Friday, October 24, 2014

A Pinch of Nostalgia a Hint of Creativity a Load of Determination: The Ingredients to Writing a Successful Novel by Jessica Ashley Dafoe





While reflecting on my journey from intentional hopes of writing a novel to the end result of actually having it completed and ready for publishing, I've attempted to mentally note the ingredients needed to bring it all about. I'm not a perfectionist when it comes to writing, I'm not a grammatical genius, I don't have the intrinsic and unparalleled ability to write a whole work in iambic pentameter or sing-songy sonnets. Holden Caulfield, Elizabeth Bennet, Dorian Gray, my characters are not. But they are mine and are a representation of the facets of life that make me smile and motivate me, daily.

I enjoy finding humour in the everyday, in random situations such as the moment I fall face down on the subway stairs and the majority of the manic crowd scurries and hurdles around or over me, all aside from a young boy who helps me up with a cheeky grin on his face as if to say, "Get it together, lady." I brush off my ensemble, pick up my purse, thank him with a sheepish demeanor and swallow my pride, thankful that I didn't become a tread-marked victim.

I also incorporate emotion and am inspired by what I witness around me; A gentle exchange between a couple at an adjacent table to my own, tears shed over excitement or sadness in a given moment by a friend or acquaintance. I delve into my own experience and, just as an actor does when attempting to get into character, I find myself drawing on past moments in order to relate to the possible emotions experienced by my characters in a created scenario. It's through this vulnerability and by chucking the fear aside of revisiting possibly negative, emotionally charged moments that the best descriptions are created. The characters come to life and are made identifiable, made real. Fear masks creativity. Rip that mask off and just give 'er. Let go and create.
Of course the most pertinent ingredient which allowed this creative spark to result in a full manuscript involved one trait that often is a bit absent from my days, unless a sizable fire is lit under my, by times, lazy  and sizable backside. In the past, when expected to complete a task, of course determination is cranked to the max. However, when I have expected something of myself, ' fits and bursts that dwindle to nothingness' is the more appropriate way to describe its presence in my days.

Determination has been the key to the entire project. Of course some talent or skill is required, of course a creative spark and remaining in touch with experience is necessary, but without the big D, a project like this would be sunk before it ever began sailing.
Fearless determination with a hint of creativity, a pinch of nostalgia and perhaps a dab of wit, a titch of an appreciation for the lighter side of things, a smattering of zeal, a peppering of homegrown nuttiness and a talent with words; there you have it, the ingredients for a debut novel or any creative project YOU want to get underway.

It's all about the big D! (Get your minds out of the gutter, determination, determination, determination.)