Monday, 12 January 2015

It All Started with a Green Notepad

Monday, 12 January 2015

My writing journey began with a little lime green notepad, hidden under tables at restaurants and other family occasions, a pen in my hand, making up stories. I still have that green notepad, and even though the writing in it is awful, I could never get rid of it, because that is where my love for writing began. That was when I was ten years old, and ever since I have been completely addicted to writing stories. 

Gradually, I began plotting longer stories, and started saving them in folders on my computer. I’ve never ever deleted a story idea document from my computer, so languishing in the ‘Others’ folder are the discarded stories from my younger years. I look back at them from time to time, and realise how far my writing has come in the last eight years. 

For many years, I was stuck in a continuous cycle of coming up with an “absolutely amazing idea!” which I would write a couple of chapters for and then give up on. In 2012 I decided to change that. Instead of targeting the elusive novel, I decided to try and write a novella. I started writing it in May and by the end of September I had finished at 38, 400 words, by far the longest piece I had completed. This was probably one of the best moves I could have made, as I felt one step closer to reaching my goal of finishing a novel. 

I started studying A-Level psychology, a subject which greatly interested me. Then, one lesson we watched the film A Beautiful Mind which tells the true story of how mathematician John Nash battled schizophrenia. It is still and probably always will be one of my favourite films. I had never felt so inspired. 

Six months later I had completed my first novel, The Water That Sings in January 2014. The book tells the story of Anna, and how she copes with being diagnosed with schizophrenia shortly after her father is killed in a tragic car accident. It is written from the points of view of three characters, which was challenging but I felt necessary in order to show not only how the schizophrenic copes but how the illness affects their family and friends. This is a very important book to me. I feel very passionately about reducing stigma for mental illness and improving the healthcare provided for patients. We have come a long way in the last fifty years or so, but there is still a long way to go. 

Thrilled with this achievement, and on a bit of a writing buzz, I wrote my second novel in less than two months during the summer of 2014. This book was very different, a dystopia action thriller called The Day It Rained, which I really enjoyed writing. 

This sudden ability to actually finish writing a novel didn’t come out of nowhere though. I found the formula that works for me. Prior to writing The Water That Sings I hardly planned at all. I would come up with an idea and start writing it without really thinking about where the plot was heading. In the end, I would always end up giving up on the project. I tried something different with The Water That Sings, and planned properly before I started writing. Not all writers find planning helpful, some people prefer to free write, but I had discovered the key for me to be able to write a novel. 

And where do I stand now? I’m currently editing The Day It Rained and planning the next two books in the trilogy. If all goes to plan I should have finished the second and third books by the end of the year. I’m also hoping to begin seeking representation from an agent so I can begin looking at getting published. 2015 has a lot in store for me, and I’m hoping this blog will help motivate me to achieve my goals.


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