We asked Damien Seaman how he ended up inviting writers to the Italian countryside for some serious writing time in the first place…
How my dark week of the soul could help you fix your crappy novel (no offence)
By writing blogger and hotelier Damien Seaman
If you’re of a literary bent and you’ve ever had the feeling of bashing your head against a brick wall, congratulations. You must have written a novel.
Or attempted to write one, at any rate.
Why do we fools do this to ourselves?
Take my head-bashing story…
Three months, it took me. To struggle through writing the first half of the first draft of what remains my only full-length novel.
And then came my dark night of the soul.
More like a dark week, actually.
A week of crapping my pants
I reached the half-way point of the manuscript and got stuck.
Like, really stuck. Pants-crappingly I’m-a-shit-writer-why-can’t-I-ever-get-one-of-my-stupid-ideas-to-work-out? stuck.
The ending I’d had in mind just would not work. It refused. Downed tools and went on strike.
Whatever I did to change the perspective, I could not make the events of the book hold together in a way that concluded satisfactorily.
So I took a week off work and wandered around the house. Outside the house, too. Up and down the side of the local canal. Morning, noon and late at night.
This was some serious shit.
I would never make it as a writer. I was kidding myself. I didn’t have the talent. Or the skill. Or whatever.
Whatever a writer needs. I did not have that.
Panic? Yes, you could call it that.
But at the end of my week of furious pacing, I had my ending right in my mind. Somehow. Don’t ask me how, cause I couldn’t tell you.
The threads lead where they ought, though. And at that point, it took only three weeks to write the second half.
That’s the thing with plotting a novel. Devilish difficult, no?
I mean, I wasted a whole week of my free time just to wear a hole in my shoes because I was stuck writing a book no one would read.
Not writing, mind you. Just pacing. And thinking.
Talk about mad.
You don’t have to suffer like I did
Well, now that I’m co-running a small hotel in northern Italy, I haven’t forgotten those dark, dark days.
Nor the fact that it had taken me three years of stopping and starting and researching and abandoning book ideas before I’d got far enough into writing one to even have my dark week of the soul.
The real madness is that I did not have to go through all of this. There is always a simpler way.
If you have the humility for it.
I’m talking about asking someone else for help.
Another writer or a writing tutor, that is.
I mean, your significant other might be lovely and cuddly and supportive. But what do they know about writing?
Your parents? They’re still mad at you for not becoming a doctor.
And your kids? Please. Those guys are just idiots.
No, let’s be real for a moment…
All work and no play making your novel a dull read?
“I have written two novels to date, one of which I think may have some mileage but with necessary revisions to the plot and central character but not sure how to effect these changes…” one woman from Scotland told me in a recent email.
“…am on my second novel but stuck on it!” wrote another.
Aside from both feeling stuck with their novels, these women have something else in common.
They’re coming along to our trouble-shooting retreat this October to solve their writing woes.
Do you feel this way about your current work in progress?
You’re likely too close to it to see the problems. Much less how to solve them.
The good news is that you don’t have to go round in circles. Or start chasing your family with an axe, like Jack Nicholson in that Shining movie…
Instead, creative writing tutor, author and publisher Amanda Saint has crafted this exclusive writing retreat in Italy. To help you…
- See and solve your story issues
- Grip your reader and never let go
- Create characters that leap off the page
- Develop the right pace for your story
- Write the very best version of the book that’s inside you
The two women I quoted above will be there to work through the problems with their novels.
They’ll be joined by a half dozen other authors. All of them looking to get that breakthrough in their work. And to get to know other aspiring novelists – just like you.
If you’re interested, check out the details here: https://albergoleso.com/escape
And, if you’re a Skulk member, you can also get 10% off the price.
(The details for the discount are on the skulk members page)
Damien Seaman is a restaurateur and hotelier in training in the mountains above Verona, where he day dreams of working in a shitty office. He also interviews authors and publishers and puts the results on his blog.