Muddled Mind Laughing Heart

I think that after weeks of knowing where I was going creatively, things are looking a little muddled. Perhaps it is this one chapter that seems to elude me as I am looking for closure. Perhaps it is the inconsistency that I am seeing in some of the novel’s structure, but I am more interested in going back and revisiting what I have written rather than moving forward.

This might say a lot about my life too, always looking back when I cannot seem to move forward.

Although, I have noticed that the work that I’ve done on the first part of the novel has helped structure this next part a bit better and maybe that is part of this too. Before when I was writing, I was just writing with the idea that this would lead to something but not quite sure what it was. Now, that I have a more concrete idea, it means that things have to be more, focused.

This is all good.

In fact, I know that by going back and revisiting, I have re-imagined certain sections. Other times, I have had to say goodbye (for now) to things that I’ve written and really liked as they no longer worked there.

The thing is, it all seems really messy. Chapters without headings. Paragraphs without homes. Within the structure, there is a lack of structure. This is fascinating and also a little scary because there is a part of me that is hoping that I haven’t messed the whole thing up.

I have made many different versions so everything that ever was still exists in one form or another. And I find that I am doing my best thinking in the shower. I can see the vision coming together, even if it isn’t clear on the physical page. As with all things, I guess that it takes time.

Then there are those moments, when I re-read something that I don’t even remember. I wonder if this happens to other writers. Do they look at something that they once wrote and wonder for a second who actually wrote it? This has happened to me more than once – particularly at work. But, this was different because it was like I was reading someone else’s story and not my own. The character and the circumstances were so real to me that when he said something funny, I laughed out loud.

A moment later I realized what happened. I made myself laugh. I laughed at my own joke.

I am going to look at all of this as part of my process. Although I would like to write a first draft all the way through and then go back, maybe that is not how I work. I know that when I was writing my thesis, I wrote various sections first before I started structuring each chapter and writing things out. In fact, the last chapter didn’t come together until two weeks before the thesis was due.

One thing that I’ve come to recognize is that when my mind gets muddled, then it is time to stop for the day, allow what I’ve written or edit to gestate and start up again tomorrow.

About Melanie J. Fishbane

My novel, MAUD: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery was published in 2017 through Penguin Random House on April 25, 2017. I hold an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Here I talk about my writing process, things I love, and creative people who inspire me.
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