It’s been a long year so far. We’ve had one family disaster after another and it’s rather knocked the stuffing out of me. I started the year full of enthusiasm for my new book. I’d got it to first draft stage – people were keen to read it and I was putting them off because I wanted to give it a good edit first. It was all very exciting.
But then life got in the way, and the emotional energy I need to write just got sucked away. I picked up that first draft again and again. I read it through and made a few notes, but I didn’t make the changes to my routine which I needed to get re-connected with it and get the edit done. It just languished. And the longer that went on, the worse I felt about it all.
This summer, after most of the family stuff calmed down, I took the first draft folder on holiday, but instead of editing it, I picked up a book, and then another. I read a great pile of brilliant stories by really talented authors, and felt a small spark. I wanted to write, but I didn’t want to edit.
I was sitting talking with my daughter when a helicopter flew over the villa where we were staying. I wondered out loud who was on board and where they were going. And as I said it I knew what I needed to do. I grabbed my notebook and started to write. With no plan and no safety net the words poured out of me, and two days later I had seventeen handwritten pages, one complete short story and a very clear idea of how I could make it much longer.
It felt really, really good.
But when we got home life got in the way again, and it wasn’t until last week, on a couple of long train journeys to book events, that I finally managed to get the new story typed up. I didn’t edit it much, just got it down, then printed it out and stuck it in a file. 6,200 words of brand new, unexpected story. I also read the brilliant On Writing, by Stephen King, a book where he shares how he writes books that I can’t put down.
I left the file out where my two main beta-readers could find it, and went to work. I tried not to think about it all day and didn’t mention it when I got home. Luckily I didn’t need to – my daughter leapt on me, demanding to know what happened next. My husband liked it as well, offering praise and some helpful criticism.
And that felt pretty good too.
My mind is whirring with possibilities for my new story – the places it could go, the characters I could build and the dire situations I could put them all in. I feel like a writer again.
November is fast approaching. I could see if I could get a first draft of the new longer version of the story during NaNoWriMo (November is National Novel Writing Month). Or I could return to the old one and edit it until it shines. Or I could write something else, something utterly new, with no safety net. The possibilities are endless now my writing mojo is back.