A great reluctance

The strangest thing is happening to me.

I’m close – oh so very close – to finishing the rough draft of my archaeological time travel novel, ABSENT.  I’d estimate I’ve got less than 10K left to write and I have the whole thing mapped out.  I know all the twists and turns of the climax, all the awful and wonderful things I’m planning to put the characters through, and the denouement is pretty much a done deal.  The ending could practically write itself.

Thing is, it may have to.  I am feeling a great and terrible reluctance to finish.

Can’t explain it, but every time I open the document to start working…I just don’t.  Work, that is.  I stare at the page.  I sigh.  I open the internet.  I invent chores and errands that simply cannot wait one more second (I mean, if we don’t get a “no leaflets” sign from the hardware store RIGHT NOW, the world will surely end).  Worse, I decide I should *actually* be editing what I’ve already written, obsessively, repeatedly.  Anything, really, other than finish the stupid thing.

For whatever reason, I just can’t seem to seal the deal.  I didn’t have this problem with BLOOD RED SUN, or really with any of the shorts I’ve written, so an inability to finish is a new problem for me.

What’s with this?  Has it happened to anyone else?  Any advice?

Help, please!

9 thoughts on “A great reluctance

  1. Matt Hughes

    I’ve had that before. I’m not entirely sure why, but here’s my guess:

    Seeing a novel for the first time is exciting. You’re creating a whole new world, meeting all new friends, and throwing them into all new situations and waiting to see what happens. You might even be really satisfied to see how it all comes out.

    Then you realize that you have to do the editing and revising. And that’s nothing new – it’s looking at what you’ve already written and ripping the guts out of it. Finding all the flaws and errors. And that is not fun, satisfying, or enjoyable one bit (unless you’re a masochist in which case, go nuts).

    BTW – I did a Google search while writing this up and noticed the guy over at Terrible Minds wrote something similar about this a while back:

  2. Steve Buchheit

    Not unusual. For me part of it is, “Hey, I know the story already.” There’s nothing more to discover.

    Write something else to distract you, and then jump back in. Write the ending out of order.

    Avoid with all your might the notion that, “Something might be wrong, which is why I can’t finish. Must go back and rewrite to make it work.” That way lies madness.

  3. EF Kelley

    I usually hit this point about 2/3rds through. I call it the doldrums. For me it’s a combination of what Matt and Steve said with a healthy pinch of fear. I mean, once I’m done, I have more to do. I’ve got to look at this thing YET AGAIN. Sooooo annoying. Plus, other people will see it. EEEK!

    Anyway, I have yet to find a foolproof way through the doldrums, but I try setting a daily minimum, and I set it much lower than my usual. Usually I do 2000. In the doldrums, 500. I also use Freedom to disable the internet, ask the girlfriend to avoid walking by, and turn off the phone. Some meditative music (industrial/techno for me), maybe a tasty beverage (with rum, but not too much), and I read the preceding three pages. That usually gets me rolling. Slowly. But any forward motion is a success and worthy of celebration.

    Does it help to know that people want to see this one? I know the Vegas writers are all over it.

    1. mirandasuri

      Hate to say it, but I think you’re right. Doldrums central, baby!

      I definitely need to install Freedom. I have major ‘wasting time on the internet’ problems right now.

      And thanks for the encouragement 🙂 I hope it lives up to expectations!

  4. Cath

    I am there. I’ve seen the story that I’m working on, and I’m remaking it, and I’m not really enjoying the not so glamorous stuff. Discovery is cool. Plotting is cool. Doing all that other stuff is not exciting, exactly.

    So, I am trying the old make myself accountable to others trick, and seeing if that works. It often does for me.

    You know that people do want to see the story, so maybe that will help?


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