So tomorrow I go back to full time work of the non-writing variety, and what I've been referring to in my head as the Funland Experiment will come to an end. Not quite the end I wanted - that, obviously, would have been getting the novel finished - but not a disastrous one by any means. The current word count is around the 87'000 mark, and I guesstimate there's another 15'000 or so to go. I hope I can do that by the end of the month, although I'm by no means sure. To give some context, I'm typing this in a B & B, since I've moved out of my Newcastle address but can't move into my new flat in Cheltenham until the end of the week. So there's still plenty to do, even aside from the day job. Frankly, I'm torn between wanting to wrap Funland up and the urge to put it aside for a little while until I've settled in. At the moment I'm edging towards getting it finished, but that plan may change quickly depending on how the next few days go.
Inevitably, I'm left to wonder if I did the right thing taking time off to write a novel. Perhaps equally inevitably, the best answer I can come up with is "yes and no". In retrospect, the experiment was flawed from the start: writing with the Sword of Damocles of unemployment and dwindling supplies of cash hanging over your head is less than conducive to the creative process. That's how it seemed at the time, anyway - most writers, professional or no, have worked with the risk of financial ruin at their back, so maybe it don't do as much harm as it seemed to. It'll be a long while yet before I can look at what I've done with anything approaching objectivity, but there's a fair chance that what I've produced is better than it seemed at the time.
Either way, I don't think this is something I'll try again any time soon. There are two main reasons: firstly, I think it's going to be well over a year now before I'm ready to start a new novel, and secondly, I came far too close to running out of money and having to hammer my savings. Getting a new contract took longer than I'd expected, and if I hadn't been relatively lucky it could have taken much, much longer. On the other hand, I hope that when the smoke's cleared I'll discover I've written something close to what I intended, in a quite solid first draft. To achieve the same around a day job would have taken a year or more. And there was something strange and eye-opening about having some sustained time off from work; I think I've gained a little perspective for doing it, and my 'to read' pile is definately much smaller. I certainly don't regret taking the opportunity - I just don't know if I'll have the nerve to try it a second time.