I gave myself a long break over Christmas. I thought about whether I'm cut out to be a writer, whether I'm wasting mine and everyone else's time by pursuing it. Yes, I was quite ready to get off this writing treadmill because, five years into writing my novel, Not Even Myself, it still isn't finished. But the break got my subconscious working, resolving niggles, making decisions my conscious mind had given up on. With my children going back to school, I opened up the neglected folder where my novel languished, and BOOM, I began to rewrite. I knew what needed to be changed, how I was going to do it. It was easy. And it was a shock that it was easy. Even more shocking to me was, after five years of rewrites, I was actually enjoying myself! I've had to pause (which has been like applying the brakes whilst driving 150mph on an icy road) so that my editor, Imogen Cooper, can check I'm heading in the right direction. I feel like I am, like I might actually be writing THE draft, but I've been wrong before. One of changes I'm making is to add in 'word collages'. I've been told illustrating YA books is costly but having enjoyed the illustrations so much in Coraline by Neil Gaiman and A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, I feel there is a point to pictures in YA - and especially in my story, where Millie's desperately trying to make sense from the fragments she sees. I'll fight to have them!
A word collage as illustration.
The break got my subconscious working, resolving niggles, making decisions my conscious mind had given up on.
The biggest writing change has been converting from third person (she, he, herself, himself) to first (I, me, myself) . This is because Imogen thought the reader was 'watching' Millie's mental illness, rather than really feeling it. I didn't disagree but I also wasn't sure I'd like writing in first person as much. But rather than stifling my writing, it's freed it. Like cleaning up a smudged window, everything sparkles. First person is absolutely pushing the emotion out to the reader. Whether, with three character viewpoints, sticking with first person is viable is a decision for another day. Maybe I'll leave that one for my subconscious too.
Ele Nash: Prone to bursts of creativity and self-doubt. Artist of collage. Writer of short stories and Young Adult fiction. Lover of really old TV show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Also, obsessed with cats. And haberdashery.