That end of book fidget, and iPad roundup

The end of book ‘fidget’

Turns out that I’m not alone when I say I’ve got the “end of book fidget”. It’s that feeling you get when you’re within sight of the end, with a big climax to write, but your brain is on the next book.

The next book is new, fresh, and exciting. It has a killer title. The plot is out of this world. This is the book you’ll be known for. You want to start writing it now.

The old book is old, dull, stale. You know the story and the character inside out, you can’t wait for the hero to save the day so everyone can go home. You know the book needs a gosh-darned thrashing at the second draft to solve a couple of plot problems and iron out some character kinks. You’ve been living with this book for a couple of months, or more. You’re tired.

One of the fascinating things I’ve discovered about writing is that a writer will think that their experience is unique, that the thoughts they have and the emotion changes they go through during the course of writing are brand new, and (usually) completely wrong. The universe is trying to tell you that you aren’t a writer and you shouldn’t be trying. Your story is lame, the characters weak and two-dimensional. The plot is terrible, the prose itself is the most god-awful tripe ever put to paper. If you could just stop right now and try the next book, everything would turn out fine and writing would be less like sweating bullets.

Except Neil Gaiman gets this feeling. He said so. Michael Stackpole gets this feeling. He said so too. Most writers do, from late night amateurs honing their craft to seasoned pros with lengthy bestseller back catalogues. And then when one writer talks to another writer to tell them about the terrible time they’re having, they’re shocked to discover that the other guy feels exactly the same way.

Okay, I exaggerate. Writing is fun, and it can be easy, and it’s something I have to do. It’s not continual torture, and more often than not, the plot and characterisation work just fine. If they didn’t, I’d be in trouble.

But there are moments like the above, scattered all throughout the writing process. And at this point, as Empire State hits 95,000 out of a projected 100,000, I get the end of book fidget. And despite me knowing all the above about how every writer goes through the same thing at key points, I was still surprised to discover writer friends who knew exactly what I was talking about, or who were stuck in the exact same situation as me.

Fortunately, the solution is pretty easy. Ignore the fidget, sit down and finish the book. I suspect there are an awful lot of almost-finished novels in the world because the writer hasn’t realised that the end of book fidget is just a normal part of the process. And there are an awful lot of half-finished and quarter-finished novels in the world because the writer has succumbed to one of those other feelings of inadequacy at some point.

You gotta keep on truckin’! Empire State will be done in a few days. Then Ludmila, My Love, can take centre stage.

The iPad

It’s been three weeks now since Apple introduced the iPad. The interweb is full of speculation and opinion, so I’ll leave you to Google for it if you haven’t been keeping track of the commentary. My last post, which was far, far too long ago, talked about the things I wanted from the device. Did it deliver? Yes, on every count – function, portability, and importantly, price. UK pricing has not been announced yet, but Macworld have done a pretty good estimate. Even the most expensive model, the 64GB 3G version, only comes in at a hair under £700. For me, that’s worth every penny for a good-sized, capable internet device and e-reader.