These three are featuring rather heavily in my writing life at the moment. So I thought I’d spend a post postulating and considering their merits and downsides, as somewhat useful procrastination.
Not in the typical way. As in, I haven’t suddenly messed up my whole novel with an inconsistency that laughs in the face of space and time. What I mean is that I am apparently a fickle writer. I am the writing equivalent of Joey Potter in Dawson’s Creek: does she love Dawson, does she love Pacey, does she want to date some random guy whilst thinking of Dawson, running from Pacey and trying to find herself? Tune in next week for another five years of back and forth.
(Apologies for those of you who were not pre-teens in the nineties, or had better things to do than watch teenagers spouting polysyllabic words to emphasise their angst. This comparison will probably not mean much.)
I had it all planned. Finished the ‘literary coming-of-age-novel’, moved onto (and thoroughly planned during my travels) the ‘kid book’ (Friday Jones and the Thirteen Club) then move on to either the ‘teen summer book’ or return to the ‘unfinished nostalgic dissertation’ to turn into a novel.
There was a PLAN. Except Friday Jones has been eluding me. It’s been a bit of a struggle. And as much as I respected my A-Level English teacher telling me my brain should be hurting if I’m working hard enough, there was no flow here. So it drizzled away until I stopped. For days and days and days. And could not get excited about it again.
Then BAM. Tabby Riley happened. Just in case you don’t know, Tabby Riley is my new heroine. And my new favourite person. Because…drum roll…I’m writing a chick book. I hope that you know when I say ‘chick book’ I clearly mean ‘intelligent writing aimed at women who are sceptical about the all-encompassing love ideals fostered by Disney, but are tired of reading Sartre and would quite frankly like something cheerful and full of snarkiness.’ Snarky and sarcastic are the name of the game here. Plus I have the slight problem that I created such a hot leading man I’m a little in love with a fictional character. My own fictional character. He’s a boywhore with a heart of gold, just the way I like ‘em.
I suppose I’m going to get some derisive looks and judgemental comments about female fiction, but my honest response is ‘so what?’ Good chick lit is hard to write, there’s a lot of terrible stuff out there. But I’m pretty sure I can do this. So let’s see if I stick with it. It’s already very different in process to the kids book, a lot more like my first novel, where I had to scribble down conversations between characters in the middle of the night. It’s a necessity, rather than work at the moment. So here’s hoping, it gets somewhere.
I think collaboration is the key to any good writing life. Sure, you can be the cliche hermit all you want, and you need to be in your own head to get work done. But you’ve got to leave the room and join the party sometimes. Connecting with other artists, whether they’re writers or not is a comforting and invigorating experience. They may not be focusing on what you’re writing about, what they’re passionate about may be really far from your interests, but one conversation can spark inspiration. Hell, a word they said five years ago may be the start of your next book. Never underestimate the importance of companionship. Or even just having someone understanding the problems you face.
This was a really big part of my MA in Creative Entrepreneurship, being surrounded by artists who got what it was like to be an artist.
So, just as I’ve batted ideas back and forth with him for years, I’m hopefully going to start working with my good friend Jay on some projects. If you don’t know the work of Jay Crisp, you should, because he’s awesome. Check out his art and manic humour over at The Wild Side web comic, and Touc Reviews on Youtube. He’s been one of the main people I moan about writing to, and like I say, it’s important to have people around you who know what it’s like. If the websites are anything to go by, I suspect the Touc and Twisted Barista have a sense of humour (and rage) in common. Here’s to creative collaborations!