Sunday, 27 September 2015
Losing the Spark
My novel and I did a sort of "Ross and Rachel" earlier this year and went on a break. In fact it wasn't just my novel, I took a break from writing in general. No new chapters, very little brainstorming, no new blog posts and occasional tweets (most of which were linked to GAA). It wasn't a deliberate decision by any means, in fact I had planned 2015 to be my year to finally commit to the book especially after I finished the first draft back in February (a feat I thought I would never achieve). But fast forward 7 months later and the word count remained starkly unchanged while my motivation had dipped to levels below zero.
I'll hold my hands up and admit that I'm hugely disappointed with myself. I had promised myself that I would commit to the book this year, especially given that I knew I would have a lot more free time due to circumstances in my personal life. I suddenly had all this time in the evenings to myself that I could devote to working on my second (maybe even third) drafts while constantly developing the timelines of books two and three of the trilogy. I could easily slot in two three hours each night following through on my writing and I worked out that in eight weeks, if I stuck to my plan, I could have edited the entire first draft and added in the five chapters that have been floating around my head for months. So basically, I had a great plan. And then life happened and it all fell apart.
I really hate sounding dramatic (being mundane, vanilla, fading into the background is much more my style) but the last few months have been extremely challenging and difficult. Throughout my life, even when I look as far back to my childhood, writing has always featured in some way (whether it was writing Babysitters Club-esque stories in primary school, scribbling funny poems to entertain my classmates in secondary school, plotting a Lord of the Rings style fantasy novel when I was supposed to be studying for my Junior Certificate and planing my current novel when I should be paying more attention in work) and it has always been my crutch during periods of difficulty. But it was the first thing to leave me this year when things went south.
Writing a novel, an achievement that had seemed so tantalisingly close in February suddenly seemed so far away. And it wasn't just writers block or a lack of inspiration. I just had no interest in writing anymore. I didn't want to write. That magnetic spark that had ignited within me when I first dreamt up the idea for my book and when I finished my first draft had vanished. And I didn't have any interest or energy in finding it again. And so my first draft was locked inside my brand new, sparkling laptop and my brainstorming book lay closed on my desk in my office, occasionally noticed by me as I walked across the landing each night heading to bed. But I never crossed the threshold. It sat there, forgotten about, a story wanting to be told but there was no forum for that to happen because I had given up.
But it turns out that those awful, inspirational, cliched quotes that people share on Facebook and Twitter have some grain of truth in them.
Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Time heals almost anything.
I finally found my spark again.
It came back in several ways but most prominent of all was the increase in my creativity. The closed notebook on my desk began to become gradually more appealing. The manic scrawls from the past few years seemed exciting again. My special Paperchase writing pen was back between my fingers. The blank pages initially appeared intimidating and frightening but one idea became a sentence. And the sentence turned into a paragraph which then became a page. Before I knew it I had several pages of brainstorming in front of me including an ending to my novel which I've sought for 7 years now and a new character who is crucial to the development of the story. I can't imagine my story without her now. Okay, it means I have to change my first draft and rewrite the majority of it, but that's good! That's what being a writer is about. And finally, finally, I feel like I am a writer again.
I do find it interesting that one central theme of my book revolves around second chances and rebirth (the main image is that of a Phoenix) so there is definitely some irony now that I have been given a second chance to discover my love of writing again and my flair for it. Hmmm, "been given" seems like too much a passive phrase; I certainly didn't sit around waiting to feel better. Let's just say that I have taken my second chance and grabbed it with both hands.
I've learned a lot about myself over the past few months. It's a relief to know that the creative spark is still alive inside me and I know not to fear if it goes away temporarily. I think I had somehow convinced myself that the writer within me was a fraud, a delusion of grandeur and that the last few months have been my peak. But I know that's not true. I am a writer. I had a blip. I'll probably have one again. But my novel has more potential than ever, my passion for writing is back and my motivation levels are back to normal levels (I still love a bitta procrastination).
Oh and I learned that those god awful cliched quotes have an occasional grain of truth to them but don't expect me to start sharing them on my Facebook and Twitter pages. The day I start to do that is the day that you can all start worrying about me!