In February as I was embarking on all things Fringe and Festival, I marked my second anniversary on the WIP, or better known amongst friends and family as “the writing saga.”
Little did I know when the inspiration for this story first popped into my head where the subsequent journey would lead. Two years later while I have a better idea of the path ahead, well at least of the plotline to my story with its working title Searching for Orlena, that alluring mystery still remains.
Even now I can still recall quite clearly my lightbulb moment. I was pondering over a book I had just finished reading. I must point out that writing anything, whether it be a blog post, short story, non-fiction book or novel, was the last thing I had on my mind.
Anyway I digress. On the night when inspiration struck there I was with the finished book sitting in lap as I was digesting what I believed to be a less than satisfactory end to the story. I was actually somewhat angry at some of the behaviours and attitudes of the characters and before I knew it the following lightbulb switched on in my head…
Just what motivates people to do what they do? Why does someone choose to go down a path that seems quite unfathomable and out of character?
From that little philosophical moment a germ of an idea grew that two years later is still growing, even if it is a little slower than I anticipated.
While there were other story ideas that I had been musing on for years, and to a certain point are still at the back of my mind bubbling away, this is the one that for now has got the most legs. It is also a great reminder how inspiration can strike you when you least expect it.
I’m still surprised that this flash of inspiration wasn’t during a writing session, an even rarer occurrence back then compared to now.
So this two year journey has been however one of relevation, not only of the story itself but also in my approach to writing.
Over the years I’ve regarded myself more of a ‘pantser’ than a ‘plotter’, probably due to the fact that as a journalist and media/communications consultant I am usually able to write to a deadline with speed. Even at university I was also able to write most of my essays with very little review or rewrite. However there was the odd that was like like drawing blood out of a stone.
However this WIP has proven I can do the plotter bit too. I suspect this is due to a couple of things, one being that it is the longest long-form of writing I have done in quite some time and the other is that there is no pressing external deadline to write to, except my own. Already I’ve missed my first imposed deadline which was to have the first draft done by the end of last year. At least I can still say here I am still tapping away at it.
The other factor that I feel contributes to the plotter element is with this WIP being a work of historical fiction I am forced fto stop the writing process from time to time to make sure the facts line up. Then there is this blog which needs feeding every now and again but I enjoy this side of the writing process too. It provides a great avenue to enable me to contemplate my broader world away from the WIP and indulge in other writing projects such as my recent reviews of the 2019 Adelaide Festival.
Many writers have written about the psychological aspect of writing and that little demon that is such a part and parcel of the writing life that questions the work you are doing. Believe me I’ve had those moments too. The thought bubble, that comes up for air every now and then, is if I have actually bitten off more than I can chew.
Until now I haven’t mentioned much about the plot for Searching for Orlena on this blogsite, partially as I didn’t think I was ready to talk about it, but also because describing it is a bit of a struggle. To be honest even now two years later, I am really not sure what genre it is and I suspect any such label may not become apparent until the first draft is complete.
One of the ways I describe the work to people is as an erotic spy thriller/historical novel with a bit of romance thrown in for good measure.
I think you get the picture for my confusion.
I can also reveal that Searching for Orlena is a complex multi-generational tale set in France and Australia and spans a timeline from the 1930s to the early 21st century.
I often describe writing as a bit of a journey and with Searching for Orlena I can say it really is. One of the things I have loved with this project is how some of the ideas that have come to me as part of the storyline, while initially seem far fetched, do in fact on closer examination line up. It is always the loveliest surprise and provides some validation to the concept and the work. I am in awe as the characters reveal themselves to me and take me to places I didn’t expect them to go.
To help and support me along the way I am a member of a couple of Facebook writing groups and they have definitely proven to be a writing cheer squad. Recently I came across a post on one of these group pages which I found particularly enlightening. The author spoke about the joy writing gave her and how publication for her was not the end goal.
It made me wonder just what it was that I am seeking with Searching for Orlena and just why I am prepared to continue with it two years in, other than just believing in the story (admittedly an important step). I can confirm that publication is the ultimate aim in this journey.
However in the meantime there is a comfort when I am able to engage in my own private writing whether it is the book or the blog. These snatched private writing moments indeed provide a stress release which on one level does seem paradoxical for someone who is lucky enough to write for a living. I believe this could be because I am letting my own thoughts, hopes and beliefs have a life.
The main thing above all else is that I am still writing! Let this journey continue.