(WTCB September) On Journeys

How far have we travelled in these many hours? What obstacles have we overcome? (Photo of a crazy golf path - ya didn't know I have a soft spot for crazy golf, did'ya?)
How far have we travelled in these many hours? What obstacles have we overcome?
(Photo of a crazy golf path – ya didn’t know I have a soft spot for crazy golf, did’ya?)

We are winding down the WTCB September posts now. I’ve had so much fun this month delving further into my novel and its characters, symbolism, et cetera, but, unfortunately, September can’t last forever. To add to that, tomorrow I’m moving into my hall at Reading University, so I have to unscrew my literary blogger hat and replace it with the commentary-on-life and these-are-my-ideas-for-the-world hat.

Some things in-store for October include a narration of my life as a new English Undergraduate (that is: a Englishwoman Undergraduate, not an Undergrad studying English), the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and thoughts on poetic prose amongst other writerly tangents; books and their psychological perception, and some promotion for The Fauxpocalypse Project.

That is, if my life as a student doesn’t get in the way. We’ll see.

IMAG2510Looking back, it’s amazing to think how far I’ve come since 2010. Yes, in education and my life itself, but also in the production of my writing. We could happily look at my work from a self-contained view.

This year alone, the first chapter has done its rounds of the Beta readers; the full MS may have only been critiqued by a couple of people, but I have certainly learnt of the extent of editing. My ability to show instead of tell has grown, and I can now write a query letter without making it sound like an unfinished synopsis.

What amuses me is the way a whim – inspired by a prompt to write a full novel in NaNo ’10 – has turned into the one project on which I have spent the most time and effort. This only proves that we will never know what is coming, around the next bend of this road in the journey. From the February I finished the first draft, each month gave me a different insight into what I had first written; with every change, a further desire for perfection and completion sprung. With every blog post, I have carried an urge to discuss my characters and my setting and my ambitions beyond the mere electronic-page.

So has been my own, personal journey, perusing the mind of a novelist (if she/I may call herself/myself that) for these ideas – and, almost two years after I started blogging – here I am, feet upon the precipice.

Who knows where the jump will take me next?

TroutInn3_AlexB

Of course, the journey a writer makes with a book is only half of the process of journeying; the other half comes from the lives of those precious characters. Their personal journeys, both the physical such that Phillip makes, sneaking back and forth from his childhood home to the wreckage of his new one, the emotional – Aidelle realising she’s been too image-obsessed – and their ex libris charactorial journeys: those of the 2D stick people, the protagonists who smile and do their best work always, who have shaped and changed before my eyes to become [more, for who can say if they are the best characters?] 3D, flawed people.

I have so much for which to thank my characters, for they have shaped my own journey, as much as I have theirs.

How do we make the most of a journey, though? Everybody is different, but I’d advise taking each day at a time, moving through the moments when you see them. Too many times have I tried forcing myself to edit – and it doesn’t work. Yes, deadlines loom, but that doesn’t mean you have to tackle them straight off the bat.

Breathe. A journey is a journey – a diurnata, a day’s work – for that exact reason: hardly anything happens overnight, and each day must add up towards its end on its own merits.

One day is a single day. As those who’ve done NaNo know, missing one day is no matter towards a target. The idea is substance in a day, not rushing through in a heady mess. I know. I’ve done it so many times.

If you’re journeying, don’t forget the sights, don’t forget to enjoy the passing moments, for they will never come back. We all have goals – but the real success is not letting those goals rule us.

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