“How do you feel?” my husband asked me last night when I told him I had finished writing my novel, Autodrome. “Not sure,” I answered truthfully, fully aware the answer should’ve been excited, euphoric, nervous, or enthusiastic. In fact, my strongest emotion was relief. Relief that I had somehow wound up at the end of that complex ball of word strings. Relief that the seemingly insurmountable list of ‘notes’ had somehow condensed itself into a few simple sentence insertions. Relief that, if nothing else, I had a start, middle and an end.
About time too. I am a slow writer. There is no getting away from it. I am obsessed with the minutia. Yes, I have a thing for the bubblegum feel of action adventure and stylistics, but my greatest dread is someone catching me out on mechanical details or historical accuracy. Perhaps this is why the writing of Autodrome has really hurt my head!
I remember a period of feeling utterly lost. The last quarter of the novel refused to be written and despite my having plotted the story in detail. I realised it was all in danger of ‘going on a bit.’ Rather than plough on until the bugger gave in, I found myself at a stalemate, unable to convince myself to write words for the sake of it. Writer’s block? I don’t think so. I don’t really believe in the thing. More a case of needing time to sift ideas and resift and resift.
In the meantime, I took solace in that great social tradition, the writers’ convention – or, as it turned out, three of them. Last September, Fantasycon gave Del and I our yearly excuse to return to our spiritual home of Nottingham and sink a beer or several with friends, old and new. November brought a Saturday night at Novacon, featuring an angry robot, free Champagne, and Ian Watson birthing a banana through his jumper. And in-between came Ian Con as it was affectionately named – the birthday extravaganza of writer, publisher and editor, Ian Whates.
Not that writing slunk away on its belly entirely. Instead, I started work on a new novella, a sister piece to Black Sunday, written in May 2009. While Black Sunday is set in the 1930s dustbowl, the new novella emerged as a New Weird-tinged story taking place on a desiccated planet. And it was all going swimmingly well…until the ideas for the last quarter of Autodrome started to fall into some sort of meaningful tea-leaf pattern.
Placing the new novella into the cryogenic sleep pod otherwise known as ‘on the back burner’, I took another shot at Autodrome. And this time, it gave me a way in. Seeing those startling, wondrous words ‘THE END’ after my final round of edits, I couldn’t help but feel relieved. And the thing is I’m pleased with the ending. It came out right in the end…And what does make me feel excited, euphoric, nervous, and enthusiastic is the thought of others reading it now. For me, that’s what this whole writing game is about, hoping others enjoy the world you’ve shaped and want you to shape some more.
Talking of which, its time to defrost the new novella.