Having a scan through my old emails, I was shocked to discover that it has been two years since I finished the first draft of a complete novel (let’s ignore the numerous subsequent drafts that had to be produced). I know this because I always email the first draft to myself and the date on my last complete novel is late March 2010. You’ve probably sussed that the two novels and one novella I have recently published were all written before then (between 2003 and 2010 to be exact). It sounds like a long time ago but with all the constant editing, the stories have continued to feel fresh to me which has been a great help in keeping my interest in them alive.
So what exactly have I been doing for the last twenty-three months? Thankfully I haven’t been struck by writer’s block or anything drastic. I’ve been writing more and more short stories (thanks to the exercises set in the writing group I attend), most of which I have put up on this blog in the last year or so. But short stories have never given me the satisfaction that completing a 75,000 word novel brings. I tried to start other novels but I kept getting distracted by the work I had to do on my existing manuscripts. Now that they are all done and dusted and out there in the real world for people to tear apart (cringe), I’ve started to look into what else I can begin work on. Last year I tried progressing a chick lit novel I started a few years back, loosely based on familiar work surroundings, but I ran out of steam pretty soon. I think the problem with that one was I’m not very good at sustaining romantic drivel past a few pages (those who know me are shaking their heads now). Romance novella, fine. Romance novel, panic mode. If you give me enough words, I’ll kill off the protagonist’s love interest because I wouldn’t know how else to drag out the relationship.
Then in December last year, after editing The Summer of Brian for the last time before publication, I realised I missed writing young adult romance. Cute, innocent puppy love has always made me smile (yes, yes, I watch far too much Gossip Girl and Vampire Diary type shows for my own good) and the temptation to kill of characters is less when the work is a novella. But even that was a struggle. I developed what I thought was a good storyline, wrote it all out and then tried to commence writing. I decided to go back to my old school handwriting technique seeing as I had twenty minutes on a train each day to the office and back to capitalise on. It was torture. I kept looking for the undo button and wondering why my notebook didn’t let me right-click and find synonyms. Long story short, two months on and I had achieved one and a half miserable chapters which I will have to completely overhaul.
My plan now is to return to my trusty PC and attempt to get back into the swing of things. Late nights staring at a screen will be worth it once I start to type. I’ve also shelved the YA romance idea and instead have come up with a YA paranormal romance (I blame Fringe and Grimm for this one) which I haven’t stopped thinking about and developing for days. Puppy love and weird happenings in a small town? Never grows old. I know I might run out of steam again (I hope not), but at least this time I’ll have the comfort of my undo button. Ah, the little joys of life.