When I started writing What Happens in New York, I wanted it out by the end of the year. Then we bought a house, and some other stuff happened, and it wasn’t going to happen.
So I pushed it to by my 26th birthday (March).
Then I started workshopping my story and realised how much work it still needed.
And at that point, I was ready to give up.
I was so busy putting deadlines on my work that I was forgetting why I wrote in the first place. I was seeing my writing not just as more than just an emotional outlet. I channeled everything into it, leaving myself with no energy left to function.
I was drained, and I was depressed. I didn’t want to do anything that involved getting out from under the duvet.
Everyday, I heard the characters’ voices in my head. They wanted to go travelling, to dance, to make sarcastic comments. Even if I’d wanted to take a step back, it wasn’t that simple. If I did, I was afraid I’d fall apart.
I have very little emotional strength right now due to issues with my anxiety and depression. The small amount I had left I used in my writing, giving me something to focus on and look forward to when I arrived home from work. The very idea of abandoning my characters for a little while felt akin to giving up. But if I didn’t, I was on the verge of driving myself mad.
I wasn’t just being passionate, I was being obsessive. I put so much pressure on myself that I could no longer see clearly and every comment — no matter how small — felt personal. I took it all to heart, despite knowing that I should know better.
I converted the Scrivener document into an .ePub to read on my phone, then vowed not to reopen it until I was done reading. I made a few small changes, but whenever the characters tried to appear, I thought about something else. Another story, the book I was reading, what colour to paint my nails. Anything that wasn’t What Happens in New York.
A couple of weeks later, I’ve only opened the document a few times. I’ve made small changes, but I’m saving the big ones for when I’ve calmed down some more. Instead, I’ve been focusing on a short story. Said short story is a fantasy/crime idea that predates What Happens in New York (if you can believe I have ideas older than SEVEN YEARS). I always had the premise, but I never knew what to do with it until I started reading Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead. The only thing the characters have in common is that they’re succubi, but seeing how another author approached the idea and having so much creative energy inside me helped me to form a plot.
Even though it’s a short story, I’ve plotted it out more than anything else I’ve ever written. I wanted to know exactly where the protagonist would end up before I started writing so that I had a direction for her to head in.
I now have about 3,000 words! I’m not sure how long it will be — probably no longer than 10,000 — but it’s refreshing to be writing in a genre I’d long-thought I could no longer write in.