Hello. Wow. It’s already two weeks into the new year. Time is flying. I thought I’d update you all on my progress.
In December I began working on a new project that sort of just came to me. I was laying in bed and I imagined this girl with a special bond with her mom but at the same time an internal struggle that sometimes put their relationship at odds. I wrote the first 1,500 words on my phone during Nanowrimo. I didn’t want to work on two projects at once so I decided to wait until December to continue working on it and went back to my original project. By the end of December, I had 10,000 words.
My novel is coming from a gut-level place much like John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down did for him. I’m writing about dealing with depression in high school and the pressure of high academic performance. That same pressure lead to so little self worth of myself. Since there is a demand for healthy, female friendships in YA Contemporary, a demand that has yet to be met, I wanted to also focus on my character’s relationships. I also want write about an actual mother-daughter bond. I also don’t want there to be a love-interest who saves the broken girl. I’m so sick of that message. My character doesn’t need saving and she doesn’t get “fixed” in the span of 300+ pages. It will be interesting to watch my character grow as I write though! I have a slightly more detailed summary of the story written in this blog post if you scroll down to the second half of the post.
I feel so strongly about my story. I don’t remember the last time a project gave me so much life. Can I be honest? I grew up in the Bible Belt, so naturally I went to church but some religious circles did not encourage creativity. They also discourage “secular” creativity. I showed a story to a youth leader at that place and they thought my story was too hopeless and needed to have more of a light, more positivity. Well, I was feeling pretty hopeless back then and it was only a short story so we don’t even know if things did get better for my character. Suffice to say, I struggled with my writing a lot back then. I felt like every story I wrote had to have an under layer of spirituality. But that was not authentic to my experience. I was depressed, sad, lonely, self-harming, and lost. I couldn’t just make up a happy story, so I actually didn’t write many personal stories for a long time.
I finally graduated from college and had a moment where I was just sick of religion. I won’t go into what I don’t believe or believe now. It doesn’t matter. All I will say is that moment of clarity opened up a well of creativity. There is a phrase that goes around a lot in religious circles (bare with me). They talk about sharing your “testimony”. All that word means is: story. This year I had a thought — I’m sharing my story through fiction. There are people who think secular fiction is wrong or bad and that we should stay away from it. That is absolutely false. I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. YOU are doing what you’re supposed to be doing. I won’t allow someone else’s narrow beliefs limit my purpose. Again, I will NOT elaborate on what I believe and what I don’t as to not isolate anyone. I’m just speaking my truth. My upbringing effected my creativity for a long time and it brings me such joy to release my gifts to the world without restraint.