If writing a book can be described in terms of giving birth, Chapter Three is morning sickness.
I’ve done all the fun stuff (no sniggering at the back!), the research, the world building. I’ve written the back story, dug deep for the angst that will fuel the internal conflict, trolled through Google to find images that fit my characters.
I’ve had the excitement of writing the beginning. Getting the hero and heroine on paper. That first connection. The story starting to unfold.
Then comes Chapter Three.
I don’t know why the awfulness of it always takes me by surprise. It happens every time and in a way it’s inevitable. So much has happened in those first 50-odd pages, but now that first rush of excitement has evaporated. Doubt sets in. Is this rubbish? I send what I’ve written to my birthing partner (otherwise known as my editor), because this is a big project and I want it to be right – but she’s moving house; she’ll get back to me, but not soon enough to talk me through the pain.
Writing the crime novel that I started seven years ago suddenly looks like a much more rewarding prospect (but then I never did get to chapter three). Actually, forget writing anything. What I need is displacement activity. I print a photograph of Hugh Jackman. I make an appointment to have my hair cut. I discover a sociability that utterly deserts me when the writing it going well. Even cutting the lawn becomes a deeply appealing occupation. I write a post for my blog. (I deleted all games from my work computer the day I brought it home – I learned that one the hard way!)
When I’ve wasted an entire week, I try reminding myself how it was when I wrote The Marriage Miracle. That I started in the wrong place. Had at least three attempts at getting Matty and Sebastian on the page together before it fell into place. (I always try something complicated first and have to hone it down to perfect simplicity.) As a tactic it’s useless. It’s the childbirth thing, again. The minute my editor calls to say the book has been scheduled, I forget the pain.
I even know – in theory – what the problem is. It’s the end of the beginning. My character has made life changing decisions. Taken the first steps. Now it’s time to move forward. But, like Belle Davenport, I’m not finding it as easy as I’d hoped.