I've written three novels, and I'm almost finished with the first draft of another. Two of those novels are out on submission, while the other is available at the right side of the screen here. I've also got the remains of three novels resting in their various urns, reduced to ashes in their digital crypt.
Why did those books whither and die? Why are they mere ashes, and not at least piles of dessicated bones?
Because they never had any blood in them to begin with.
I wrote an interpretation of the Stick Indian Mythos (20,000 words), a post-apocalyptic punk story (26,000) words and one of those clumsy, oafish middle-aged man has a crisis stories (18,000 words); not a one of them ever took so much as a breath in the world.
Even as I was writing them, I felt they were lifeless things. But have you ever found yourself lost, fumbling around on unfamiliar streets? You look for something that feels like a road mark, but you just push further into your predicament? You get that obstinate air about you, and then you bargain with yourself (it's really not that bad...) and then comes that moment of cold realization: I'm in a pickle--better stop for directions.
It can feel like that, writing a novel. And sometimes, the best directions are just to move on.
Here's an interesting article on the topic. That stuff in there about Chabon, a writer whose stuff I really enjoy, is interesting. Five and a half years before he pulled the plug! I know there are numerous stories of novels never getting finished, after decades and decades of revision and work.
On Sunday night, I'm going to go through and read the work I'm drafting. I'm not going to make any marks, I'm just going to read it and see how the two of us are doing. Are we still making eyes at each other, me and that manuscript? I hope so, because if we are, come Monday I'm buying it flowers and taking it out for dinner...