By the 20th of this month, it will be a year since I began my novel. At the time, I was only putting the very concept of my main character together; I knew what kind of person I wanted to create, but I didn’t exactly know what kind of struggle she was going to endure or who her friends and foes were. It took me about four months and seven versions or so of the early draft before I figured out where I wanted to take her and what I wanted her to achieve.
I’ve gone through quite a journey as a writer since then.
* There have been at least two longer periods when I didn’t write the story at all. Instead I wrote pages upon pages of notes, planned the plot, fleshed out the characters, meditated on different scenarios, and spent hours researching on the web or in the Park Library.
-> I also went as far as beginning the plot for the stories (novels) that will follow in the near future. During the editing process of this novel, I will already start typing Novel #2.
* In July, I created a diorama to organize my thoughts. Last month, I started a scrapbook. Those art projects made me indulge myself in the story and work further on world building.
* Many times, I’ve had to step back and consider how much I want to allow my own interests influence the story. I draw inspiration from every little thing I see, hear, experience and read. EVERYTHING. My point is that I don’t want to copycat anyone and lately, it’s been fun to experiment with other people’s ideas and to create something of my own.
->The initial inspiration for my protagonist, for example, was a particularly notorious detective from the BBC show Sherlock. As I figured out her background, I did my damnedest not to make simply a gender-bent Sherlock Holmes. I’m happy to report that none of my beta readers have guessed my hero’s origin.
* I’m the queen of metaphors and symbolism. After all the writing prompts, short stories, free writing and editing I’ve done over the past year, I’ve gotten better at not using those two instruments in abundance.
* Last spring, I showed the early drafts to my fellow writers in the creative writing class, and they performed some excellent surgery. Now I won’t lie to you, showing something that’s close to your heart to a room full of people is like sticking your head out of the window even though it’s raining; you will get wet and you might catch a cold. Their criticism helped me a lot, though, and I’m pretty sure I would have been at a loss for much longer if I hadn’t gotten some feedback.
Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” ~E.L. Doctorow
Yesterday I wrote 4,000 words for Chapter 10 (a.k.a. “the cursed chapter”), which I hadn’t touched for months until then, and it gave me an adrenaline rush you wouldn’t believe. For so long, I was afraid I had lost my main character’s voice (who narrates the whole story), but it was easy and comfortable walking straight back in and emerge myself in this evolving mystery, like putting on an old pair of boots.
I’m confident that this novel will be finished this year, maybe by the time summer strolls around, and I have a lot of people to thank for being able to do this huge project. Right now, however, I’d like acknowledge that if it wasn’t for the fact that I follow all these literary blogs and tumblr channels, I probably would have lost my drive. All the writing prompts and quotes I see on a daily basis really keep my creative juices flowing.
**This wouldn’t be a Writer’s Corner post if I didn’t have a bigger lesson at hand so to share some creativity tips I’ve picked up, I’ll post another entry later this evening.**