(TWIP: This Week in Progress)
Hi, guys. Whomever is reading this, I’ll presume you’re a writer, or at the very least you like to read. And if you like to read, probably at least once you’ve daydreamed a story of your own or wanted to. I wrote my first novel when I was about twelve. It was about wizards and selkies and was the purest form of a Harry Potter knockoff, but since then, my life could be broken up into a cycles of brainstorming, writing, editing…and empty periods. Those periods are usually dark for me. There have been times when, if I’m not head over heels in a story, I experience symptoms eerily similar to depression. I don’t dream (I’m not even joking. If I’m not writing or don’t have time to read books, my REM cycle is blank)…and I’m just a little…off. I feel as if I’m wasting time.
I feel truly alive when I write. I tear up, laugh (audibly, which can be awkward if someone’s in the room), and cycle through a whirlwind of emotions. So when I’m just doing normal work, I feel like I’m missing something. I haven’t written anything new since I returned for my spring semester of college. Well—I’ve written paper proposals and essays, etc., but nothing with story thieves or winged boys or high adventures. And I feel okay. After closing the page on a story, I feel pressured to think of a new one. Who’s next? Where to? I write to vent, to relax, to live. There’s always that sheer panic in the back of my head, snuggled into my cranium at the tip of my spinal column—the fear that I’ll never pen another tale. That I’m used up. Then come the wild stories, the mad grabs that are half-formed: a superhero story, of course! It’ll be a girl, who’s Dominican and her best friend will chronicle her stories because he’s a cartoonist, and she’ll have the power to manipulate anything ink-based, so she can change what newspapers or books say or turn the ink into its toxic gaseous form to protect herself—blah blah blah. They sort of sound cool in your head, but once you put them on paper you’re stuck. Who’s the villain? What’s the point?
I often find that my point is to answer a question, to right a wrong. Why would you risk stealing something from an impenetrable museum? Why is this mouse spirit haunting this college student? How did a narcissistic country girl become one of the most threatening villains in Greek mythology? The answers usually involve loveable characters, a handful of pitfalls, a trip to the library or Wikipedia and usually Google Translate, and I’m on my way.
But, until I find my next question—until the next character comes knocking on my subconscious, hands out for a quest—I’m going to rest. Think of all the books you love, all the adventures the characters have. They all rest, at least for a bit, right? If they don’t, mental breakdowns usually ensue, am I right? It’s okay to take a break. You have your entire life to create new stories. That’s one of the coolest things, and why I’m so grateful I started young: I have until the day I day to create new stories and go on new adventures. And I think a little break won’t hurt too much. So if you, like me, are on a writing break, ease down. Read lots of books. Go on your own adventures. Watch TV. Do whatever you want. What usually happens to me is that something utterly everyday pops a question into my head, whether I’m in class or eating soup or walking down the road. Your next adventure will come. Just have your mind open so you can embrace it when it does.
P.S. -- Also, I have like five signed novels/novellas whose edits I'm waiting for, so a girl can hope that soon she gets an email with a huge attachment filled with little red comments so she can revisit old friends and get them nice and spiffy for their world debut, am I right? ;3