New book, same routine: rejoining the Morning Writers' Club
Last week, I started writing in the mornings again.
Full transparency: I'm not posting about it to make anyone admire me or my dedication to The Craft (jk please shower me with lavish gifts of donuts and champagne), or really for any reason other to keep myself accountable. I'm really rusty. And I'm only doing this because if I don't, I know I won't write at all.
Let me explain... after finishing the first draft of hail the pumpkin king in 2015, I tried to keep up my morning writing routine, but I felt completely apathetic about everything I was working on. pumpkin king had set a high bar in my head because it had been so much fun to write. Nothing else was exciting me the way pumpkin king had. So, because I am me, I decided the best thing to do was to revise the shit out of pumpkin king instead of writing a new book, even though I'd always known deep down that even if I revised pumpkin king until the day I died, it was probably never going to see the light of a Barnes & Noble. I'd written it entirely for myself, as a pet project, and had never intended to query it or self-publish. So "revision" was essentially just a fancy way of saying I was procrastinating beginning a new project. This should be a surprise to no one.
Then in 2016, I found this story. Sort of. It was an accident.
I think pumpkin king was personal to me in that I was putting all the stuff I liked in it. Monsters, magic, and matriarchy (oh my). It was weird, and I dug it. It had talking animals. I was like, this is gonna be the fantasy book that I always wanted to read, but the fact that it actually turned into something vaguely novel-shaped is truly a miracle.
This new novel is personal to me in a different way; I'm pulling inspiration from all the things that made up my childhood in real life. All the cello lessons, all the friendship drama, the fear of the future, the college application process. The need to decide between staying or going, when my family was in Colorado and I was getting accepted to college in California.
And before you ask, yes, this book is contemporary YA. Can I write anything besides historical fiction or fantasy? I have no idea!
Anyway, I started Still-Untitled Book in November 2016 for NaNoWriMo (the last NaNo I attempted, I should note), and then, I found myself in the midst of probably the biggest mental health crisis I've ever experienced. Whatever you want to call it, burnout or depression, I was in it for about half of 2017.
And during that time, I realized something important—I couldn't write this book.
I hate abandoning projects, you guys. As a general rule, I don't start things that I can't finish. I have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility. But when it came right down to it, I couldn't work on Still-Untitled Book while burnt out. Still-Untitled Book was too much. Too heavy. It made me emotionally exhausted to write it, and during a time when I already had too little emotional energy to function as a person in the world, I had none to spare on a book I was essentially writing to detangled my childhood. So, I shelved it.
and during that time, i realized something important—i couldn't write this book.
I've written about this before, but 2016-2017 was a Hard Time. Eventually, when I got to a place where I felt like I could, I tried out new hobbies. I practiced an absolute shit-ton of yoga. I adopted more plants than I could take care of and killed some of them, but actually kept a few alive. I read a lot of nonfiction which, yeah I know, is still reading, but is weird for me, okay.
And then the new year began at the school where I work. I spent months overhearing high school girls' conversations in the halls and seeing them laugh together over lunch in the cafeteria. And as I slowly regained my own sense of self, I started to realize that that book I had abandoned? It was calling me back to it.
So a year later, in November 2017, I started writing Still-Untitled Book again. Actually, first I trashed almost every single one of the 16,000 words of Still-Untitled Book I'd written during NaNo, and then I started writing Still-Untitled Book again.
It was better then second time. I guess sometimes, books aren't ready to be written until they're ready to be written.
But I was running up against a more familiar problem this time; I had no time to write. I was working forty hours a week, sometimes more. I was trying to take care of my health. And the last time I'd been seriously writing was in 2015, pre-boyfriend, and so I had never tried to write seriously while in a relationship.
One day, I was complaining to said boyfriend about this, and he said, "Why don't you try writing in the mornings again? That used to work for you."
I think I responded gracefully. Something like, "I hate that idea with all of my soul."
And then he decided he was going to go to grad school. While working full-time. As a teacher. As an AP English teacher. While also dating me. I looked into his beautiful, selfless eyes and I realized that if he could do that, then I could probably sacrifice a little sleep.
So NOW I'M BEGRUDGINGLY HERE AND THAT IS MY LONG STORY.
i guess sometimes, books aren't ready to be written until they're ready to be written.
The first week of morning writing, I wrote more than 5,000 words.
It's more than I've written all summer.
This may sound strange, but even three years later, I have not grown out of feeling like I really wish morning writing didn't work for me. I honestly can't express to you how much I wish I could continue to sleep in. I wish I was a whenever-it's-convenient writer. I wish I worked well in short bursts, like during my lunch hour or whatever. But I don't. I just don't.
Still-Untitled Book wanted my mornings, so now she has them. I hope she's happy. Because of her, my mornings are starting to look like they used to three years ago—a cup of black tea, my laptop, and a story idea that won't leave me tf alone.
Here's the storyboard, if you're interested: