I haven't been writing as much of my novel as I've wanted to this past year. Life hasn't slowed down since I graduated from college.
Full time job.
A library full of books.
Big life decisions I need to make.
Tiredness from all of the above.
You get it. I haven't been writing much.
These past few months though, I've been trying to write again. Really write, as in crank out this novel that I've been sitting on in my nest for almost six years.
But I feel dry and weary of life and what is in my life. Like my job that often feels meaningless and yet drains me every day. Of the same old routine. Of my student loans that weigh me down. Of dreams and opportunities that always seem to fail. Dreary from the sun that no longer seems to exist.
How can I write feeling like that?
I can't. Not really. Unless you want to read a novel that is dull, lifeless, and depressing.
But I think I found a breakthrough. A breakthrough that started many years ago.
When I Used to Draw
My writing breakthrough starts with my sister being better at drawing. I loved drawing when I was young. We both did. Books and writing were always more important to me than drawing, but I still loved the feel of the pen in my hands and choosing the colors that filled in the black lines. Until my sister was better.
Though younger, her drawings were better. Not that I had really practiced. But her artwork shocked our parents. Their mouths in o's, the words "gift" on their lips. They would watch her move her pencil in awe and admired her work like they never admired mine. Not even my stories evoked those emotions from them.
So I stopped drawing my shameful pictures. And I focused on writing, which had been my first love anyway.
I don't regret focusing on writing. It is what I love most in the realm of art and always will be. I just wish I hadn't given up drawing.
Then in college I took a graphic novels literature class. I wasn't thrilled about this class, just intrigued, curious, and needing those three easy credits. With rare exceptions like Peanuts or Calvin and Hobbes, I felt that comic books were for children and lazy adults who never tried to read a real book and had to rely on pictures of superhero drama for their so called literature. (Savage, I know).
I never imagined what I would discover in that class. I discovered that in some ways I was right, (which I hope to talk about in a future blog post) but I was also terribly wrong. I discovered that I loved graphic novels.
And I was horrified when my professor announced we would be making our own journal comics. My head again filled with the images of my sister's drawings compared to mine. But my professor insisted he didn't care if we drew stick figures, and my grades were at stake. So I drew stick figures.
After the initial shame and shock at my horrible drawings, I began to relax and found that I loved it. I loved writing and drawing about what I was feeling. Though I was frustrated that my pen could not even try to capture the images in my head, I still loved making comics. It was fun. It was a release. It unleashed new things in me. I promised myself that someday I would write a graphic novel, words and pictures by me.
It's now been two years since I took that class. I still read graphic novels. I still plan on making one myself someday. But I'm trying to write again and be creative again. I remember the words flowing out of me and I want that again for my novel in progress.
And this image appeared in my head. An image of my main character and a vine attached to her foot. I won't reveal my secret of how that correlates with my novel, but trust me when I say it does. This image made so much sense to me. It made me rejoice. Until I had this thought: How do I turn that image into words?
That question turned into more questions and more thoughts, thoughts that made me realize how visual I am. How my stories often don't initially come in words, but pictures that I then translate into words.
What if sometimes my thoughts must first be pictures on paper before it can be translated into words?
I tested my theory during the long car ride back home after spending Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania. I had empty, lined paper and my colored pens that only God knew I would need, and I put on that paper whatever came to me. There were words followed by pictures, and pictures followed by words. The emotion, the feeling, the desire of my character in my head became an image on my paper, and then that image turned into words that sounded like poetry.
My pictures are terrible. I drew stick people. I drew the lamest bed you have ever seen. I drew the ocean, and no one but me would know it was even water. But the words that followed those silly pictures, I think, make up for it.