I've done the pep talk. I've tried jumping. I've tried writing rubbish (yes, I think we can safely say I've explored that one to the max). And still flabby prose lies on the page like week-old tripe in a plastic bucket. It's not going well.
Yesterday, looking for a justified alternative to writing, I planned my speech for the Romantic Novelists Association Conference. It was called Mind the Gap in a whimsical moment, and is about how to get your manuscript across the great divide between unpublished and publishable. And as I was lying in bed this morning, in my head going over my sad excuse of a novel, I suddenly thought - there's the answer. I must practice what I preach and apply the same principles to my own work.
At which point I discovered that I have written an unpublishable novel, given I fall down on so many of my own points.
The worst one, the unforgivable sin, is my central character. Oh, she 's busy all right, rushing here and there, but her actions are about filling time. She is reactive, rather than active. In short, she is not a Positive Person Planning with Purpose. This is one of my top commandments, so it's rather awful that I've got this far without realising I've missed it.
But no matter. I've had a quick look back, and I can see how I can give her a Purpose which she can Plan for in a Positive way. Phew. It's going to mean a lot of extra work, and I'm pretty sure I'll miss my deadline (which is a dangerous thing in the current climate) but it's got to be done. An unpublishable novel is an unpublishable novel. End of story. I must practice what I preach.
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