What the Heart Yearns to Tell
April 7, 2015
I expect the long-form mentorship will help me to see the strengths and weaknesses of my writing more clearly. I’m hoping the experience will allow me to grow as a writer. My novel The Nap-Away Motel has been alive in my mind for so long now that it is hard to remember how it came into being. Two years ago I wrote a couple of paragraphs about a teenager who was a homeless runaway. That simmered for a while, until I placed her at a run-down Scarborough motel. The novel grew from there. I had some themes that I wanted to explore, including poverty, gender, and mental illness, which all eventually found their way into the novel.
Initially the novel was going to be told from the alternating first-person POV of the two main characters. But then a third character appeared, needing his story to be told as well. I decided at that point to have a single narrator, the motel, tell the story of its occupants. I have always loved stories told by unique narrators or unique perspectives, like death’s narration of The Book Thief. But I wasn’t able to create this narration successfully, so I decided to have the motel become one of the main characters in the novel instead. I think it adds a bit of quirkiness to the novel.
When I write, I usually start by re-reading what I last wrote and doing a quick bit of revising and editing to get me going. When I’m deeply entangled in a writing project I spend a lot of my non-writing time thinking about what I’m going to write next, so I rarely struggle with trying to figure out what to write once I’ve got the time. I started writing seriously when my first daughter was a newborn, and so I tend to write whenever I get an opportunity, whether it ends up being five minutes or two hours.
I think Virginia Woolf had it right when she said that “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” In a perfect world, every writer would have the space, time, and money to write what their heart yearns to tell. Some free chocolate and a super comfy writing chair would help too.
I’m not dreaming too big for what I foresee happening ten years from now. I’d love to have at least one published novel. Ok, at least two, maybe even three. I’ve always wanted to write a novel about animals (like The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams, or The White Bone by Barbara Gowdy) so maybe that project will be finished in ten years time. Low point: losing faith in my writing. High point: holding a copy of my published novel for the first time.
Zany fact about me: showing or marked by a lack of good sense or judgment; writing a novel while caring full-time for a newborn and a three year old.