My manuscript is due on the first of November, which is not far away at all, though obviously further away than, say, tomorrow.
I have been powering through the book so far. It is on a topic I know a great deal about (so definitely not fame or money) and one that is very close to my heart (so definitely not country and western music). So far I have written up to two chapters a week, pouring my words into the keyboard much like Boo poured water into my keyboard just a few days ago (with, hopefully, less disasterous results).
Still, all good things must come to an end, and this week, my writing has done just that. Because I am stuck. At Chapter 19.
I can't tell you what Chapter 19 is about because it would spoil Chapters 1 through 18 for you. And besides, you'll see for yourself when you buy the book next May. Except that Chapter 19 may not be Chapter 19 by then. After editing it may be Chapter 18 or 20, or even Chapter 1, though that would be unfortunate, as it would disrupt the flow of the entire book. But still...
I can't write Chapter 19. I don't know why, but I can't. In fact, if I knew why, then possibly I would be able to write it, so perhaps not knowing why I can't write it is the key. All I know is that I've been trying to write it for a week now, and have come up with nothing more than a few shopping lists, a letter to my daughter's school about why she needed to be excused early on Wednesday, and a video blog on beauty tips (which - as I know as much about beauty tips as I do about country and western music - really shows I was scraping the bottom of the barrel).
I have asked my husband repeatedly for advice and he has been as close to useless as one can get. He told me to skip Chapter 19 and move straight on to Chapter 20, which is completely untenable as far as I'm concerned. For one thing, Chapter 19 comes before Chapter 20 (the fact that '19' comes before '20' is a dead giveaway) and so I can't write the latter before writing the former. For another thing, I am completely obsessive, and can think of nothing else until I squeeze Chapter 19 out.
I told my husband he had been very unhelpful and he just shrugged. "What would you have liked me to do?" he asked.
I didn't respond, as I was too cranky, and besides, I was still trying to compose the first sentence for Chapter nine-fucking-teen. But now, for his elucidation and future reference, I shall outline ways he could actually have helped me. For his convenience, they are ordered from least to most useful:
- Give me some writing exercises to get me inspired to write Chapter 19;
- Give me the first line of Chapter 19;
- Come up with an alternative to Chapter 19, for example 'Chapter 18.5';
- Write a letter to my publisher excusing me from having to write Chapter 19, for example 'The bunny ate Chapter 19;
- Write a letter to my readers excusing me from having to write Chapter 19, for example 'The book works far better without Chapter 19;
- Write Chapter 19 for me;
- Get Mark Dapin to write Chapter 19 for me;
- Burn the whole bloody manuscript and get me a job in a cake shop. I like cake.