Kelly has been a huge inspiration to me. All of my stories (either finished or not) have been written with at least one of her songs on my playlist, but often many more. It’s not just that they relate to the story or a character, but they also relate to me. I’m not saying I can literally identify with all of the songs, but there’s always something in it that I can connect to a situation that happened to me, even if for Kelly it has a different meaning. You might wonder how this is related to why I write…
I finished writing my first novel Starstruck last summer and as I waited for feedback from critique partners, I decided I needed a new project. I told my beloved friend Kim (also critique partner/first reader) that I wanted to write a Mulan-inspired story, and we started brainstorming. Eventually, I came up with the idea for Elements and I couldn’t wait to write it. So far so good, right?
Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Until I realised that despite having so much background information, my characters, the start… I didn’t have a plot. I had the problem, yes, but where would it end, and what would happen in between? I honestly didn’t know.
So for the past months I’ve been trying to come up with details, hoping this would fuel me into coming up with the actual plot. Because without a plot, there’s no use for me to write it (I’m not a pantser!) I mean, I can write, but I will get stuck and everything will be wrong, and I’ll just throw it out. So no, pantsing my way through wasn’t an option.
I thought and talked to Kim endlessly, and nothing worked. Then yesterday, when I was brainstorming during my break at work and came up empty-handed again, I hit an all-time low. It had been months and I still didn’t have a plot. Was I even telling the right story? I didn’t know anymore. I wondered why I put myself through this misery. Why spent so many hours on something that might never be published, or even see the light of day? Why go through with it if I’m not enjoying what I do? I was so frustrated by all of it, I was close to tears (and trust me, that’s not a good thing when you’re at work!)
At the end of my break, I gave up for the day and went back to work. In the evening, I changed my CD from Taylor Swift to Kelly Clarkson and drove home. Second Wind started playing, and suddenly everything clicked. It’s not just that I might finally have found information that will end up being the plot for this story (I really think I have!), but it is also that I realised why I write. In particular, this particular quote contributed to that:
“Don’t you know that it’s the low that makes the high so sweet.”
That’s exactly why I’ve been beating myself up over this story. It’s mine to tell – and I want to write it. Because when you finish a story, there’s no better feeling in the world. But it can’t always be that ‘high’ feeling, you know? Having ‘low’ feelings, no matter how hard, no matter how much I wanted to scream and tear out my own hair, those moments are part of the game. In the end, you will find a way to fix that story.
And it will be better because of the lows, and the high is so, so sweet.
Tell me: Have you been in similar situations? Why do you write?