My First Novel Part II: Inspiration

I’ve been quite busy editing my first novel so I haven’t had much time to post here but wanted to throw in a few thoughts about the writing process to date.

Inspiration is a bizarre thing. I can’t really explain how I came to write this novel. It certainly isn’t anything I would consciously sit down and say to myself, “Hey, maybe I should write this crazy coming-of-age story.” The truth is, the two main characters originally came from short stories I wrote years ago when I was living out west and travelling a lot. In retrospect, it is a shame I never nurtured my writing abilities after this period of time since I recently found these once-lost short stories and marvelled at how my perception of the characters, even seven years ago, hasn’t really changed much.

I was encouraged to write this story by a bartender whom I once told about my passion for writing. The funny part is, I don’t even remember telling her originally, most likely because I had one too many beers. The next time I saw her, she asked how my writing was going. Of course, I was confused as to how she knew about my writing since to that point, I had told very few people about my aspirations. Regardless, she was undaunted in asking me every time I saw her how my writing was progressing. Of course, it wasn’t progressing at all, but her questioning me did give me the spark to try to organize my thoughts to make a serious effort.

I spent most of the first year struggling to write was would become essentially Act One of my novel. It was really getting the characters, tones, and basic themes down. I had no clue where this story was going and only the roughest idea of how it would end. I also realized I had no clue how to write or structure a novel, so took some time off after finishing this first part and read every writing book imaginable. I studied all about three act structure and things like turning points, inciting incidents, and pinch points. Only once this had been properly digested, could I progress in writing the novel. This time away also allowed the rest of my novel to form in my mind.

It wasn’t until I sat down one day and committed to write every day on my novel, even if that meant only 200-300 words hit the page, that I made breakthroughs. It was as if my mind said to me, okay, I know you are taking this serious now, so I’m going to help you finish this thing.

I often found that hiking served as a wonderful muse for this novel. I know most of the ending came to me while I was hiking in Algonquin Park one summer day. Music also played a key role. There are a number of scenes that have their own particular song which inspired me. The emotion from that song, whether it be happy, depressing, or hopeful, encapsulated the emotion that I then tried to capture on paper through my writing.

Today, I still marvel how my subconscious played a role in helping me write this novel. There are a number of instances where I would write something which baffled me (for example, a character would have a weird trait) only for the literary reason for that quirk to become apparent in the latter stages of the novel.

I’m working on editing now, which is an interesting process in itself and worthy of its own post. I hope to be ready for beta readers in May. There will be a sense of relief to actually get this thing out into the public and see what it is I have really created. Is this just something I have written for myself, with no value or meaning to others, or something else that resonates with readers, perhaps on an individual level.

I guess I will find out shortly.

 

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