I think I’ve figured out why I’m struggling so much with my novel, when I have excelled previously even at the first draft stage. And I’m having a bit of an emotional crisis over it. It’s because I forgot what I was trying to sayyyy with this novel. Not literally. Not even ‘the moral of this story is X’. No, I need to ask myself:
Why am I writing this?
Earlier this evening I applied the spelling and grammar changes to “The Company Of One” and it dawned on me that I feel like I’m in the position I was before I wrote that script. And the reason I wrote it was abundantly clear once again: I need to make changes in my life in order to get my mental health under control. When I started writing the script, the change was getting over a toxic relationship. That filtered in throughout the planning stages and characters kept getting cut – in the end, Madison was brought in at the eleventh hour and became a huge part of the story. She even quoted something my ex used to say to me all the time (“You’re being unreasonable”) which I didn’t remember until the revision evening last week. That drive is ultimately, what made it a good story. I would be quite interested in seeing if the people who were in my immediate writing vicinity could tell that at the time.
But now, since moving, I’ve felt stagnant. And because I’ve been stagnant, my writing has become stagnant. (Just to clarify, this is not about Dan, I want to keep him around for a long time). To begin with, if you recall, there was all that early excitement to get things going, all the motivation and keenness to be writing the first draft. Then I got ~the job~ and with it came an almost literal shit storm, that has stopped me being excited about my new adventure in Wales and really, really homesick for Cornwall. In fact, the adventure aspect of our big move has disappeared completely. And thus, I feel like I have been writing for the sake of writing, and not for the sake of really saying something. Add that to the fact that between work and being home too tired from work and I have actually not done anything particularly new or exciting since we arrived. I’m not saying it’s awful here as a whole – and I really don’t want to moan about this amazing opportunity that we’ve been given – I think that being in such an unusual, unstable job with very little support for its staff as standard has kind of ruined our first few months here. I’m trying to find something else, as are the rest of the team it turns out, but no one wants 12 years experience and prior management training when they think I’m going to leave to pursue a different career. I mean it’s true but they don’t know that. They don’t even have access to my social media so how could they know that other than my masters qualification. I’ve rambled myself off track…
With the novel I’m trying to write about “Hey look a new adventure, yes Joelle missed her friends and her family back home but exciting and scary things are happening and she has new friends to help her get to the bottom of things” and instead I’m writing “Joelle was irritated and annoyed, she just wished that her new friends would leave her alone; she desperately wished she’d never come at all, and could spend the summer doing what she always did, hanging out with Sophie reading books and having pretend adventures. Real ones were much too scary for her”. LITERALLY ME.
That is not the book I want to write. And no eleven year old is going to be interested in that miserable rubbish.
I don’t want to write for the sake of writing. I want to write because I have something to say – something good and positive and hopeful.
Realising all this has helped me a lot. I’ve been struggling to write properly for weeks, since the work drama started to be exact (even though it’s had nothing to do with me directly, we can all see it’s had a big negative affect). And I have good days and bad days writing, and it’s still being done, I just feel like I need to figure stuff out in my own life. Again, I think it’s just work. I’m sort of stuck in a catch 22 with it, where I can’t afford to leave but staying is not really a long term option unless I transfer to the open spot in Truro and go back home. That is something I never thought I would want.
But not all hope is lost. I can figure this out and get back to it. I am really passionate about the novel overall, I just need to get my head in the game. Now I know what the problem is I can try to fix it. And hey, what else are first drafts for?
Don’t tread on the flowers.
Ps. The reason Annie Lennox is the featured image is because it’s a still from her “Why” video. I was originally looking for a picture from the Miss Saigon song “Why God Why” but I thought that would be a bit of a stretch. This is more obvious. And it has the word “why” on it. My humour is only funny to me I think.