Sometimes this book writing business is very hard work. Mostly it’s not. Barbara and I chatter, laugh and write fast. It’s perhaps because it’s generally good fun and productive that the reverse experience comes as a bit of a shock.
Today was grim. Even though at the end of the day we have some 3,500 words, a clear place to start tomorrow and a revised plan, it’s been pretty tough going.
Today has been wading through mud. Gloopy, sticky, thick, hard to get clear of mud.
We struggled to get going again after our break. We couldn’t find out how to start off the next, new chapter. We had several goes at ordering the contents. We made many false starts. There was a lot of cutting and pasting, moving about, rewriting and patching up as we went along.
It wasn’t until the very end of the day, in fact just before Barbara went off for Nana duties with the grandchildren, that we felt that we actually had something that was OK.
Part of today’s problem was getting stuff out of my head – this is a chapter which, in part, builds on some of the supervision pedagogies that I use. I took so much of it for granted that it was difficult for Barbara to see where I was going with it. But the wallowing in mud feeling was also because a substantial part of the chapter is what we’ve written before. We needed to say some things that we both know really well and believe in passionately – but say them in different ways. Usually that’s fairly easy. Today it wasn’t.
We were stuck in our usual rhetoric and our history of explanations. Even new examples didn’t get us unstuck.
We behaved pretty well considering the frustrating time we were having. Neither of us lost our temper. Neither of us walked out. Neither of us stopped trying. Even though there were several cups of tea along the way, we didn’t take an unusually long lunch, even though that was a pretty tempting proposition. We just kept going.
In the end we got up and out of the mud simply through a stubborn refusal to give up – or perhaps I should rephrase that positively and say we got through the difficult period because of our self-discipline. We are able to force ourselves to keep writing till we have done a reasonable amount, reasonably well. And just as well.
It was a relief to stop. And we are certainly hoping for clear ground tomorrow.
I am loving hearing about your writing and relating
One of the “down” bits of it but hopefully a short one 🙂
I love how you share your writing process, and the emotional rollercoaster it can be. For me, this is really important modelling. It shows me that even experienced, successful writers can find it hard going sometimes, and that the way to get through is to just keep trying – different ways,a renewed vision. Its what I do, but I usually do it feeling that I’m stupid and incapable because I cant ‘get it’ in the first draft.
I’m actually not good at anything in life. Most things that I love to do I have to practice, practice, practice – sport, music, whatever. It’s only the love of the goal and the desire to ‘belong’ to that field that keeps me going forward. It’s grim determination, not talent, gets me through.
Sadly, supervisors and senior academics seem to love most the talented high flyers; rarely do they understand the experience of ‘strugglers’ to who take longer, agonise more, yet have the determination and persistence to do the hard yards to get them through. Students like me aren’t going to bring the reflected glory of a ‘university medal’ or a fast-track. Plodders are not valued, less understood, get less support.
You’ve helped me today, renewed a belief in myself, that I’ll get through because I keep trying . I will feel less inadequate because you, as professional academics, have shown me that it’s always a struggle, there are always obstacles and roadblocks to good writing.
On another level, as a reader/student, I now appreciate the effort that good professional writers make to bring their ideas to readers. Thank you, so much, for your efforts