So the writing was going well, and I was giving myself smug pats on the back for having produced about 45,000 words (which I knew needed heavy editing, but stuff was being committed to paper). Then I stopped, took a step back and realised my argument didn't work. In fact, I was making about four arguments, and slipping in and out of all of them in different chapters. My chapter outline looked so neat and achievable on a digital A3 diagram, but when I started writing, it went horribly pear shaped. I knew it, but it took me months to accept it. As a smart man used to comment when I was labouring over piece of awful artwork: "there's no use flogging a dead horse."
So. I had a little cry, raged about a bit, drank a lot of wine and now I'm ready to start over. As Kate suggests, a metaphor is a helpful way to understand the bigger picture. And so it goes like this:
I'm standing in a fully stocked kitchen, but I don't know what I want to cook. Cooking by putting everything I like into one pot will not produce an edible meal. The ingredients have to be selected because they 'work' together. Once I decide what I want to make, there will be a lot of unused ingredients, but that's ok, I can use them to make something else later. (Or they might go off and I'll just have to throw them out). Everything I need is here, I just have to choose a recipe.
As I was staring at my keyboard and thinking it's ok, it's ok, it's ok, the computer spoke to me ... surely I can't be the first person restarting a writing project who has noticed these keys, telling me what to do:
Either that, or this is the point the psychologists will flag as when I "crossed the line".