The first pang of growth pain that I felt as a writer was with The Runaway Courtesan
. For almost four years now, I worked on TRC, and while I revised the story several times, the original structure of the story remained. The very story I wrote at eighteen
was the very story I was fixing by the age of twenty-one
. It was only a year later that I realized that this was a problem. It’s like a twelve year old trying to squeeze her feet into the shoe that she wore at the age of three. Just as the passing of time made her feet grow, time has made me grow psychologically and intellectually—especially after entering into university.
Somehow I didn’t realize this – trying to squeeze feet into an infant’s shoe – was what I was doing. But it was. I would read over TRC, feel a deep sense of dissatisfaction, but no matter how much I tweaked the story, I would still remain dissatisfied. And yet I remained wilfully blind to the answer of what I had to do with the manuscript.
I love the story; don’t get me wrong—I’ll still cry as I read Amanda and Lucas’ story. And though the second half of the story needs to be worked on I’m happy with it, and it’s most likely because I wrote it when I was older. Others noticed this too. They say the story blooms in part two. But in the first half, there was something about the character’s personalities, their thought process, their belief system….that was somehow immature.
Our Writing Group
It didn’t dawn me until my editor Kerrie told me that a rough draft is a rough draft. A rough draft is getting to know your characters. From there you write from scratch. I’m sure it differs from other writers, especially those who have written several books before and are now able to write a decent first draft. But what Kerrie told me was something I needed to be told. For four years I was clinging onto the words written by an eighteen year old. There were so many memories attached to my original draft that I ignored the obvious: Rewrite. The past agent interested in my work asked me to rewrite. The rewriting I thought I was doing was actually tweaking.
The second pang of growth pain hurt much more than TRC. With TRC I was more excited than agonized by the thought of rewriting. The acknowledgement that I needed to rewrite the first half of the story from scratch was liberating. But this second growth pain occurred recently as I was trying to get back into working on book 2: Fall of the Sparrows.
After two years of studying English Literature, it’s difficult to look at writing the same way. For nine years I’ve loved writing romance. For nine years I’ve loved writing flowery prose. For nine years I’ve loved writing in chronological order. But after reading and falling in love with contemporary lit – I found myself writing the old way that I do while glancing longingly at the writing style that is minimal, “indifferent and impartial” (as Sapphire put it), and a story with a broken timeline, and a romance that doesn’t always work out, or is an un-romanticized romance, or where romance is minimal and the focus is on other issues in humanity.
Not that the said attributes are what constitutes modern literature per se. But, nevertheless, I’m coming to find the qualities of modern/post-modern literature more and more attractive. And this thought frightened the heck out of me for some odd reason. The thought of me departing from the romance genre. The thought of me trying to break away from a writing style that suited me as an eighteen year old. I guess the fear came in part from me questioning myself—if I could actually succeed in this different realm of writing.
But I’m all good now. I think I was doubting myself because I hadn’t been writing for so long because of school. Now that I started writing again, the question of how I’m to write doesn’t matter so much anymore, but rather, my focus has returned to: I love writing so much that as long as I can write and share my story that’s all that really matters in the end.
There is one thing that has not changed in the nine years of writing.
My love for writing about history.
I once told my mom that I would never stop writing stories set in England’s past. Maybe one day I’ll write about Canada’s past. Or some other country’s past. But the past… There’s just something about history that makes my heart beat madly against my chest. Not the history of events per se, but the history of people. A history of people making decisions. A history of people rising and falling. A history of people fighting, loving and dying. Maybe it’s the fascination for people who thought so differently to us—and yet, at the same time, knowing that human nature has remained pretty much the same. Or maybe it’s this feeling of detachment, history being forever lost to us, and yet, at the same time, engraved within us—and therefore allowing myself to tell a story less restricted within my awareness of the present cultural context. I don’t know. I’m not even sure if I’m making sense. I guess it all comes down to: The past is always so much more romantic.
Dear Readers, What has and has not changed for you as a writer?
Here are some of the tweets/FB updates to summarize why I was not updating my blog for the past while:
Stephen Dedalus from ‘A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST…” always seems like he’s high on drugs.
I need to sleep so I stop missing classes. So my hand automatically picks up PORTAITS OF A YOUNG ARTIST. Hmm…
ugh, just finished my european history paper. Just brutal. Let me say that I’m doneee with feminism
Another successful all nighter. Am now at Starbucks #amwriting in my journal before working on history paper # 2
I am so burnt out. Mention the name “James Joyce” and I’ll burst into tears!
Looking over history lecture notes. Can you find where my mind (half-asleep) began to think about creative writng?: “…who controls the land, had existed even before 1663, under their part, land divided up as small plots, until he realizes the he has captured beauty…”
Faulk it, I’m not reading William Faulkner ‘Sound and the Fury’.
Discovering so many stirring assertions while doing my readings: “…men were born free yet everywhere they are in chains.” -Rousseau
Dear Rebecca Black, please make a song about TUESDAY! While Friday is a day of partying, Tuesday is the day of liberation. Why? Because that’s when I finish my last exam. Woooooo