May 2020 Writing Update

It’s hard for me to even know how to write this writing update. I’m in a period of questioning my writing vocation, so this month’s post will be less about progress/goals and more reflection/processing.

I should start by saying that I did not meet my April goal of editing Our Company of Fools. However, this was not because of time constraints or a lack of effort—it was because of my own choice. As I read through OCoF again, I found that I wasn’t in love with it anymore. It had so far departed from what resonated with me, and I’m not sure if it’s because I tried to make it more relatable to a wider audience or if it’s just because I’ve grown up since I wrote it. Whatever the reason is, I’ve shelved it for now. It’s a very polished book, but I don’t want to fight for it to get published if I’m not at least liking the finished product.

So, with OCoF and its sequels removed to the backburner—again—I dreamed up new ideas based off of my old ideas, the same ones I’ve recycled over and over since high school. I fully intended to launch into one of these revamped projects in May—but I stopped. Once my final academic paper was turned in and I looked to my writing, I felt paralyzed. Where do I even start? Will this version actually satisfy me?

And…do I really have to start all over again?

Let me explain what I mean. High school was my “golden age” of writing. I wrote five novels within three-ish years. I hit my stride. I didn’t let fear stop me. I wrote and loved every second of it. I dreamed up and created three main ideas, three main series, which since college I have been rebooting over and over again just because I thought they weren’t original enough, they could be bigger, they could be so, so much better if only I could create the perfect series outlines and arcs and cram as many as I could of these epic ideas together…

The last book I finished, The Queen of Imagination, was one I had started in high school. In 2018, when I looked at it again, I noticed some of the rough edges of my writing quality. I saw some things in need of tweaking. Nonetheless, I picked up in the writing of that draft right where I had left off and I finished the book. Then I shaped the draft into a smoother story.

As I contemplated questions and prayed about my writing over the past couple of weeks, I thought about my process for writing The Queen of Imagination. And I started to look back at the other books I had written and loved in high school.

When I look at them, I see the rough edges. I see the places for improvement. I even see the tropes and stereotypes and bits of plot convenience that may need to go.

But I also see joy and innocence and fearlessness. I see the creativity in my imagined worlds. I see potential.

I don’t know if it’s the answer. I’m trying to be prayerful about the direction of my writing, especially in a season of life where I’m tired, busy, and don’t have much energy for creativity. But I do know that I don’t have to set out to write the most epic, most original story. If I write a story that is moving, a story that speaks messages of Hope and Light to others, a story that inspires others create alongside me, then I’ve written a beautiful and God-honoring story. Maybe it won’t be the most original. Maybe it won’t be the best novel ever. But it doesn’t have to be. If I enjoy it, if others enjoy it, and if it glorifies Christ—then it is enough. I’m settling into that fact more and more, and it’s freeing.

This month, I’m going to explore where I left off with  The Myth-Keepers, one of my oldest and most cherished ideas and the one I thought would be my debut. It’ll probably be slow going as I sift through notes and try to make sense of where the story might need to go. But I don’t think, contrary to what I believed for the past four years, that I need to reinvent it in big ways. In small ways, sure. But what currently exists is a great starting point, I think. I still have love for the “original” story.

We’ll see where it goes. Lord willing, I’ll have an exciting update about it come June.