NaNoWriMo Inspiration (Day 5): Are we having fun yet?

I can't remember if it was Day 5 of my first NaNoWriMo when I first started to realise how much fun writing fiction was, but it sounds about right.

I hope you're there by now, but if you're not, it's coming.

I'm going to try and explain how it feels when I'm having fun writing*. It never happens immediately. I do not bounce out of bed  and I do not skip to my chair. But it can happen quickly. It's normally when I'm writing a scene that sees a character go through a big change, development or reaction to something. It could be an event, a discovery or a conversation, but when I'm tapping out words that relay a shift in a person's mind or emotional state, I can feel the change too.

When I write non-fiction, especially travel articles, I find joy in nailling a phrase that captures a place perfectly. I find joy in bringing an article full-circle linking together something I've introduced at the beginning with a conclusion I've made at the end. I even find joy in testing the readability and SEO strength of an article for a client. 

I suppose all of that joy and fun comes from satisfaction. But writing fiction is very, very different...

When I was preparing for the first draft of London Eyes I knew I wanted to write a story set in Shepherd's Bush and I wanted to challenge myself to write from the perspective of teenage boys. The story of A to Zed is the result. It sees Theo and Rolly, two fourteen year old boys follow a guy who they think is a bit of a local legend, a drug dealer who they want to get work from. After I set the scene I switched narrators to write from the drug dealer's point of view and I revealed things that Theo and Rolly had no clue about. When the two parties meet at the end and some of the dealer's truths are revealed I found myself laughing out loud. Not because it's particularly funny (no spoilers here) but because I'd joined the dots and I'd taken my characters on a little journey that they were coming to terms with.

When I wrote Shy Feet and I wrote the first draft to All the Beaches are Made of Pebbles, I knew I wanted to write a woman's life of travel through diary entries, scattered across the years. When I wrote the final entry which saw her return to the same place the first entry was written, I felt full of a strange nostalgic energy. When I typed the words that ended the scene I cried.  It wasn't that the scene was drastically tragic or moving (again no spoilers here, but it's not) but I had gone on a journey with my diary writer and like I sympathise with characters in a film or in a book I read, I was feeling her feelings and reacting with her. (And yes, I define crying to a good movie as fun. I'm weird like that.)

This may all sound obvious to you. It may all sound downright odd. But I honestly never imagined that writing fiction, i.e. made-up stuff, could move me so much.

I'm sure there are psychological, emotional and scientific reasons why we enjoy writing fiction. Steven Pressfield certainly highlights a few possible explanations, but maybe Toni Morrison says it best of all...

"If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." - Toni Morrison

That's certainly what I'm doing this NaNoWriMo as I battle to write the first draft of a novel that actually began life as a short story in London Eyes. Oh, I just realised I've not yet shared with you what I'm writing. It's called "An Invisible Girl" and is about a girl who keeps vanishing into the streets of London... because that's her job. If it all comes together I'm going to call it a "contemporary urban literary fiction mystery". I'll tell you more about it soon when I give you a "live update" of my own NaNoWriMo progress at the end of Week One.

*Please be very aware that I do not always have fun when I write. For 90% of the writing work I do for clients and easily 50% of the time I'm writing fiction, I am not having fun. I'm engaged, interested and intrigued by the job, but I'm not having fun in a "wild grin on my face" or "tears-snaking-down-my-cheeks" kind of way. 

Bookmark this page for NaNoWriMo Daily Inspiration Posts, every day in November 2014.

Frances M. Thompson

Londoner turned wanderer, Frankie is an author, freelance writer and blogger. Currently based in Amsterdam, Frankie was nomadic for two years before putting down some roots with her Australian partner and having a baby boy in July 2015. In 2017, she launched WriteNOW Cards, affirmation cards for writers that help build a productive and positive writing practice. When not writing contemporary fiction, Frankie shops for vintage clothes, dances to 70s disco music and chases her son around Amsterdam.
Find Frankie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+

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