Updated: Mar 9
WRITING MY FIFTH NOVEL
A couple of weeks ago, I tentatively shared a couple of ideas about my new novel with a friend and was faced with perplexed stares and strong opinions, which shook me more than I cared to admit at first.
I was in the midst of creating my new podcast, The Creativity for All Podcast, and had no idea whether it would work (and still don't). In hindsight, I probably wanted to make sure that my writing wasn't falling by the wayside while I was in full 'podcast mode'.
I normally don’t share my ideas so early in the writing process (even less so with friends who haven't read any of my stories) and now I remember why. At this point in the writing process, most of my ideas are in my head still, slowly taking shape. They're not on paper yet and, crucially, they're likely to change repeatedly, before I even write and, even more, so when I'm writing. For all I know, in a month's time, I might ditch the main topic altogether and choose to focus on something else entirely.
That day, I wanted to talk about my writing, because I seldom do. I wanted to share the excitement of a new story shaping up in my head, of being in that space where I get to play with ideas, where I start imagining my characters and the dynamic between them. It's also been four years since I last wrote a novel (the longest gap since I first started writing fiction), during which I edited and rewrote Not to Hold and my second novel in French.
Editing is crucial to the writing process, it's the opportunity to chase typos, sharpen my style, remove content and rewrite the same sentence three, four, five times, where necessary. When I'm editing mode, I cannot read a novel, or any book for that matter, because the minute I see words on a page, I start editing them! Even the menu at the restaurant will get the editing treatment (and more often than not, deserves it, especially when French is used).
It's particularly satisfying to see my text shaping up, to loose the ''fat'', to learn how to convey ideas, emotions and reactions in a more subtle way, to remove any writing tics (yes, we all have them and search/replace is by far the most useful Word function ever devised), yet editing is not creating.
I shared my ideas about my new novel too early, because I wanted to remind myself that I am a writer first and foremost and of my commitment to my writing practice. While it's wonderful to receive external support and encouragement, at the end of the day - or, more accurately, at the start of a writing session - what I need the most is to listen to, and trust, my writer's instinct.
At this point, were I to openly submit my ideas to ten people, I would get ten different views on them. I could analyze those to death, weighing the pros and cons, but would still be missing the point. The creative writing process is a deeply internal one and is, in its infancy, at its most fragile and therefore needs nurturing.
Writing is an act of faith. Faith in one's own ability to develop a story, starting with a seed, a thought that might seem fleeting at first, faith in one's own ability to flesh out characters and craft a satisfying end. And, crucially, faith in the process itself. While I was busy creating my podcast, I stopped listening to my writer's instinct. Fortunately, writing this post has reminded me that it's still there and is my best ally.