Elizabeth Jane Corbett

writing her way home

A severe dose of real life…

These last two weeks, you seem to have been struck by a severe dose of real life. Behind at work, stuff to do around the house, Doctors appointments with your mum, an emergency dash to the Apple store, catching up with friends, a visit from the Canberra Corbett’s, a family lunch, braving BodyStep class, cycling home in an aching, how-did-I-lose-so-much-form daze, dental appointments, grocery shopping, catching up with friends, Biskit escaping…

Can I go on holiday again please?

All this time your manuscript is waiting in your drawer. You lie in bed each morning with the Marimba alarm tone ringing in your ear, telling yourself, today is the day. Today, you will start work on your novel again… It’s not that you don’t enjoy writing. When the words are flowing, there is nothing better in the world. But…when you are coming back from a long break, wondering what exactly you wrote six weeks ago, whether it will be clumsy and embarrassing when you see it with fresh, almost a stranger’s, eyes, fearing a great wave of despair will crash over you, and that you will realise you’ve been deluding yourself, all along.

You should have focused on your library career.

In the end, you develop a cold, a sniffling, achey-all-over kind of malaise that knocks you flat. You cancel Welsh Class (yes, that bad), crawl into bed and sleep for two days. On the third day, when you eventually drag yourself upright, you spend a day reading Llwbyr Llaethog Llundain, a fascinating little Welsh language book about cattle drovers and the subsequent development of a Welsh dairy industry in London. Not a complete diversion. Your Welsh character was in fact a drover and he did work in a dairy. Though, neither of these details are major plot points (more like back story) and you’ve pretty much got them covered. But, it helps to know the details in those two paragraphs are just right.

Confidence. It’s all about confidence.

Next day you sit on the couch – with a fire blazing and an old lady rug over your knees (okay, so a little indulgent). You won’t ‘work’ on your manuscript, you tell yourself. You’re far too sick. But it won’t hurt to start reading, from the beginning. That way you’ll get to know your characters again. And if it all gets too much, you can simply curl up on the couch and go back to sleep.

Now, this is the kind of thing writing books warm you about all the time – ‘avoid going back to the beginning.’ But you are at a fine tuning stage, trying to respond to reader feedback, and make subtle but meaningful changes. It’s scary. And it makes your brain ache.

And sometimes…well, you have to trick yourself.

You play at ‘not writing‘ for a couple of days. Mostly, you tinker. In some places, you re-draft whole paragraphs, once, twice, three times. Other times, you press delete. Doodling, journaling, trashing, commenting, all the while working your way back into the story. By Thursday, you have reached the scenes that most needed changing. Some, still need work. Others…maybe they are okay? You take a deep breath and hook your laptop up to the screen on your desk. Your sniffles are gone. The fog of jet-lag has lifted. You realise you are back. Writing. It’s time to get serious.



The wrap up


The film is never as good as the book

1 Comment

  1. I thought I was reading about myself, Liz. It’s always hard to get back into it when you’ve had a break away – even when you really want and need to write. There’s always that voice of doubt making it difficult to dive in.
    Glad to know you made it through.

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