Hello there, You.
I will give a warning that this post isn’t going to be about how Book Two is finished and I have a release date and everything is great and hey actually I’ve got the other books written too and everyone can have copies for free yayyyyy.
This post is not about that. This post will be more about my recent realizations in writing and in life in general. And maybe I’ll throw in some book stuff at the end.
“How’s book two going?”
“When can I get my hands on the next book?”
“I can’t wait to see what happens next to the characters!”
These kinds of questions and many others have been coming in since, well, Mark of the Corripian was published. And every time I hear them I slap on a smile and give my typical answer of “I’m working on it. But I’ve been busy. Y’know. College and stuff.” *Insert soft chuckle*
But the truth is – my first confession – that I haven’t really been working on it. Book two has been minimized at the bottom of my computer screen – fully written, but unedited – for months now. I’ve opened it a few times but haven’t spent much more than twenty minutes on it in one sitting. How? How could I do this? This is the question I’ve been asking myself. If you knew me when I first started writing this series (or even if you’ve read my earlier posts), you will know how much this story meant to me. And whatever you thought it meant to me, it meant so much more because there were things about writing and fleshing out my characters’ lives that helped me in ways I still can’t explain to others. But now – seemingly so suddenly – the meaning of it has fizzled out. I finished Book Two on a high note and then something happened: I stopped writing.
Here’s the thing about writing (and most things, really) – you have to keep doing it in order to keep up your talent, interest, etc. I also like drawing, but I don’t do it often anymore so when I do draw, I end up feeling like I’m wasting time and that I could be doing something far more beneficial. That’s a little like what happened with my book.
And now follows my realization: The world is changing.
When I began writing Mark of the Corripian, I was sixteen. I was a fairly confident sixteen year old, but shy and pretty lonely in the evenings because I had nowhere to go and not a large group of friends. The world was a big place, but I had only seen a small part of it, and I was convinced that what I saw was what everywhere else was like. Sure, I knew that there were starving children and wars and horrible injustices going on all around me, but I was comfortable in my own little bubble of safety. And that bubble was often pretty empty, so I found a way to fill it: writing.
Thus began my initial journey. I developed this story originally to entertain a few of my friends, but also to fill my terribly bland bubble world. And for a long time my plan succeeded. My characters filled a hole in my heart that I hadn’t realized was there. I hid behind the story when struggles came up in my life. I wrote about my own experiences, but I covered myself in the guise of fictional characters. Then, gradually, things started changing.
Firstly, half of those friends I wrote the story for have faded from my life. Sure they’re still there (and a shout out to any of them who might read this!), but most have taken different paths in life, and our paths do not cross as often as before. This has been a big transition for me. Friends have come and gone before in life but there’s a difference when a friend from elementary school goes to a different school and you never see them again…and watching people who you have spent half your life with moving in a completely different direction as you. Since leaving college, I’ve experienced what it’s really like to have “long-distance friends,” and it’s hard. It’s so much different when you’re used to seeing these people every day at school, knowing everything about their life, and then now you see them again or hear from a mutual friend that they cut their hair or transferred schools or changed majors… You send them a text or call them and comment about it and are informed that this happened “ages ago.” What? How could I have missed that? This transformation from knowing these people more than I know myself to not even knowing something so seemingly trivial as when they got a new pet fish has been one of the more difficult transitions in my life. And when this change started happening, I used my book as a shield. I hid behind the story because my characters, though they grew as the story progressed, never really changed. I knew my characters, my characters knew me, and we had a mutual understanding of how things are and how they always will be.
Or so I thought.
Referring back to my realization, I now understand that change is evident, and whether or not we like it, it is necessary. I had created this elaborate world in the pages of a book – printed words that now cannot be altered – when the world around me was leaving me behind, alone and oblivious in my bubble of safety.
I can’t exactly pinpoint what triggered this realization. But I will say that my time in Korea certainly fueled it. Being so far away from home, away from all I had grown up in and the people who have known me since I was a child, I was really able to see things clearly. My parents were thousands of miles away, and so were all the people in my life that I had always tried so hard to please. So I could, for the first time it seemed, make choices without directly influencing them.
And I will say that it was a freeing sensation. I was really happy. And in case you’re wondering, no I didn’t do all those crazy stuff that I never could do with my parents knowing my every plan. Because, when I was on my own, I was able to realize that even though I could do all those things, I had no reason to. I found that my greatest joy comes from helping other people. Even just passing on a smile warms my heart and excites me more than any of those things I could have done, now that I was away from home. And more than anything, I gained a better understanding, through my own study and prayer, of who this God is that I’ve grown up believing in.
So here’s confession number two: I don’t find as much joy in writing as I used to.
This has also been very difficult for me to process. It falls along the same category as losing a friend because my writing was always there for me when I didn’t have a physical person to talk to. But lately writing has become a chore for me, and I feel very disconnected from my characters.
I know this must be hard for those readers who loved the story and want to know what happens next. And if you’re reading this and think that this means you won’t be able to find out what happens next, I want to stop you right there because
I WILL FINISH THIS STORY.
I’ve gone too far to stop now. It’s been slow going for a long time, but I’m ready now to get back to writing. I have changed a lot since I initially planned out the story, so I can guarantee that the subsequent books will reflect those changes. I will not stray from the story, granted, but I do want the story to hold more meaning than it originally did. For a while when I wasn’t writing, I would only read nonfiction stories because I found fiction to be simply a waste of time. I wasn’t getting anything out of it. And then my final realization hit me:
Sometimes it’s okay to escape reality. Sometimes you need to take a breath of fresh air when everything around you is uncertain, when everyone is changing, when you have no idea what in the world is going on. Sometimes you need a story to read that transports you away from all of that for even just a moment, so that you can be a kid again. You can enter your little bubble world and be completely oblivious to reality. Because when you turn that last page, you will inevitably return to the “real world,” to your realizations, to changes.
So please, don’t give up on Book Two, or me, or on fiction in general like I did for a while. Because I think there is a time to accept reality, and there is also a time to embrace fantasy. But there must, like everything else, be a balance of the two.
I want the readers of Mark of the Corripian to know that it is through these realizations and many months of questioning my reasons for writing that I have again learned to enjoy writing, and I am getting to know my characters all over again. It’s like seeing an old friend you haven’t seen in ages and catching up right where you left off before.
Xavier and Zenia, though absent for a while, will soon have more adventures to share so please stay tuned. ;)
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1