I was always under the impression that when I sat myself down to finally write a novel, that I’d be frantically tapping away at the keyboard, wouldn’t wash for weeks and would know where the story was going.
It was a pretty romanticised view of writing, that we know what we’re doing all of the time and our muse continually feeds us with amazing ideas. But as I soon found out, it’s not like that at all. Mostly we’re just sitting around, making bad coffee and (if you’re like me) typing about a chapter a week.
E.L. Doctorow said that
Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.
I quite like driving at night. It’s better than driving in fog. But sometimes we have to do that too, I guess. And maybe the trip would be boring if we drove the whole way in the day time. We’d miss out on bats flying overhead, or animals struck by bright lights. Or that eerie feeling when you drive on empty roads.
We’d have no mystery. And in writing, mystery makes room for new ideas, spin-offs, wild tangents. That’s why I’ve learned to love driving in the dark.