Leaving the Novel in Progress (Part 2)

A follow up to my last post.

Yes, it’s been a while. Forgive the delay – I had a strange work schedule and several class projects to juggle.

Anyhow, back to the matter at hand, which can be summed up like this: “I’m writing a book, but I don’t know what it’s about.”

I can tell you the neurotypes of my protagonists (autistic and ADHD), the genre (fantasy), and the quest my heroes are pursuing (saving the source of magic from destruction). But I can’t articulate how it all happens, because the scenes in my mind are disconnected, devitalized. After fourteen years, I’ve finally accepted that the NIP isn’t worth all the trouble it gives me. All the stress, the research, the irritation of uncertainty. Why should I assume that years of hard work will be awarded with publication and good reviews?

I want good reviews very badly – more than I want publication. I want to know that my characters are diverse enough, and my worldbuilding original enough. I want people to reassure me that my protagonist is a worthy contribution to the cannon of realistic autistic characters (because there are far too many that aren’t).

And as soon as I realise this about myself, I see a pattern: my NIP and my self-knowledge growing side by side. They’re so tangled together that I’ve lost the feeling of adventure and empowerment that writing used to bring me. Now, my fiction feels like a way to prove myself, and that isn’t healthy. The relationship must either change or end.

For now, I’ve chosen to let it end.

Earlier this year I also realised that I was stuck in a depressive episode (a recurring problem since my teens). It has taken me five months for thoughts of continuing the NIP to bring me any pleasure. But the panic and resentment are still there too, so I’m not eager to try my luck. Maybe I’ll glance at my manuscript next week, just to read it, and maybe I won’t. My health is more important than scrambling after an old dream.

Now in my late twenties, I’ve finally grown up enough that my sense of self isn’t defined by this one passion project. My job as an tour guide has given me friendships, an understanding of the natural world, and a sense of responsibility for the place I live and the people I share it with. I have more than one passion now, and I feel balanced this way.

The NIP is still in my future, out in the distance. In the foreground are my studies: becoming an ESL teacher and a better, healthier person in general. I want to help destigmatize autism, and to do right by other marginalized communities as well. Cut adrift from the NIP, I’ve rooted my new concerns in this non-fictional world.

So although I can’t commit to posting regularly, I would like to expand the focus of this website. I’ve listed some of my ideas below – let me know what interests you, and I’ll do my best to write about it over the next few months.

Published by Emma Lammers

Writer with a novel in progress. Book reviewer. Occasionally crafty.

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