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I started this writing blog back in 2013, to chart my progress in writing and (eventually) self-publishing my first Sam Plank novel, “Fatal Forgery”.  My aim was to impose some discipline on myself – it’s harder to slope off to the shops where you’ve promised to report back on how much you’ve written that day – and to share experiences with other amateur writers.  After all, writing can be a very solitary activity, and I know I sometimes wonder whether I am the only writer struggling with plotting or dialogue or marketing or whatever.  (Spoiler alert: I’m not.)

The point of all of this preamble is to remind you and me that I am resolved to be honest in this blog – there’s no benefit to be gained, for any of us, unless I tell it How It Is.  And at the moment, it’s painful.  Yes, I am lucky enough (amazingly lucky) to be able to take a fortnight off work and hide myself away in a private little apartment in Switzerland, with wonderful views and lovely walks.  I know that a retreat like this is beyond the reach of many, who have greater family commitments and more financial constraints than I do, and so I am not complaining.  I am simply saying that location and opportunity are no guarantee of good writing.

I have written about 85% of the words I need for “Plank 4”.  The Sam Plank novels are short – they seem to come out at about 62,000 words – so the end truly is in sight.  I have the plot all planned, so I know where I am going.  And despite my recent MacBook collapse, I have managed to scrabble back to about where I was, with only one complete chapter now to be retrieved from the dead-ish machine – and I can work around that, as I know what it is about, even if I can’t recreate it exactly.  But things are just not “zinging”.

I remember days when I couldn’t wait to get writing – when I had words tumbling out, desperate to be recorded.  But yesterday was not a day like that: it was hard work.  But the words have to be written, and to sustain myself I remember two things.  Firstly, this is why we have editing: as long as I get something down, I can polish it later.  You can’t edit nothing, so something is better than nothing.  And secondly, this is A Phase.  I remember it from when I was writing all three of the previous books, and interestingly it always hits at about the 80% mark – when I wonder whether this is actually not a very good story and perhaps I should start again.  (This is not a realistic option, as the unforgiving countdown on the left reminds me…)  So my remedy is this.  Later this morning I will drive down the mountain and treat myself to lunch, and allow myself an hour after that to gaze at the lake or mooch around the shops or eat ice-cream, or all three.  And then I will drive back up here, turn on the laptop and write.

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