After a hiatus of nearly eighteen years (marriage and children—life), I began writing stories again in the fall of 2014 just before I started my first class at Southern New Hampshire University online. After reading the book, Of Human Bondage, by Somerset Maugham, the ideas of a story filled my mind, and this time, these ideas made it into words written in longhand on paper in a spiral notebook. And I succeeded in finishing this piece in a month or two. The story is in the genre of Young Adult/Children’s, and is about bullying and reconciliation. I then went on to write my first novel, followed by a few more short stories.
In 2015, I had another year of sporadic writing blocks via an online critique site I became part of while working on my novel. By the first couple of months of 2016, I wasn’t able to write as I had been. This happened because I had lost my voice, style of writing, and became overly concerned with the rules of writing and taking every feedback to heart. My writing had become flat, mechanical, and lifeless. It took me nearly another year to come back from that and discern the difference between a critique that pertained to what I needed to improve my story and one that was not relevant or useful to the storyline and my style of writing.
Since then, I’ve been continuing to edit my novel and short stories, but have picked up reading more fiction. This has helped me tremendously. Last week, I finished reading a Jodi Picoult novel that was superbly written with a profound and complex storyline. The ending didn’t tie up neatly in a pretty pink bow, but rather had me thinking about the decision the main character had made and left me wondering how that was going to work out for said character. Intriguing to say the least.
It was through reading this 400+-page novel in four days that spurred me to writing a new story, though lacking a clear plot or known ending (which was how I usually started writing–stream of consciousness). But in the past couple of days, the plot and direction of this new story has become clearer, and the writing I did on it last night and this morning gave me such joy and satisfaction. It was the kind of writing I’ve wanted to write but haven’t been able to since I wrote my novel in 2015, but this current story’s writing is superior to it, which makes sense if you are growing in your writing. And how exciting is that to know you can continue to hone your writing skills and become better and better the more you read and write?
I had heard from other writers more than once, the importance of reading a lot… “Read, read, and then read some more,” was basically the advice thrown out there in a Facebook writers’ group in which I’m a member, in the answer to questions on prompting yourself to write. Now that I have done this and seen the effects of this experience, I know the key to burgeoning ideas and perpetual writing of stories. Thank God! And believe me, I haven’t forgotten His loving guidance throughout this process.
As I plow through submitting the last twenty or so chapters of my first novel through my online critique group and prepare it for publishing this coming spring, I am feeling very good about my fate as a blossoming writer and soon-to-be official author. Life is good, and writing about it makes it even better.