Writing Journal – Day 1: Starting something new


Unless you’re Stephen King or Joss Whedon, writing about writing can seem a little redundant/self-important – especially if you suspect you don’t know what you’re doing half the time. Before starting this post, these are some of the thoughts I had about the prospect of journalling my new book:

  • Why are you writing a blog post instead of your book?
  • Shall I finish off that tub of Ben & Jerry’s or keep it for an emergency?
  • These words you’re writing? They should be going IN YOUR BOOK.
  • Does this count as an emergency?
  • I really should be writing my book.

Starting something new is always exciting. It’s like the first bite of a chocolate bar. (Or, OK, the first spoonful of Ben & Jerry’s.) With writing, there’s exhilaration in the sense of discovery. I’ve been reading a lot of great books lately about real peoples’ experiences – Somewhere Toward The End, Pure, Not That Kind Of Girl  – and it’s inspired me to examine my own experiences and how they might work as stories.

Why write a journal about it? Mostly because I’m really excited. Previously, my fiction work has stuck almost exclusively to the fantasy/horror genre. (See: The Sentinel Trilogy. Camp Carnage. My short story Dead Air.) This, though, feels different. I’m 32 years old and while I still have a ton of ‘genre’ stories I’m desperate to tell, I’m also noticing that the door’s closing on one part of my life, and I’m opening doors to another.

So this new thing… It’s a book – working title: Nowhere USA, meh – that I have no plan for and so no clue where it’s going. I don’t know if I’ll finish it, or if it’ll even be readable. All I have is an idea and a feeling, and I’m going to try to get those down on paper. I’m referring to it as ‘autobiofiction’, or ‘faction’, because I plan on fudging fiction and my own experiences to create something that’s sort of about me, but not really. (Because who wants to read about me, anyway?)

Nowhere USA is maybe my swan song to youth. The concept – a father and son go on a road trip through California – is inspired by a real journey I undertook in 2005. It’ll be sharp, emotional and (hopefully) funny. Something I’ve noticed about being on holiday – supposedly, you put your life and all its troubles on ice. Except, with more free time to ponder and process, those troubles can thaw out and start staring you in the eye.

The plot of Nowhere USA is something I’ll discover along the way, like a trail of M&Ms. All I know is that it’ll be about secrets, lies and a lot of good eating. So far I’ve written 500 words (that’s less than 1 per cent if the book ends up being 80k), and already it feels different. By taking my own experiences and filtering them through a fictional narrative, I’m moulding my memories into something fresh. Fictionalising fact. I can’t wait to see where this goes.

(And in case you’re wondering, yes, I finished the Ben & Jerry’s. It was delicious.)

Are you writing something new? Tell me about it below!


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