In the writing process in these last few months, as I’ve been planning the longer term prospects for my series of fantasy novels, I have learnt that you need to be really stubborn to persevere with the entire process of being a writer. Sometimes you just have to force the ideas to come to you; my muse frequently leaves to go on vacation at awkward moments and comes back when the house isn’t clean, I need to go to work and until recently I really needed to get on with my university work instead. When the muse is away and you need to write, you just have to stubbornly persevere with the writing and the ideas. It takes practice but eventually knowing what to write next comes as second nature.
And then, you have to edit, a process that is completely different from writing. You aren’t creating anymore, you’re in a way destroying your work and putting it back together again in a smoother, more defined shape than the original composition. Trust me, you have to be stubborn with yourself to get through editing and you have to be tough. Any notions that you might have that writers are whimsical and dreamy, think again; to write means to edit, and to edit means being ruthless. To be a writer you have to be stubborn.
But not too stubborn. I’ve been working on my first novel of the series ‘The Phoenix Spell’, for years. In my previous post, The Inner Fear, I wrote about how my first chapter required work, which is an understatement. I was crushed at how bad my first chapter had been when I’d returned to it after years of not working on it. I’ve been working on my story for the last couple of months now as a rest bite from my dissertation, and in that time I’ve had several clear things in mind. I knew I had a slightly altered first chapter; I knew I had some better ideas about character development throughout the story; and I un-categorically knew where the story was going to end. I have been stubbornly working towards that end for years. Yesterday, when I was totting up the word count, I came to the conclusion that my ending is not the ending of my first book, but the ending of my second. Fantasy traditionally is a longer form of fiction; but there is long and then there is the possibility that in writing one book you’ve accidently written two.
The first half has a different tone from the second, it is a journey towards finding out what love is and understanding acceptance of one’s self. The second half, which is rougher, having only been written in its current form in the last few months, is how that acceptance transforms what my characters are willing to do and risk in the name of love. They are two different books, but it took me letting go of a little bit of stubbornness to admit that where I wanted by first novel to end isn’t where my first novel naturally ends.
So it’s good to be stubborn, but not too stubborn.