It’s November already? Why did nobody warn me? If I’d known the year was going to fly by so quickly I would have prepared myself for the rocky road ahead. To be honest, this entire year I’ve felt a little bit like Sandra Bullock in the film Gravity. I’ve been drifting a little bit, trying to work on a project, striving to survive, and all the while the year has been punctuated by a few disastrous moments. Well… “disastrous” may be a tad over-dramatic, but as far as years go this one has had its challenging moments.
So now it’s November, known the writing-community-at-large as National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. This year I’m not taking part in the event in the straightforward “write 50,000 words (or more)” sense, but I am going to make it my target to have the second (edited) draft of Haunt finished before the end of the month. Then, finally (and with a great deal of anxiety) I can start giving it to people for them to read it. It will be the first time I’ve ever written something that hasn’t been read at all throughout the entire process so I’m pretty terrified.
Getting to this point has made me think a lot about the genesis of my novel and the process it has taken to get here. There was actually once a time that Haunt didn’t have a title at all and the synopsis was very different to what it is now. Namely: there was no crime/murder element to the story at all, which inevitably became the main focus. I was initially inspired simply just to write about my experiences with spiritualism in a novelistic medium. I was going to touch on tarot, crystals, tea leaf reading, scrying, glass divination and, of course, ghost hunting. I was surprised when a lot of that stuff took the back-burner and the ghost aspect was what prevailed. I still think it was a wise decision and the right decision, because having too many elements would have overcomplicated the story (which, in turn, would have made it too difficult for me to write. I am, after all, still an amateur).
I even remembered that I didn’t name the two main characters, Josh and Beth. It was my boyfriend Scott who made that decision (upon my insistence that he help me pick some simple and effective names), so I love the fact that there’s a bit of his imprint in there as well. I’m actually really lucky to have not one, but two people who inspire me and force me to carry on. Stephen King has Tabitha King, Neil Gaiman has Amanda Palmer, and I have Scott Gillespie and Jennifer Bartle.
My muses – Scott and Jennie.
Speaking of my idol, I found an article by Stephen King last night (you can click here for it if you’re also a fan of the man himself). It’s basically just about the music you choose to listen to when you’re writing. King says, “I have a playlist for every novel I write.” It made me really excited to read that, because I do the same thing. Very shortly thereafter I realised that that’s probably true of most writers out there. But it also made me think about what I’ve chosen for Haunt and what creates the right atmosphere in my mind, so here’s a little Haunt playlist:
- Haim – Falling
- Paramore – Proof
- Seabear – Arms
- Bastille – Haunt (Yes, it was this song that gave me the idea of the title of my novel.)
- Haim – Don’t Save Me
- Chvrches – Lungs
- Sky Ferreira – You’re Not The One
- Yeasayer – Ambling Alp
- Hayley Williams – Teenagers
- Chvrches – The Mother We Share
- Bastille – Of The Night
- Haim – Send Me Down
- Paramore – In The Mourning
As you can see there are a few bands that make multiple appearances, and they’re the bands that inspired me the most to continue writing. The Bastille track titled Haunt was obviously one of the biggest influences on me. The song itself isn’t about ghosts or murder or anything like that, but there’s a line in the chorus that actually underlines the theme of my novel.
I’ll come back to haunt you,
Memories will taunt you.
It makes a lot of sense in terms of the novel. I actually wrote it without a theme in mind (without even having thought of the novel containing a theme whatsoever), but when I took a step back and saw the forest for the trees I realised that everybody in the novel has something in common: They’re all haunted by memories and seeking redemption of some kind. Some characters have already found their redemption, which has strengthened them, whilst others are still striving for it. I was shocked and happy to find that a theme had found its way into the novel independently of what I’d intended.
Inspiration comes in many forms. This song is a key instrument to me.
So here comes the update part. I’m on page 121 of 203, which is roughly 60% of the editing done. I hope to increase that number by at least ten percent by the time Scott gets home from work in a couple of hours. I’m getting really excited about taking the project to the next step. In fact I may have got a little bit ahead of myself the other day and made a fake novel cover for my own amusement. I like doing these things during my little flights of fancy because they help me consider what life could be like if I end up obtaining my dream one day. I’ll share it with you before I go: