Knowing when to stop persevering

I don’t suppose it’s odd at all but it struck me that struggles with writing are similar to some struggles with life. Most of the time for me, writing goes blithely along – yes, there are challenges and times when I have to put in a lot of effort, and stamina is often called for, and there are joyous unlooked for inspirations which send me off exploring a completely unthought of and exciting narrative path Out of nowhere characters pop up and become friends and heroes, or gradually emerge from a walk-on part to being a major player. It’s the same in life – well, in my life; most of the time i go blithely along, coping with challenges (even if they hurt or are upsetting) sometimes I have to work harder – when I was a teacher, when I was bringing up the children, when i was coping with various other things; sometimes I had to keep slogging on. I’m thinking again of teaching, difficult and challenging classes and students – not to mention some difficult and challenging colleagues! In my life wonderful things have unexpectedly happened – finding my life partner (we’d known each other twelve years and never realised there was any connection!) having children late in life, finding time to write all day every day. And how many friends have I made from the most unexpected encounter, or suddenly realised how close I was to someone I’d known for donkey’s years – e.g. again, my now husband!

There are times in life and times in writing, when persevering is not a good thing – and if i think back over my life I can think of many incidents, some of them to do with relationships, where I tried my best, tried my hardest, kept on working at whatever it was when really I should have said enough!  and quit. You do have to work hard, you do have to push through the barriers and overcome the challenges, but sometimes you are never going to be able to work hard enough, or get through or over the barrier, or overcome the challenge. Even if you go about it in a different way, sometimes some goals cannot be reached. So then giving up is the right thing to do. I’ve got stories I have written which I am never going to make anything of, and the hours of work it would take to attempt to complete them would just not be worth it, became they are duds!! There might be a good idea or a decent character lurking in the tens or even hundreds or thousands of words, but they are never going to escape the mountain of dross they are concealed in.

I had a sudden revelation yesterday with my current novel I’m working on Winterdyke. It’s taken a long time to write, partly because it was a more difficult plot device than I had realised, partly because last year I had a serious mojo-deficiency, and partly because home circumstances had changed – in a nice way but  time-consuming way. I think Father Christmas must have popped a new mojo in my Christmas stocking because since the beginning of the year I’ve been working much better, particularly with my writing, thank goodness, but also with other things.

Back to my yesterday revelation; I suddenly realised that the last few scenes of the story just would never work, that I was absolutely wasting my time struggling over them and i should cut the 1500 word chapter and start that part again with a complexly different final scene. Now my mind is full of ideas, fizzing to get going on writing the climax to the adventure, knocking it into shape, and checking through the rest of the story to make sure everything fits!

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