Diary of a Literary Commitment-Phobe

MizmazeIt’s a little bit like falling in love, writing. Previously I’ve been pretty promiscuous; I love the instant gratification of short stories and think of your own metaphor for Flash Fiction. There’s that initial wow; that frenzied excitement, the high of the idea.

But now I want a proper relationship, a novel, something long-term. This requires investment and commitment, so I’ve decided on 1000 words a day. Depending on my mood, this has been beautifully flowy or an angry argument.

Then earlier in the week I came to the ‘I’m not sure if this is working’ stage. ‘Do I even like you?’ I asked my draft. I was enjoying the parts set in the present with a first-person voice, they’re immediate and easy to connect with but the third-person 90s sections felt like a soap opera; too mundane, too real.

Last night I decided to end it; it was over. If I was finding elements of my work tedious how could I possibly impose it on a reader? I started considering other half-written novels I could dust off, get back in touch with. Interestingly my other ‘big’ projects all also stopped around the 10,000 words mark.

Then this morning I had a revelation. Blam! If what I was enjoying about my story is the present first-person voice then why didn’t I write it mainly that way, just include more viewpoints. I immediately started hearing voices for the two other central characters. I got all fluttery about William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. Now that is a book full of fascinating people. And back to our MA’s reoccurring fairy-tale style; the past is a fairy tale so I could tell it like that, taking a steer from The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye by A. S. Byatt.

I was giddy. It was back on, oh yes!

Then this evening, when I was wasting time on Twitter, I saw Claire Fuller’s current post about dual and multiple narratives: http://clairefuller.co.uk/2015/05/28/writing-dual-narratives/ . Very useful advice!

Finally, I need to learn to shut my mouth. Pitching and talking about my idea has slightly damaged it. It’s a dream growing in my head, a bit special, and needs to be nurtured, not dissected over coffee, like a latest conquest.

We’re not in love yet, but we’re back to holding hands. When we’re not screaming at each other in the supermarket.

Kath Whiting
MA Creative & Critical Writing
Also posted on http://kathwhiting.blogspot.co.uk/

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