I haven't written original fiction since last summer, and I am so excited to start again. The thing is, when I'm in between projects, I tend to have months of dry spell (last thing I wrote was Percy fic in October), and that's not very good. And you know what makes me start writing again?
I realize that sounds super unhealthy, but for whatever reason, I rarely start projects when I'm in a good place. That doesn't mean I am ALWAYS unhappy when I write. I'm usually pretty happy. But it takes a moment of true misery to get me going on a new project. When I started writing original fiction, it was freshman year of college, and I was lonely and unhappy, and fiction is the thing I do when I don't want to deal with reality. Novels, I can count on. They have a beginning and an actual resolution, and a protagonist who goes through a character arc, and a level of predictability that real life can never have. For a control freak like me, novels are comforting. Second semester of that terrible freshman year, I wrote an entire novel for the first time, and that's how it started.
Writing makes me happy. I can be unhappy, but then when I have a project to concentrate on, I am in general a much more joyful person. I don't know if this a prescribed coping mechanism, or if it's dysfunctional, or whatever, but it's what works for me.
I really hope I can keep this up through second semester, when I know I will ACTUALLY be busy again (right now, I'm in J-Term, which means we only have one class per day and it's pass/fail). Anyway, I wrote the first 1,000 words of a new project, titled The Earth Between Us. It's about a girl who spends her summer studying cemeteries. I'm not totally clear on where this plot is going, but what's best for me now is probably to just get some words on a page and get the ideas going. I already feel like something that has been missing in my life for a long time has come back, and I feel much, much better. I love writing. Here are the first couple of paragraphs:
I didn’t intend on spending my summer around dead people. To be fair, I wasn’t spending a whole lot of time around the living either, so maybe it didn’t make that much of a difference. But I had planned on being mostly in the basement of our suburban home, friendless except for Charlotte Brontë (who is, in fact, dead) and Elmer.
Elmer also doesn’t count as a living person, as he is a cat. Why Elmer? Who knows. My sister named him that when we brought him home as a kitten. Said he looked like an Elmer. I’m not sure what she meant, but he looks like a tabby cat. Sunburst orange with darker stripes. Like so many other things, my sister lost interest in the cat once he stopped being a kitten and stopped being cute. She left the name behind, though. That’s what we’ve called him ever since.
Anyway, I read somewhere once that cats carry some kind of weird parasite that makes people prone to suicide, and so the stereotype of the crazy cat lady might actually hold water. Owning a cat automatically ups the chances that you’ll develop depression, probably not want to see people, and then die alone. And then on top of that, everybody knows that dentists have the highest rate of depression among any occupation.
What happened was this.
My father is a dentist. My sister and I have model-caliber teeth as a result. But in April, my father did what any person who is employed in the field of dentistry and owns a partially overweight cat is apparently extra-prone to do: he had a nervous breakdown.