Having not written a WoW post in three weeks, I’m feeling more than a little guilty.
So what have I been doing?
My step back from writing Everborne turned more into a leap away—the kind one might take from a sinking ship. The waves of despair have a strong pull. For the first half of the month, I did little to fight them.
In short, I began looking at alternatives. My despair had reached the point that I no longer believed in what I was doing; I felt I’d failed—that Everborne was a failure—and that I needed to distance myself from that as quickly as possible. I was worrying about money and comparing myself to others too much. Worst of all, though, was I had been stripped of my belief; I felt a huge amount of shame for what I was doing with my life. So I started looking for part-time and full-time jobs.
All I was really doing was avoiding my problem with Everborne. (I like to think unintentionally…) I was listening to my head far too much, while not at all to my heart. The time I was putting aside for my book writing was minimal, leaving myself with only a handful of hours at the end of a day or two in the week. (I spent most of these watching Brandon Sanderson’s excellent lectures on YouTube.) This led to only more despair, as I’d give myself time to think about an issue but not time to resolve it.
I was not sleeping well.
The turning point in my amateur-writer’s-mini-mid-career-crisis came when I spoke to my parents. I told them how I was feeling and what I was thinking. As always, they were incredibly supportive. They told me that if I didn’t want the past nine-months to be a waste then I should carry on.
Before they even said that, though, I knew it’s what I wanted to do. It was the song in my heart, the one I hadn’t been listening to.
Talking to them also helped me realise that I shouldn’t compare myself to others. My goal is individual to me; how I achieve it will be different to how other people achieve their own. I also checked my bank account and afterwards felt rather silly. I saved to be able to do this, and I’m in the fortunate position that I don’t need to worry about my finances just yet.
Underneath everything was the old classic: the only thing stopping me was me.
My parents’ encouragement, support and love, along with Emily’s own unfaltering supply, meant I had the backing of three of the most important people to me. Now that’s how you get your belief back.
You don’t need to tell me how fortunate I am.
I came to the realisation that if I wanted to be serious about becoming a published author then I would have to take knock backs like these in my stride. I can’t let them stop me. I have to move on, one step at a time, one after the other. I’m never going to make it if I don’t. If I did stop then, as my parents rightly said, I’d only regret it.
Just because Everborne might not be going to plan that doesn’t mean I stop working on it. My heart is telling me that maybe my original concept was too ambitious for a first time writer, so I have made the decision (for now at least) that I would rather follow just one of the original five narratives, albeit altered to suit a one-narrative story.
That’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m working with three ideas at the moment—a supernatural thriller; a post-apocalyptic; and a fantasy—and I’m going to develop them alongside each other and see where they go, before picking one and going ahead with that. I feel strongly about two of them at the moment, but we’ll see what happens. I may even have a fourth idea, or a fifth!
Each idea links to Everborne, albeit some in more ways than others. The fortunate thing about my over-ambition was I had a lot of ideas, which leaves me with a good source to work with. It feels so good to have ideas again, even if they’re not fully formed, and to know that I’m working on fixing my problems. The belief has been rekindled, I now just have to fan the flames.
While I develop these ideas I’m also going to read more widely for other author’s approaches to writing. Watching Sanderson’s online lectures has been a great help to me, and that’s after studying my Bachelor’s and Masters. As much as I loved my time at Kent, my course did have the aftertaste of Marmite: while I loved some aspects of it, I hated others. This isn’t really me unlearning what I’ve been taught, but rather gaining a more rounded view on writing.
After a bit of research, I went ahead and ordered these books, which I will soon digest:
I also have Stephen King’s excellent On Writing, which may be worth a re-read.
I’m not expecting these books to fix all my problems, or to write my story for me. My only hope is that by reading them I will gain that more rounded view on writing, and that I will find nuggets of advice that I can apply to my developing ideas. As Sanderson said when he was talking about plotting, the different formats are a toolbox, they’re not a guide.
I’m away next week to the North York Moors, so I’m looking forward to being able to relax—it’s come at a much needed time. I’ll be taking the behemoth The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss with me, which I’ve been saving especially for this occasion due to its size (1008 pages!). My nerd juices are already flowing!
When I return, I’m going to begin writing daily again, at least 500 words a day. While my ideas are still forming, I’ll write an exercise that is only intended for my eyes, one I won’t allow myself to edit or look up fancy synonyms for: it’ll just be writing, writing, writing. I will also crack on with those aforementioned books and make any helpful notes, whilst developing my story ideas and seeing where they will take me.
[Chichester cathedral, as seen from the canal—a view I soon hope to call “local”.]