Dead As a Door-nail

We spent this past weekend at my brother and sister-in-law’s near Richmond, and both Saturday and Sunday, we watched as vultures gathered on a dead tree in my brother’s back yard.  In a house filled with old people, that’s not a sight you want to see.  I finally figured out why they were there.  They were there for me.  Well, not for my actual body.  I’m hoping I still have some good years left.  They were there for my dead manuscript.  Yes, it is dead in the water, or as Dickens said of Old Marley, dead as a door-nail.  After whizzing through the first 30,000 words, I’ve finally run out of steam.  My characters stare listlessly back at me, slugging down their gin and tonics, wondering when I will get busy and do my part.  After all, they tell me, they wrote the first 30,000 words with no help from me.  They invented themselves and set their subplots into motion while I was still sharpening my pencils.  “The plot’s all yours, Old Woman,” they say, those little condescending snots.

Now I am sitting here with 40,000 words of rubbish, 170 double-spaced pages, and unless a miracle occurs, I ain’t going to get any further.  What’s worse, I think I used up all my brain cells getting those 40,000 words out, because I can’t even think of any decent blog posts.  I’m pretty sure my writing days are over.  What ever made me think I could write a novel?  What a joke!  I have about as much chance of finishing this project as I do of becoming a concert violinist (I now have Lightly Row memorized).  I might as well throw the whole thing in the trash where it belongs and clean out the garage, a much more worthwhile job.  Or I could feed it to those vultures who obviously have been waiting for it.  They know when something’s dead by its smell, you know, and my novel stinks to high heaven.  Or, maybe I should…WHACK! Ouch!  Sorry, I just slapped myself in the face.  Time to get back to work.

About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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35 Responses to Dead As a Door-nail

  1. Joni Beach says:

    Thanks for visiting and “liking” one of my post! i’m glad I found your blog that I am enjoying reading…I’ll plan to stop by regularly. My Best, jb

  2. Robin says:

    40,000! That’s fantastic. You’re probably even further along by now. (I am woefully behind in keeping up with my fellow bloggers.) I hope you were able to silence the negative voices and get back to it. 🙂

  3. We writers are our worst critics. Just keep writing and when you’re done put it away and let it rest. When you come back, you will find some amazing gems. Stop listening to that critic that tells you to quit and celebrate what you’ve accomplished. BTW, I love what you’ve written here – you so well capture the stress and despair and discouragement I feel. With my writing, I need a daily emotional “propping up”.

  4. Good gracious, girl, you’ve written 40,000 words in between all the other aspects of your life! That’s quite an accomplishment! Now, here’s my recommendation, for what it’s worth. 😉 Take a break. Time with the family for Thanksgiving should do it. Then come back, and tell those characters that you’re the boss. Next, take away their gin, tell them to get up off their drunken duffs and stop their loafing around and whining. After all, where would they be without YOU??? 😀

    • Coming East says:

      I like your style, Mama. But could you please tell them? I’m a little afraid of them…Thanks for you comment. It made me laugh.

      • I’m glad you got a good laugh since this novel writing gig is serious stuff! I know you’re not a fan of confrontation, so I totally understand why these unruly characters cause you a little trepidation. So sure, I’ll come and “read them the riot act” for you!! I have been told on more than one occasion that I’m a little bossy, so might as well put that “characteristic” of mine to good use!! 😉 Ha.

      • Coming East says:

        I’m so glad to have a “bossy” blogging friend in my corner!

  5. I happy to announce that you are officially a writer now. There’s simply no going back. You can stick that 40,000 word manuscript in a drawer, or the garbage, or hide it in some half-forgotten corner of your hard drive, but the story won’t ever leave you, I’m afraid. The answers will come. Just take a break. Go for a walk (outside – not pacing back and forth in front of your desk). Eat some pumpkin pie. Make your characters eat pumpkin pie. Make them go for a walk. Maybe to the drugstore for aspirin. Surely someone has a headache after all that gin? Just try not to stress about it. It doesn’t matter if you finish this month or not. You’ve already accomplished far more than you thought you would. You will finish. And then you will get to rewrite… 🙂

    • Coming East says:

      Thank you so much for your comment, Amy. I would really like to make it to 50,000 words, but since I’ll be gone for a week to be with our children for Thanksgiving and do not plan to take time away from them by writing, I don’t think I’m going to make it. Your comment made me put things in perspective. You are so right. I’ve not much more than I ever thought I would or could. I feel like a writer!

  6. E.C. says:

    40,000 is an impressive amount. ~applause~ As hard as you’ve been working on Nano and with all the things going on in your life, I figure you need a break to catch your breath for awhile. Relax, the words will come. Keep up the great work. 🙂

  7. Amy says:

    40,000 words in such a short period of time, that’s a big milestone! Maybe the brain is asking for a little break.

  8. winsomebella says:

    I am as impressed as everyone else with what you’ve already accomplished. Whether it’s house cleaning or a walk in the woods, I bet giving yourself some space will bring you back refreshed and ready. So amazing you have already written so much. And then you wrote a post to inspire the rest of us too!

    • Coming East says:

      Thank you, Winsomebella. I have so much to catch up on when this is over. I have missed visiting my blogging friends’ blogs and seeing what everyone is up to. Thanks for sticking with me anyway.

  9. Dor says:

    Just BEGINNING to write a novel would have me stumped and smacking myself. Writer’s block before ever putting one word down. You are actually amazing Susan. Seems to me you just need to put things aside for a bit, have a decadent day. I’ll bet the urge for words will return pronto!

  10. Aw, hope you come ‘unstuck’ very soon! Well done for getting so far, maybe you could try cloud diagrams or some other creative way of generating ideas. 🙂

  11. Margie says:

    Maybe you should cap the fictional gin bottle and send your characters back to work! If they don’t do anything, you can’t write about it!

  12. pattisj says:

    40,000? You’ve got this one beat. It’s only the 16th. You need to do something else for awhile. Today would be a great day to get out for a walk, fresh air, lunch with a friend…The results are amazing when one steps aside for a day of inspiration.

  13. yen says:

    Wow, that’s a lot of words! keep on keeping on,susan! congratulations on the word count!

  14. Highly impressive, to my mind. I got stuck at 6,100 words FOR A YEAR. I was going to ask you how you stayed unstuck. Guess it happens to everybody! Keep up the work (even if you don’t think it’s “good” work.)

  15. Shary Hover says:

    40,000 words! That is wonderful! Impressive! Amazing!
    I do know how frustrating it is to run out of steam, but you’ve been working so hard. Maybe you need a tiny break to do something fun to recharge your creativity. And you absolutely can write a novel. The first draft is supposed to be rubbish.
    Now I’m going to go get busy on my 25,000 words of rubbish. I’ve got some work to do to catch up with you! 🙂

  16. Been there, and I know how tough that feeling is. Hope today’s a better day! (p.s. 40,000 words??? THAT’S AWESOME! 🙂

  17. kd sullivan says:

    I’ve been feeling that way too! Don’t give up! I, for one, can’t wait to read your novel…and this post is funny and inspiring as always. I need your voice!

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