Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Monday 28 January 2013

99 Percent Perspiration

As far as the writing goes, being in the groove is a great feeling. Getting in the zone, writing for hours without noticing, the words spilling out without having to give them a second thought, focusing on nothing but the page is an amazing feeling.

That’s when I feel unstoppable. That’s when I feel as if I’m producing my very best work. The spirit is moving me, the muse is doing her thing, and all is right in my writing world.

This past week has not been like that.

This past week I’ve been struggling with a story. I’ve been scratching it out a paragraph at a time, and then working over the thing a sentence at a time to try to build a rhythm and a pace and get the thing working. It has been agony. I don’t know whether I’ve ever found a job quite so tricky.

Don’t get me wrong; it isn’t that I haven’t enjoyed it, and it isn’t that I didn’t know what I was doing. I had a plot, characters, a word count and deadline to work to. It was my usual job of work, and it shouldn’t have posed any problem I haven’t come up against before, but, somehow, it did. Somehow, I had the feeling that this wasn’t up to my usual standard, that somehow this story wasn’t really all that good.

Working with the husband is great fun, but it also adds an extra layer of pressure; there’s a lot to live up to when you collaborate with someone who has the sort of reputation that he has. I love it, but I also have a certain amount of trepidation about it. When it goes well, it gives me great confidence, but this wasn’t going well.

Eventually, of course, I had to show my efforts to the husband. He’d shown me his, and I had to show him mine; that’s the way it works.

It turns out that the best stories are not necessarily the ones that come most easily, after all.

The husband loves my story. He even said he thought it was my best so far.

I’ll take that.

It’s a good feeling, being praised, and I enjoyed it for all of five minutes, because it’s left me with the smallest problem. I never really minded the work when it was tough, when I did battle with it, because that was the price I paid for the ‘good’ days, but what if my ‘good’ days aren’t really that good? What if my rough days are my best writing days, after all?

That throws a whole new light on my writing life, and I’m not entirely sure what to think about it. I guess the only way to think about it is positively: my ‘good’ days are good for me and my ‘bad’ days are good for the work, but most of my days are somewhere in between, and isn’t that pretty much the same for all of us?

Yeah... I’m guessing it probably is. 


  1. If you having novel problems I feel bad for you son, I got 99 problems but perspiration ain't one :D

    Don't worry Nik, sometimes bad days =good writing and good days = bad writing. It usually depends on some factor you can't really predict or control, and the best you can do is just keep (admirably) powering through

  2. i have great respect for authors like yourself and your man Dan Abnett , i dabble a wee bit in metal art and when i get stuck i play some music to chill out before my head goes pop especially when things are not working out the way i hoped, i don't know what kind of music you like but i would recommend thomas bergersen, two steps from hell and future world music, they make epic music and it is inspiring,hope you don't mind me wittering on and look forward to reading more of your work soon, thank you.