There are those months when we lose ourselves in our writing. Nothing else matters but following our creative energies until all possibilities are exhausted and the momentum that carried us forward is depleted. Other hobbies and interests, relationships and responsibilities fall behind, neglected. As though life is in waiting.
And then there are those months when we lose ourselves in life. Too busy experiencing the world’s wonders, or just catching up on our to do’s, to snatch a bit of inspiration and steal some time to write. The less we write, the easier it is to forget our burning desire to write—or at least, the easier it is to ignore it. Getting that drive back, and acting on it, is a persistent and familiar struggle.
September and October have been those months for me. My writing has been in waiting—waiting for the desire, waiting for the time, waiting for the just do it already and write. The trouble is, though, that I do want to write, and I can make the time, but I don’t want to work on any of my current projects.
My novel is stalled out in its infancy. My short story collection is stuck in my head. My works to be rewritten are skewered by perfectionism. Yet beyond these problems lies an even bigger deterrent: I don’t want to write in my genre right now.
Breaking from My Genre
I’m a spec-fic writer through and through, and all my work sits somewhere on the spectrum between fantasy and science fiction and weird. Normally the creative possibilities of spec-fic inspire me, capturing my imagination and love of the what-if. With a little mental energy, spec-fic provides a way to both escape from and reflect upon life; it’s self-reflective escapism.
Escape is not what I want at the moment. I don’t want the far out, the weird, the unreal, the impossible. For once, I want the real. And not just standard fiction—I want my real fiction. I want to write my story.
But first, let’s go back to the start for a moment: those months focused on writing versus those months focused on living. I’ve felt a need to bridge the two and join them into a more cohesive unit so that writing and living don’t have to be disparate things. I want to live and I want to write together. One shouldn’t have to suffer (too much) for the other to thrive.
Spec-fic can’t be the bridge I want it to be because it is too far removed from life, from the real, to join it with writing. At this point in time, my mind and creative energies cannot rally behind the speculative. I am too engaged in the present and being and doing to get lost in my head.
To bridge writing and living, then, to be engaged in both, I am going to write my experiences. Short stories, flash fiction, first person, third person, whatever the form, I am going to make stories out of…well, my stories.
To Fictionalize Me
I am excited to fictionalize parts of my own life because I can jump right in. Think of all that is ready and waiting for the writing: plot lines with surprises and challenges, characters with flaws and motivations, settings with history and detail, and of course a protagonist I know everything about. With all these elements taken care of, I can experiment and focus on the writing itself.
Instead of struggling with what comes next and fighting the plot block, I can turn to characterization, narration, and voice. Did I capture the mood of that romantic date under the stars? Does this character sound like my friend with the Nova Scotian accent? Can I picture how my fishing lure got stuck in a tree?
It’s all about the nuance, and that is a writing challenge I am eager to tackle.
Of course I won’t be producing any material for publication—I’m not writing my autobiography here—but writing my story is that bridge I need between life and writing. Fictionalizing me is not an abstract, speculative, or escapist endeavour that will pull me away from life and wrap me in a writer’s bubble. If anything, fictionalizing me will engage me more with life.
Hopefully once I’ve found a good rhythm between writing and life, I can maintain the bridge between the two while transitioning back to my spec-fic genre. The end goal is to incorporate writing into my life more naturally. I still do love the what-ifs and I am not abandoning them by any means. I am just exploring what if I write my story. What if you write yours?