September 16, 2011

Death By Chapter 19

Many of you will know that I am currently writing my second book, the title of which is not 'When My Husband Does The Dishes...' because I have used that one already. Also, the book is not about my husband, or dishes (though the former may get the occasional mention).

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:
  1. Give me some writing exercises to get me inspired to write Chapter 19;
  2. Give me the first line of Chapter 19;
  3. Come up with an alternative to Chapter 19, for example 'Chapter 18.5';
  4. Write a letter to my publisher excusing me from having to write Chapter 19, for example 'The bunny ate Chapter 19;
  5. Write a letter to my readers excusing me from having to write Chapter 19, for example 'The book works far better without Chapter 19;
  6. Write Chapter 19 for me;
  7. Get Mark Dapin to write Chapter 19 for me;
  8. Burn the whole bloody manuscript and get me a job in a cake shop. I like cake.


  1. Chapter 19 - The Nutella Diaries

  2. 9. buy me expensive chocolate to down chapter 19 in

  3. Long time blog stalker.. first time commenter (i think)

    I feel your pain.. I'm attempting to finish a PhD by the end of the year.. and the fact that my dearest daughter, who's three, asks me every-single-flipping-nite if its christmas yet just isn't helping!

    I find procrastination helps.. well actually it doesn't but it give you something else to do until the sound of the deadline is a freaking freight train and then you HAVE to write the damn thing.. that or chocolate or even a stiff drink.. or maybe a chocolately stiff drink? or is that something more for your hubby :P

    I'm impressed you've pumped out chapters 1 - 18.. I only have 9 and I'm struggling.. though that's partially cos I have to *DO* the work to write about LOL

    Sincerely yours,
    Trapped in Chapter 7!

  4. A message from your UK publisher. Get on with it, slacker.

  5. Chapter 19 - How not to write Chapter 19. Or "Favourite Cake Shops".

  6. Dear UK publisher,
    Yeah yeah. You know you love me.

  7. Hello!!!!
    Yeah, Chapter 7 is a bitch, too. But you are doing great! Only 2 to go!! Tell your daughter that Christmas only comes for supportive little girls who bring Mummy chocolates and alcohol every night as she writes her thesis. That should help.
    K xxx

  8. I can't help but feel that you are a writer and not a numbers gal. Just skip number 19 and go straight to number 20. What would it matter!? x

  9. LOL Wrote my book completely out of order, never struck Writers Block. I wrote what suited me that day. Oh and it was an Organising book too, LOL.
    But I am the anti organising organiser afterall

  10. My advise, just write. Don't worry about what you are writing, just write something. If that doesn't work, then drink...lots! Chapter 19 might be at the bottom of the bottle!
    Hell, what am I giving you advise for. I have a half written book that I haven't worked on in months. Me thinks deadlines may be a good thing!

  11. Ouch. Ok. This is my advice. Go back to Chapter 13. Call it chapter 14, and move every other chapter up one. You know, some hotels and buildings don't have a 13th floor. Well maybe this book shouldn't have a 13th chapter.

    Then Chapter 19 will become Chapter 20. Which we know, is going to be MUCH easier to write.
    It'll start a trend, this new funky thing happening authors do....

    And you will give me a large print (signed) copy of your new book and thank me for my stroke of brilliance that let you push through the writers' block. Maybe even dedicate it to me.

    ANd you'll tell your publisher it was me. And he will come and BEG me to write a book. ANd then you will cure MY writers' block just as swiftly as I came in and bid yours adeiu.

    You're welcome.

  12. Ooh. The OCD girl in me wants to stab you with something very, very rusty.

  13. I lvoe you Erica. Just because now I know I'm not the ONLY one mocking her about her husband's girly taste in drinks. Which will now save me that awkward moment after I press 'send' on every one of those jokes where I'm sure she's thinking "Who TF is this woman and why does she have NO other material to work with????".

    Thank you. You're my new hero.

  14. Chapter 19 - ode to Simon Baker (followed by topless photos). 

  15. Agree. Who the hell would even notice?

  16. LOL... I wish!

    Or...we could trade.. I could write your chapter 19 and you could write my thesis :P... know anything about computers?

  17. well all that comes to my mind is that the no 19 is a special number in my household, being that i'm born on the 19th, i got married on the 19th, my father in laws bday is on the 19th and he was a very special man. So maybe think of chapter 19 as being a special number and so this chapter might be extra special too.
    does that help at all. probably not...i tried.
    love ya xxxx

  18. Kerri, don't HAVE any chapters. That way, no one gives a shit. They just keep turning the pages, totally oblivious to where they are. Perfect......  

  19. You're going to have to skip # 19 now, Kerri. Just to annoy Mel. x

  20. MeMeMeMeMeMeMeMeMe I would notice! It woudl make me crazy! And (other than the last chapter which I have to read first) I wouldn't be able to finish the book!

    You are both very mean. I used to like you but now I'm not so sure.....

  21. You are writing 2 chapters a week?! 2. Chapters. A. Week. *beats head against wall*  oh my self loathing is compounding at this moment. I'd love to comment on the entire blog post but I am still stuck at third paragraph and the "two chapters a week". I'm off to get a Gin, it's 10am.  TWO CHAPTERS A WEEK?!

  22. Chapter 19 will be your finest chapter.  I know that as much as I know this is the first time I have not tried to be as funny as you in a comment.

  23. DO what I do when I get stuck on something. Ignore it. Have a wine. Eat something with lots of sugar in it. Blame husband for ANYTHING he does in the ensuing 24 hours. Cry on the phone to anyone who will listen. Status update it. Tweet it. Blog about it. Oh. Tick. Then outsource. Done....

  24. Ok. I am just sour. .. I never finish. ... so well done for the first book.

    I think you need to clear the mind. ... You have been blocked because you have two contradictory directions you want to go... cancelling each other out. ... the original and a new direction... somewhere in the. .... other part of you... you need to listen to the you that that looks in. .. not the you that looks out. ... walk. ... and listen. ... maybe walk to the cake shop. xo

  25. "What would you have liked me to do?" is probably the most useless question in the history of questions, it highlights inadequacies in the asker that may have gone unnoticed until now.  And, if you have to ask, well actually it's just best not to ask...... 

    I find wine gives me more inspiration than cake, perhaps you should try that.

  26. Yeah, I think that you really made a good list of what he might have done to help you...:)

  27. Knowing nothing about writing books, here's my most likely unhelpful advice: write out your shopping list (ok, maybe not your shopping list, but anything that comes to mind in relation to the book) and edit the crap out of it until it looks like what you imagine Chapter 19 to be.

  28. Well yeah, but you know... now I'm stuck...


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