The Danger of Losing Novel Threads

I find it very easy to come up with new novel ideas for blog posts/short stories and typically follow up promptly while the seed is germinating in my mind.

However, what I find most difficult is spitting out onto electronic paper those first few chapters of a brand new novel idea and maintaining the consistency of output.

Life has a habit of throwing curve balls and domestic duties get in the way much to our chagrin and sometimes those characters and adventures are parked to one side eagerly awaiting the writer’s creative juices to lubricate the mechanical cogs to give voice to their untold story.

I started writing my (still to be self-published) first novel at the age of 23. At that period in my life I was fascinated by the area of Lucid Dreaming. Having landed a new job for a prestigious American I.T company, I finely balanced my fledgling passion for novel writing with the laborious and stressful sales role.

This dual responsibility between critical left brain thinking, assimilating new sales strategies with methodical planning versus the more artistic expression of thinking outside the box and pushing my imagination into uncharted territories bore a heavy burden on me. In the end, I couldn’t make it work as the stress in my work spilled into my evening passion, and not even my band of imaginary characters could manage to draw me into their world again.

Like Wendy Darling in Peter Pan, the child had grown up. In my case, the rat race had diminished my once fertile imagination and lust for adventure, as my more mature self prioritised business and chasing the dollar ahead of creative artistic pursuits.

I stopped writing for four years but still harboured the notion that one day….ONE DAY, I’d finish my magnum opus.

Peter Pan and Grown Up Wendy

When at 28 I decided to revisit my novel which was 20,000 words long I read it for the first time in its entirety. Time provides clarity and perspective and the thread that I had left dangling that day years earlier, was enticing me back like a kitten teased with a wool string. Except now, I recognised the glaring errors and the author’s voice no longer sounded like my own.

The entire format would need to be rewritten because it truly would have sounded like two different authors, and I endeavoured never to let such a long time pass again. Fortunately the subject matter was still compelling and the characters engaging enough in such a way that the dots in the intervening years been connected in my mind and the seed that had been sown had fully blossomed and I could see the branches of logic and how the picture looked.

At that point, it was simply a matter of telling the story and it flowed effortlessly finishing a few short weeks later.

It’s important not to let such projects stagnate. There is a genuine possibility that when you revisit that draft, you’ll lose interest. Sometimes that’s a good thing as with the passage of time you can gain perspective and acknowledge that circumstances or the story isn’t worth dedicating large swathes of your week. However, so many projects are binned because of a lack of urgency or discipline.

How many budding authors have their half-completed manuscript stored somewhere waiting for the right time to pick up the thread again?

As the saying goes, strike while the iron is hot. Momentum is a wonderful thing and getting started is the most important step.

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