Is there ever a time that you shouldn’t be starting a new creative project?
Since the completion of Haunt I’ve been thinking about inception (no, not the Christopher Nolan film) and genesis. The starting point, the origin, of a creative project. At this point Haunt is not a 100% finished product or project, but it’s reached a stage where it is, quite literally, no longer in my hands. It’s in the hands of (so far) two of my closest friends to be read, not as fellow writers or artists, but simply as readers. With all that time and energy building up inside me and nowhere else to go, what is a writer to do?
Well remember my blog entry at the beginning of December? I mentioned a time long ago when I’d started a fantasy novel as a preteen that never quite reached any legitimate fruition. To my surprise (and more so to the surprise of my friend and perpetual number one fan, Jennie) I have continued with that project. I was a little bit perplexed by the sudden resurgence of my feelings for this seemingly abandoned project and I couldn’t help but wonder if I was wasting my time. Until, that is, I came upon the above quote from Steven Spielberg (not Stephen King for once!).
I know the quote is about film, but it still applies to creative writing. “But I change; you change.” There are probably very few phrases that are as true for artists than that one. It speaks on so many different levels, doesn’t it? Yes, the daily grind will slowly transmogrify you into somebody that you didn’t even see yourself becoming, but quite rightly whatever you are becomes what your project is. It made me think about how much I’ve changed since the last time I took a bash at this fantasy project.
Not only have I changed over the last few years, but even just in the latter half of this year. I left a very good job behind, along with some amazing friendships, and took a less enjoyable job with a bunch of new people. They become good friends, but soon half of us were made redundant. Following that, I became even closer with those who hadn’t been made redundant in the first fly-by (including myself). Then we were told the campaign was over, and so were our jobs. With even few of us remaining, we all moved to a different job together and now I’m bonding with that handful of people even closer. All of this just since September. I’m not the same person I was when the year began.
I could list a hundred other things that have shaped my changes this year, but the biggest one is one that you, my readers, will already know about: I finished a book. I think it’s given me perspective and wisdom and courage that weren’t there before. Not only did I finish a book, but I did so against a backdrop of lots of critical change happening in my life. So this fantasy novel is now a mirror-reflection of me, and in the process I’ve discovered a little bit about myself: I’ve come a long way.
Not just that, but I’ve discovered that I’m capable of writing a crime/thriller novel, which I used to think I’d never be able to do. And in the process of writing a crime/thriller novel I rediscovered my appreciation for the genre that really captures my imagination and excites me: fantasy (and all it’s sub-genres, particularly science-fantasy).
In fantasy you don’t just create characters and situations… you create an entire world.
So just how early is ‘too early’ when it comes to starting a new project? I think as long as you’re following the King’s wise words (Stephen King, I refer to, of course) and stay faithful to what you’re working on, it’s never too early to step into something else. Does your heart have to be in it? No, I don’t even think that’s essential. Your writing comes from one place: the brain. Both the vocabulary, grammar, prose etc. and also the imagination and the story itself. Your brain is a muscle, it’ll need exercising. Even if your new project is fruitless, it will keep you writing and keep your mind active.
So that was a bit of a brain fart. Okay, I’m done. I’ve had it.