Writing a book – the realism

Were you ever young and wondered were books really came from? How long did it take you to realise that it took endless, agonising hours for one individual to sit at a desk and type it all up, just for you to read?

For me, it took far too long.

I remember the first book I read interdependently: Darren Shan’s Cirque Du Freak. This is the novel that gave me a desire to do this on my own. I sat there and thought “I can do that!”, so, like the young naive, not even a teenager idiot that I was, I wrote a story about a boy with snake scales who scoped around a city, which of course, was far too similar to a book I’d just read, but that’s needed.

It took countless ideas, multiple jumps of joy as a new idea popped into my hair, only to get to a thousand words and get bored, and finally, something clicked: it’s not as simple as having an idea and away you go.

Oh no, it demand blood. And depression. And every ounce of hope that you have just to get a plot down. My writing got better, I began to plan fully, I lived for the new worlds I created just for me, but they never seemed to stick. Yes, I enjoyed them, yes, I miss the days when all I cared about was getting home from school and sitting down at my desk, but it never got me anywhere.

Until one day, in 2013, when I was running home in the rain, and an idea dropped into my head as a tiny droplet of water gave me the ideas I needed. I’m not going to tell you what the idea was (yet), but I can say it’s the only idea that has stuck with me all these years.

I pondered the thoughts for hours that night, already having a developed plot in my head, and the next day, I got to work – my method is to write a full A4 page of hat I think happens at the start, that way I can filter out what works and what doesn’t, what needs tweaking and what has potential, but it still wasn’t enough, I needed more planning, more driving force for the protagonist, an obstacle only he could over come: a plot with meaning.

Now, seven years down the line, one overly rushed first draft and countless rewrites, I finally gave in, and did what I should have done almost seven years ago – plan EVERY tiny detail, down to the last bullet point. And here’s how it goes.

Call this my timeline of a downward spiral of mental state:

  • have an idea
  • Create the characters
  • Set the scene
  • Create a justifiable ending
  • Figure out how they got to that point
  • Create realistic relationships between characters
  • Go far too in-depth about the backstory of a dog that appears in one scene
  • begin to like the book
  • read some back only to realise you hate the book, and yourself
  • Question why you do this to yourself
  • Do it all again
  • Find reasons not to write even though you always say “I really need to finish writing” (Oh really, Liam? Then why are you writing this blog post?…. shut up)
  • Cry

 

And here we are. Hating every inch of the novel, craving to find something new to write, just a little something to “get you back into the habit”, only to find yourself back at that idea. And that’s the most important part. It stick with you.

Think of it like a leaf; it’s there on that tree, you know what it looks like, it’s green, with a hint of autumn orange. Turn away for one second, only to look back and the leaf is gone. Now, you see another leaf, it’s a similar colour, if not a bit more withered, but you like it, it has potential, until all you can think about is how much fresher that last leaf seemed, and it falls,  and all of a sudden, that one leaf you began with is back on the tree, and that’s all you can look at.

It’s a cringe worthy analogy, I know, but you get my point. A bit of advice: NEVER disown an idea that follows you everywhere. If it stick, it must be something. It might be a disaster, but it’s yours, and yours to write. Who else is going to do it?

 

 

So, I’ve realised that I’ve written more words on this post than I’ve written on my novel in, what, a week? Heh… Practice what you preach!

 

It’s Been a While

It’s been some time, hasn’t it?

This blog has truly lived up to its name of being “dormant”, but here’s hoping it’ll all change!

These past few months have reminded me why I write; it isn’t just about telling a story, or how much I love it, it’s also a distraction. I need not remind you that the world is burning. Writing, for me, allows me to live somewhere else, even for a short while – just like reading, only, this is my world.  When reading, you’re living someone else’s tale, but when you’re filling in a blank page, there’s just something special about finding yourself lost in your own narrative.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that writing was a good was to tackle mental health. Like a lot of people, I long for the distraction, just to feel better about taking another breath, and suddenly, after all these years, I finally found something that makes me feel good about myself – my novel.

For those of you that have had the awful pleasure of following my blog, you’ll know that I’ve been working on a book for SEVEN. LONG. HAUNTING. DRAINING. YEARS. and though I start over again and again, I find myself coming back to that one story, no matter how many new ideas I seem to pen down. There’s just something special about it, something that feels like me. And that’s what I long for.

My advice? If you’re constantly finding yourself starting a new project time after time, and never really sticking to just one, then stop. Pun down the pen, close down the word document. And breathe. You’re forcing yourself to find that next best thing, only to find you’re not proud of it, buy a new notebook and start over.

You need to find that one story that just sticks with you, almost like a bond. Like the bond you have with your pet; unconditional. You should be drawn to your story, you should want to know exactly who lives where, why they got there, where they’re going, everything! Only when you feel that, can you truly be proud of what you’ve done. Otherwise, you’re just writing because it’s something else to do.

 

You’ll get there. And when you do, no one can tell you to stop.

Pushing through that second draft

Now, if you’ve followed my confusing, babbling posts, you’ll know that I write, or at least, I claim to.

We all know how daunting it is to finish that first draft, but if you have pushed through that final page, you’ll know just how bitter-sweet a feeling it is.

Now, there’s no shame in admitting defeat at this point. What you’ve created is something incredible, but I struggle to even think about that second draft. Time and time I try, and time and time again I hate myself for writing such rubbish, even if it’s not.

Do you constantly have that urge to start over? Tell yourself that a fresh start is probably better than editing? Well stop with that thought. Don’t touch your novel for a day or two from this moment, and just think about it. Speculation of your work is far greater than reading through it over and over, spotting tiny errors, building a false impression that your time as wasted.

Once time has passed, after thinking abou your story, go back to it, and force yourself to fall in love with that scene, with those characters, with your work. Then, you’ll find yourself twitching to bsck into your weird little world, and crwtate something you can finny say you’re proud of.

Defining a writer

There’s nothing more painful than reading success stories, while your unfinished project remains open for the fifth year.

It’s probably best not to read into how J. K Rowling’s success came out of the blue, but I suppose there’s some inspiration to take from it. After all, if we don’t believe we can get somewhere, then there’s no point in doing anything at all.

I’m forever flicking through countless articles of what makes a writer a true writer, but in all honest, most of them are filled with over the top money making schemes that takes away what is essential in the art of writing – personality.

What is the point in trying so hard to work out the ways of the novel? What do we benefit from taking lessons on how a certain character should act? Not much, in my opinion. There’s a delicacy involved when creating your own world. It is literally taking a part of your self, and bleeding it into electronic ink so finely, that you can call it your own. Taking away the creativity and adding in structured lessons you found online, is just taking away what makes you a true writer.

Yet, there are other issues I need to face other than originality. Patience and determination is just a few amongst dozens of others. But perseverance is the most important. One day, I’ll get there, and I’m sure it will be awful and lacking of all correct structure and dialogue. But it will be mine, a part of me that I plucked out so carefully, and crafted it into something worth my own time.

As usual, I’m babbling, but I hope there some form of clarity to be found. Don’t define your stories based on what other deem useful. Write about what you want, not what you think is essential.

Nothing Feels Right

Nothing feels right,

My clothes feel like skin that shouldn’t be there.

The air feels intrusive like microscopic invaders,

Nothing feels right.

I don’t want to open my eyes and see my life broken into hours,

Nor do I want to fall asleep and enter a new world with the same horrors.

Today is a new day, only with added memories,

And even those don’t feel like my own.