It’s winter in Queensland, and the cold weather has our Year of the Novel blogger, Caro, reflecting on day-to-day doubts that plague all writers and the larger fear waiting in reserve….
I don’t know if it’s the cold weather, the flu bug that’s going around, or the inevitable talk of apocalypse that accompanies a series of celestial events but this week I’ve been consumed by a series of niggly, self-doubty questions. As writers I’m sure you’re no stranger to bouts of insecurity—writing is, at times, an isolating process and when you’re in the middle of a project the line between genius and crazy narrows so much you’re never sure what side you’re sitting on. I regularly question characters, plot directions and, most especially, unexpected twists—but more often than not these questions make my writing better.
But the questions I’ve been asking this week are deeper and more unsettling. The best way I can describe it is a kind of overreach-regret. Not familiar with the term? That’s ok, I made it up… so allow me to define it.
You know when you decide to clear out an overstocked cupboard? You start out all gung-ho enthusiasm and good intentions, but pretty soon you find an item that belongs in a different cupboard, and you notice how messy that cupboard it. Before you know it, you’re emptying boxes, drawers and files onto the floor, caught up in the mania of the complete house overhaul you’ve been meaning to do for years. This is great, you think. Everything’s going to be so neat once it’s done, you tell yourself. Greatest. Clean-up. Ever.
But suddenly—and believe me, it always happens suddenly—the elation disappears altogether. You’re no longer a cleaning machine. You’re just a fool standing waist-deep in a pile of everything you own, painfully aware you’ve made a terrible mistake.
That’s overreach-regret, and if it’s possible I’ve done the literary equivalent—or, I’m worried about to. There’s an element of my story that’s bugging me, and I know I’m going to need to act on it before it festers into a terrible plot hole. But it’s a change that will lead to an entire overhaul and I’m more than a little nervous.
Has this happened to you? Did you survive the overhaul? Let me know—I’d love to hear your perspective.