear that dress while crawling through the tunnel? That’s just dumb.

The photos can’t be in two places at the same time. Uh-oh.

Okay, she finds the cello in the underground room. No, she doesn’t. Because it’s the reason she decides to meet him in the wadi. Even if she knows what he did? That’s just dumb.

Aaargh, let’s think this through again.

There should have been more foreshadowing.

This doesn’t make sense. Any of it. Even with foreshadowing.

This novel is a pile of crap.

Trouble is, I’m at 75K words, and until now I’ve been pretty happy with the thing. It’s too late to call it a false start (especially since I’ve been beavering away on it since January).

Can’t quit, can’t go back. The only way out is to keep moving forward. It’s sure to look better when I’m done.

This is where faith comes in. Faith that I can realize the vision for this novel I’ve been carrying around for the last three years. I wrote the first 17 pages and then abandoned it for more than a year, but I never stopped thinking about it.

There are few things worse than being haunted by an unwritten novel. At the beginning of 2017, I resolved to go back and write it. Now that I’m getting to the climax scenes, a kind of performance anxiety has arrived. These are the crucial scenes! What if I mess up? But I’ve learned a lot by now…

The handwritten proto-draft always feels like crap. The real first draft (Word doc) is always better.

Overthinking details is pointless at this stage. Just write ’em down.

Keep pushing the pen and don’t look back.

You’ll work out the kinks later. You’ve done it before and will do it again.

The earlier sections can be tweaked, adjusted, added to and, if necessary, totally rewritten.

Focus on the key elements of the original vision: that which must be preserved, and and that which must be sacrificed.

Focus on how great it will feel to lose this albatross realize this vision.



winter jasmine, yellow flowers, Jasminum nudiflorum

Winter jasmine in bloom: little yellow sparks in the darkest time of the year.





  1. You really captured the mushy middle part and the night of the self-doubts. You have also provided enough details to make me anxious to read it once it is published. Hang in there.

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  2. ‘…There are few things worse than being haunted by an unwritten novel….’

    One of them would be the unfinished novel … that I haven’t touched for far too long … I wonder how much more procrastinating I have in me? 😀

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  3. Love your article and the picture! There’s always that near-the-end feeling that it’s all gone wrong – all you can do is push through it.

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  4. If you had these thoughts half way through the third draft there’d be a problem, but first drafts are meant to be analysed and revised. You’ll have a better overview of the problems once it’s complete. (I rewrote the end of my sixth novel three times. It was a buggar that wouldn’t settle down.)

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    1. I find the hardest part is to keep the imagination engine chugging along and rendering into prose the stuff it cranks out. If I stop to fret about some sort of detail (time, distance, etc.) the whole thing jams up and has to be reset. You’re right, I have to keep on moving and worry about the small stuff once there’s a completed arc.

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