When a fiction writer is not writing fiction, there's a feeling of loss. I felt that for an entire year between The Play House and what I'm tentatively calling The Dream Vendor, which is the sequel.
You think, When I get back to writing fiction, I will write nothing else.
Until you finally open up that next story and start pitter-pattering away, and feel the need to pause. Jot down thoughts. Thoughts that, until then, had been relegated to circling around the subconscious. Thoughts that, finally now, are getting released.
Fiction does that to you. It creates a sort of opening between the subconscious and the conscious, a narrow pathway where wisps of ideas can escape the pool of the unknown, and, if you're quick about it, maybe even be caught long enough to be drawn up into your awareness.
I would love to explain how on earth that happens, but it's a mysterious process. During the writing of The Play House, so much came up in the form of these tiny wisps of thought that things I'd been holding onto for over a decade healed in full.
Like, the fact that when I grew up I felt like pure alien. Like, I didn't even know that friendship could be a pleasurable thing, because I'd been faking mine for so long. Because, really, I'd been duping myself for so long, disallowing myself to be who I really am in front of others, in front of even myself most of the time.
These days I'm told I'm "different" at least once a week. Often 3-4 times a week. And not only do I not mind, but I relish it. Because, to me, it doesn't matter at all what the person-who's-said-it's intent is. It matters that I've maintained the affirmation within myself that it is a truly beautiful thing to not sand off your edges, to not try to blend in. Because your edges, your quirks, are really the most beautiful pieces of your identity. They are, as one of new my friends tells me repeatedly, what makes me me, what makes you you.
Now, as I write The Dream Vendor, I can feel the waves of thoughts circling, thoughts I'm positive I won't have full access to for at least a year, possibly two. And that's okay. They will make themselves known, in time. Many will come out onto the page through metaphor, through character histories and traits. And others will simply come up like those bubbles in mineral water. They'll rise to the surface, allow me to observe them, and then they'll pop and fade away.
I wrote yesterday over on Instagram how fiction writing is a powerful form of self-development. I wrote how I feel that way because of the dedication it requires. But I failed to write about all of this: how it is a powerful form of self-development because it makes you face yourself and all of your complexities. Not necessarily head on. But over time.
To write a novel, you can't hide from them. That is, if you want to finish your book. Because, most often, your story is about that thing you're avoiding. Trust me on this one. If you are a storyteller struggling with your plot, you will find it in the internal closet you're refusing to open. Every time.
I recognize this is a rather vague blog post. It's about the process of fiction writing and all its tentacles. But this post is a sort of meta-post. I'm writing to you guys to explain the virtues of fiction writing, but also I was hoping to figure out, if possible, what's circling beneath. It didn't come through today. It will. You guys will see my discoveries in real time, I'm sure.
Big love and big hugs,