Yellow eyes suddenly switched on near my bed and sailed in an arc through the air to settle somewhere above my head and begin a slow descent. My blood had frozen, and my limbs felt tied. I heard the unmistakable, sticky sound of lips parting, and a lighter patch in the shadow above became a pair of glittering fangs, just inches above my neck …
This was a dream I had after reading too much Dracula before bed. It was actually pretty scary at the time, and it went on a bit after this too – I got my blood sucked, and I became weaker, and was just lying around in bed missing days of work and study. And everyone thought I was so lazy, which goes to show that sometimes young people are genuinely misunderstood after all.
The reason I re-told the dream is that sometimes writing is a bit like this. It feels like a blood-sucking vampire. You come to the page, and you leave it drained of life and intelligence. Somebody asks you a question, and you reply:
“Duh … I dunno.”
And while you want to write something truly extraordinary, off-the-wall, and outrageously good, the only thing that is outrageous is that you are writing at all. What comes out feels like junk. I am normally 80,000 words into a novel before I feel like I have written something worthwhile.
(Incidentally, the reason I aim for something off-the-wall is that when you have no talent, the best thing you can do is write something scandalously unusual; then someone will still read it.)
However, there comes the day when after trying and trying, and drinking far too much coffee, and typing until your fingers are quite numb, and aggravating everyone who happens to live with you, you have followed the story through to the conclusion and penned the last sentence. And then the miracle happens: it feels whole. The reason for this is never quite clear – why should something feel complete only at such a given a time? Sometimes your plot is not complete when you feel you have finished. But instinct tells you that you have, just as you know once you have squeezed everything out of a pimple, that the pimple is – really, and rather unbelievably – empty.
You have written a novel. It is a busy novel, filled with the most crazy stuff, simply because you got terribly bored writing it. But you’ve actually done what you have set out to do.
I started with a dream I once had. The dream should have finished like this: you dash out of bed, almost knocking the nasty incubus over, and you flick on the light. And then you discover, hanging from the ceiling, the strings of the vampire that was about to eat you alive. It was a puppet all the while, and you were always in control.
So get writing.
© Yvette K. Willemse, all rights reserved.