Recently I have been feeling very positive about writing and the progress I have made on my novel. A year ago, the idea of writing a novel was merely a dream, but after allowing myself the time to daydream, scribble down notes and thrash out some plot ideas, I have now written over 20,000 words. With the growing word count, the story has become meatier with characters who I feel I know. On the days when I have chance to write, I can feel the bubbling excitement within me at the thought that by the end of the day, the story will have developed further.
I find myself thinking, almost subconsciously now, about the story all the time; where it is going, whether it will end the way I think it will, or whether the characters will force a different outcome. I have always been a planner, and am mostly unable to start writing unless I have a clear idea of what each section of my work will contain. Writing this book has been different. I have seen the characters changing, and with them, the course of the story has also altered direction. It has been liberating to allow the story to tell itself, and strange to try to understand how the story that I am trying to tell can change without me making a conscious decision to change it.
I don’t want to say too much about my writing at this stage, but the story itself focuses on a woman in her thirties who is hit with the news of her father’s unexpected death. His death raises previously unanswered questions about her past, and forces her to face the family she has tried to leave behind. Those closest to her are left struggling to understand the change they witness in her, and she must decide to either tell the truth, or walk away and make a new life for herself.
I started this blog for several reasons, one of which was to document the difficulties of striking a balance between work and family life. I’m sure I won’t surprise anyone when I say that finding the balance has not been easy (I haven’t found it). By the time our two young children are in bed in the evening I feel too tired to concentrate on writing, and worry that anything I do write will be of poor quality and require re-writing anyway. On the days when we use childcare, I frantically try to get my paid freelance writing work done. The thought of using that time to write my novel is a difficult one, as using the time to do something that has no income attached seems too frivolous to sit comfortably. That said, as a parent I do feel I have lost the sense of who I am and have so little space to myself, that the occasional indulgent day of continuing on my novel is an absolute joy. I will continue trying to find the balance, but more and more I am accepting that with small children in our lives, life is all consuming and there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
This month I have truly felt lifted by the sight of spring flowers poking out of the ground in our garden and local parks. Some are already in bloom, and I know that soon the flowerbeds and green spaces will be awash with colour. With them, the lighter mornings and evenings will appear, and life will surely begin to feel easier after the long winter. I am hopeful that the longer evenings will encourage me to write more once the girls are in bed, allowing me an extra hour or two to continue writing the story. Making a good start on my novel must surely be the hardest part out of the way, as at least now I am eager to keep writing and no longer have the pressure of a blank page sitting in front of me. Despite the difficulty finding time, I am determined to make this a success, whether I ever find the right balance.
I am still in the early stages of writing and so any hints, tips, criticism or encouragement is welcome. Please get in touch below or @workinglife2016.