The Existence of Jonathan

It has been 5 years since I have written a novel. A lot has happened in those 5 years. I have got a degree, left school and started to pay tax (boooo). I can’t remember how I began writing ‘Written in the Stars’. I remember having a dream about the ending and writing it down in the dark. But somehow that ended up as a book written on my laptop. How?

I always assumed I did this consciously: that I thought ‘I will write a book now’ and then I just did. But perhaps I didn’t. Here I am, sure this blog will follow all the processes of being a writer and, somehow, I have missed out the most important part whilst it was going on infront of my nose. Writing.

You see reader, I have suddenly, out of nowhere, started to write my next book: ‘The Existence of Jonathan’. I’m loving it. This feeling is what I live for. The excitement of a blank screen and a head of ideas is, although largely mingled with terror, intoxicating. I wrote a chapter. Then another. And then some more, and now I can’t seem to stop. I am hooked.

I am still waiting to hear from agentville, but I’m filling my time in much better now. Jonathan is, so far, quite dark. I am trying to condence very adult issues into a YA book and it is very hard. I have the bones of a plot though, and I like it. I am starting to find a narrative voice now, one that I am trying to reduce down to almost fairytale. I’m beginning to get a clearer idea of John and his plight now too, and new threads of narrative have appeared halfway through writing something completely different. I love that. It is scary sometimes where my imagination can take me, but I’m enjoying the ride.

So far I have just ‘finished’ chapter 7. Of course, it is not ‘finished’ at all. But I have drawn the skellington and I will go back and flesh out the body later. My typing can be awful and not all my metaphors work. I can get carried away with imagery thinking: ‘Oh my, this is great’ and then read it back and be ashamed that I ever thought it was any good. Some of it needs burning, no one should write like that! But I am largely pleased with it all so far!

I just hope this agent, or at least someone out there, is willing to take a chance on me!

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4 Responses to The Existence of Jonathan

  1. Chapeskie says:

    I can totally relate. The experience of writing fiction is nothing like what I thought it would be – mostly because I don’t think while I’m doing it, or don’t think the same way I do while doing similar tasks (including academic writing). When I’m “really writing” the story just kind of happens and ends up on the page (screen) in front of me.

    I’m a very cognitively-oriented person and definitely an over-thinker but when it comes to writing, the stories just unfold as I write; it’s as if the documenting and creating are one unified action rather than a conscious two-step process of having an idea and then translated it into words… when it’s good, that is. Other times, when I try to force it, I can’t get out of my head and every decent sentence is a battle.

    As for the adult content, some of my favourite YA books from when I was a YA were ones that dealt with adult topics honestly and openly and didn’t pull their punches. In fact, those were pretty much the only YA books I enjoyed, the rest seemed like patronizing allegory or fluffy OMG-I-don’t-know-which-boy-I-like-best-at-cheerleading-camp drivel. Obviously, you can’t write Tarantino-esque graphic scenes and expect to be published under YA but kids can deal with pretty heavy stuff if their intelligence and maturity is respected – in fact, they need those kinds of stories to help them figure out their own lives and deal with their own fears, struggles and conflicts.

    Anyway, that’s my two cents! Congrats on graduating, btw!

    • You have a way with words! I often feel like I’m documenting. Sometimes, I am quite sure that I am not creating at all, only documenting the scene that is unfolding in my head. So true! I will remember that and tell it at parties.

      Thanks for your thoughts on YA books too, I’m really pleased you see it that way. Some of my favourite books from that time deals with those kind of themes too. Sometimes though, I’ll just sit and read all the back of the YA books in the library and think ‘My… Jonathan is nothing like these’. But maybe that is a good thing 🙂 Trying to do some research at the mo though, just to check out the competition. Can you think of any dark YA examples I should read?

      Thanks! 🙂

  2. Chapeskie says:

    Thanks! I’m so jealous reading your posts, I’m stuck studying for a MASSIVE exam that will decide my future in grad school and have no time or cognitive energy for writing at all. And it’s just that intrinsic-to-writing experience that I miss so much, that “je ne sais quoi” feeling of the story just coming to life 😦

    As for darker YA, titles that spring to mind:
    -“On my honour”
    -“The true confessions of Charlotte Doyle” (not as dark, other books by Avi were dark too but I’m having trouble remembering titles),
    -“Izzy, Willy-Nilly”
    -Anything by S.E. Hinton (a little dated now but if you read it in context of the 60’s she dealt with some darker themes)
    -“Catcher in the rye” (it’s YA, right?)
    -“Princes in exile”
    -“Number the stars”, “Autumn Street” and “Find a stranger, say goodbye” by Lois Lowery
    -“I am the cheese” (Cormier’s other stuff is pretty dark but usually has some sf/fantasy elements)
    -“The trial of Anna Cotman”
    -“Roll of thunder hear my cry”
    -Scot O’Dell’s stuff always creeped me out too but wasn’t necessarily real-life-dark so much as darker possibilities of extreme situations
    -Chris Crutcher’s stuff was kind of dark – I don’t remember it as well, though

    FYI, I haven’t read most of these since I was a kid so I can’t really vouch for actual quality in the writing etc… 😉

    Have you read Bettelheim’s “The Uses of Enchantment”? I haven’t touched it in years, and he’s a somewhat controversial author on other topics, but from what I remember he had some interesting insights into the psychological/developmental uses of fairy tales (the dark original ones, not the Disney-ified ones) for young kids and I would extrapolate similar ideas to teens and more mature darker themes.

    Good luck!

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