Fucking hell thats been a tough slog.

Let me start by saying, I almost quit my novel and writing this month. I was done, over it. Every time I thought of writing, my head hurt and I got tired.

"But last post you were arriving in Brazil and were rejuvenated!"

Well yes and no. I was reading Robert Olen Butler's Perfume River and realised a lot of what I liked in my own writing, I managed to get a lot work done on what was then my first chapter. Being that I added in the characters name and got deep into his motivations.

But I got so deep into an idea I had of the character, Deene, that I began to feel dirty and angry reading / writing him. He seemed so malevolent and I got to a point where it felt disconnected from the original intention of the character that I realised / told myself, 'no one is going to want to read about this guy. They're especially not going to want to see his story in reverse!"

So I left him and edited all of the new closeness from his chapter. I thought I'd go ultra barebones on him. All external, all Hemmingway. I didn't like that either. I got a headache.

Then in Brazil, I left Deene and tried writing another chapter that needed updating from the writers meetup, Juliette. I needed to reduce the impact of the girl on her storyline and add in a little aside for her. But it just felt too hard, and in spite of being in a beautiful country and with awesome people, after writing, I got a headache, I became tired and irritable and was just in a shitty mood.

I started reading The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero which is a making of book about the movie, The Room. It was light hearted and funny and also affecting. I decided I would not write another word of my novel whilst on holidays. I would have fun in Brazil and be in the moment. I would have a holiday!

On this holiday my novel didn't start feeling better. It became a shadow that I didn't want to face. It was easier to look away, to consider this whole writing thing a phase. Another Nathan phase they would call it.

I finished reading The Disaster Artist, and enjoyed the light hearted read that it was. I finished the book on the planes back to Australia and started watching movies. I think I watched 007 Skyfall, which was fun and a bit dumb, which is what I needed. But all of this stuff which I will call "outskirts stuff" – being: light hearted drama, dumb action, thoughtless entertainment – gave me the inspiration to remove the malevolence from Deene. I had never intended him to be completely malevolent: He was a religious fanatic, sure, but he had a message.

So I dialled him back a shit-tonne and all of sudden he seemed ok again. Somewhat relatable.

But again, I didn't know where to from there. I was still struggling massively with Juliette, and until I was feeling good about things I couldn't push onward with the later parts of the novel so I was stuck one more.

Then just the other day, me and my girlfriend had breakfast with friends and hung out in the park in the sun, and afterwards we went to the movies for a double-feature: Dunkirk; and, Baby Driver. Both were amazing movies in their own right and my mind was sparking on so many levels!
At home that night, we began watching The Handmaid's Tale on SBS, and whilst watching I had an epiphany about my novel:

When I started this thing a year ago, I wrote it in a way like a movie. The way I saw what was happening was like a movie (which had its own troubles when I started writing). So, why don't I make my novel genuine to its original intention and order it in a way like a movie or TV show?

So whilst watching The Handmaid's Tale I began cross-cutting the Chapters 1, 2 and 3 as though they were happening at the same time (which they were), and BOOM! Everything changed, it felt good, the writing looked good, it read awesome, and it now had a tension and feeling to the narrative and it ironically embodied more of the "soul" of why I was writing!

My girlfriend read the entire chapter back to me aloud and not only did she say it read way better and felt good, but in her reading I enjoyed it and it felt like she was reading someone else's work. I was re-inspired and now I can't wait to get back to my novel!

So the lesson I have learned, which is in a way similar to the last post, is that, you can't get to step 5 without first doing step 4, and 3 before 4 and so on. You need to go through the shit to get something halfway decent. You can't give up. You need to hold yourself to account. You need to be disappointed in yourself if you don't measure up.

The other lesson is to take time and experience other art and entertainment. Take a step back and maybe someone else or something else's vibe, soul, story, drama, comedy will give you that light bulb to re-assess what you're doing. Sometimes you need a little bit of distance to give yourself a chance!

Every little bit counts!

P.S.
Here's a pic of me at Write Club tonight. Photo credit: Heath Davis.

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