This past Monday, Timehop reminded me that it was a year ago this week that I started drafting a novel with no title. I called it the Salem Project for no other reason than the story takes place in Salem, MA. Some day, I'll get around to coming up with a real title, but that day is not today.
Anyway, I got about halfway through this contemporary project about a lesbian teen trying to get over her first girlfriend while an arsonist targets the Wiccans in town. Things slowed but I powered through. I attended an amazing writing retreat in Wales that April, wrote over 30K in one week, and finished my first draft.
I took a few weeks off from the story and then dutifully dived into revisions. But then something interesting happened.
In May 2015, I came out as bisexual.
And I stopped writing.
This story that I had spent months writing no longer held my interest. I worried that writing four books about queer girls was simply my brain's subconscious attempt to get me to recognize my own queerness. And now that I had figured it out? Well, I guess that was it then. No more writing for me.
Despite a couple half-hearted attempts to return to that story, I couldn't get lost in the world. So I didn't write. For months. I thought my run as a writer was over. Sad as it was, I thought I was done.
In August I went on date with a nerdy (and adorable) scientist. A few weeks later I asked her to be my girlfriend. We fell in love. Moved in together. Started living our happily ever after. She knew I was a writer (we had early on talked about my previous novels), but I still couldn't bring myself to actually write. I fell into a funk. I still very much identified as a writer, but what kind of writer doesn't write for six months*?
When November rolled around, something exciting happened.
I got an idea for a new novel. A high fantasy idea that would require loads of world building and character development. There was a magical system to decode and a political history to uncover. I spent NaNo prepping and planning and figuring out how the whole thing worked. In December I started drafting and made it 20K words into the story. I was thrilled to discover my writing hadn't died with my coming out. To find I still had things to say.
One night in January, I was talking to my girlfriend about my current project. I told her about the magic system and the world building and how much I loved occupying a world that wasn't directly my own. I explained how the seemingly dead Salem Project had bored me during revisions because it was a contemporary story with no magic.
And as soon as the words left my lips, I knew what I had to do:
Add "real" witches to Salem of course, with all the fun fantasy/paranormal powers I wanted.
With that burst of realization, I set to work crafting a system of Witch Clans for my Salem Project. I added a new lady love interest for my MC to complicate the whole "getting over her ex who happens to be in the same Witch Clan" thing. I threw out more than 60% of what I had written before to make the plot more personal. To increase the stakes. Increase the danger and the internal angst.
Basically, make the whole thing more fun.
So now, as February rushes to a close, I'm a solid 40% through my revision. I'm having an absolute blast with this revision. And I know that the writer in me didn't die when I came out. It simply had to cocoon itself until I settled into my new skin. The writer in me has resurrected itself and is here to stay.
Because no matter what life changes send my creativity into hibernation, I know it will always be there. Ready. Waiting for the day I stumble upon the right story.
*Turns out, plenty of writers go through inactive periods, and that's totally okay! I just didn't realize that at the time.