Fiction Withdrawals: When a Novelist Writes Nonfiction

Writing is writing is writing. Right?

Writing is writing is writing. Right?

Fiction, nonfiction, academia, memoirs, novels: When you’re a writer, how much does it matter what you write, as long as you’re writing? I miss my fiction so much right now!

First off, I want to say I am having an absolute blast compiling “Writing for You: A Novelist’s Guide to the Craft of Fiction.” It’s a ton of fun. It really is. I’m excited to share all I’ve learned from my experience writing, and I’m honored to think the idea for the book came about because people suggested it to me as a project.

I have, however, been working on this book for a while now.

With book III in my Herezoth trilogy set to release May 31, all editing of that project is more or less complete. I need to update the formatting for the paperback version to be appropriate for an ebook after doing one more document-wide search to eliminate adverbs like “just” and “really,” and I’m good.

I’m pleased with the finished product of The King’s Sons. The edits suggested by my beta readers have made a huge difference. But now I’m done with that novel, and I’m having fiction withdrawals.

Seriously. I miss writing my fiction so much! At first, the writer’s handbook was a nice change of pace. The writing, though, is different in tone and structure than fiction is.

When you write fiction, there’s something about connecting with your characters that you simply can’t get from other kinds of writing. Sure, other kinds of writing can improve your grasp of language and make you a better writer overall.

But the emotional response, the emotional fulfillment, isn’t the same. When you’re meant to write novels, you feel the change, deeply, when you write something else for a while.

I suppose it doesn’t help that the subject matter of my nonfiction has led to lots of reflections about my fiction, which keeps fiction firmly on my mind.

I kind of–okay, I’d really–like to go back and reread my first unpublished novel again. There’s some stuff there I could use to improve a particular subplot of my NaNoWriMo novel from 2012, which needs tons of work if I hope to do anything with it.

I’m also really, really longing to get to editing that NaNoWriMo novel. A couple of the main characters speak to me in a personal way; Princess Melinda is one of my favorite characters I’ve ever written.

I’m not reading fiction either

Blogging, freelance projects, and the two upcoming releases have me so busy that I have to admit, I haven’t been reading lately. Not reading fiction. And that’s only making the fiction withdrawals worse.

Screen Shot 2013-05-06 at 12.06.02 PM

May 31! Mark your calendars!

Not only am I not writing it, I’m not taking it in either. It’s a horrible mental drought! I’ve been sluggish mentally and drained because of it.

I have a Dickens novel I’ve never read on my Kindle. I also have lots of freebies I’ve downloaded and I’d love to read. I haven’t read Tolkien since eight or nine years ago, as a college student, and I want to reread The Lord of the Rings. I have been meaning to start at least one of these things for months now.

I guess I’m writing this post for a couple of reasons.

  • To remark what an effect reading and writing fiction have on my mental state. These things help me to be happy and productive. They gear up my brain and maintain a creative aura around my thought processes. As a Catholic Christian, they make it easier to be a faith-filled person who is in awe of God’s creation and can respect and contemplate the human condition.
  • To motivate myself to stop wasting so much time watching sitcoms on Netflix and get to reading and getting more work done on Writing for You.
  • To remind myself that we all have trouble balancing our priorities in life. The key is to get things back in balance when you realize they’ve shifted. No need to feel bad about it. Just fix it. You’ll only waste more time and energy regretting time and energy already wasted.
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16 responses to “Fiction Withdrawals: When a Novelist Writes Nonfiction

  1. Victoria,

    I used your blog post about the word “it” in my post today. I put a link to your article in my post. You can view my post here. I hope you like it but in the instance that you don’t and would like me to remove the link to your blogpost, please let me know and I will remove it. Thanks. JccKeith:

    http://www.bitemybook.com/2013/05/right-words-vs-mediocre-words.html

  2. Debbie Johansson

    I have a similar issue as I can get bogged down with my studies and writing a lot of essays. I’m trying to get back into doing re-writes on some of my novels, but find it difficult to make the switch from non-fiction to fiction. I’m reading as much fiction as I can and writing some short stories to ease back into it. Sure, all the experience has helped my non-fiction writing, but I’d rather be doing fiction. Good luck with it, Victoria!

  3. Haha, I know all about trying to balance six projects when you only have time for one. πŸ™‚ I am also writing non fiction (and a tiny bit of fiction when I can squeeze it in) at the moment. Except I’m writing school books for primary school kids. (Elementary school).
    It’s been about 10 years since I last read the Lord of the Rings. I first read them when I was 13-14, in Dutch, and then a year later in English. It’d be interesting for me to reread them too, there is such a huge difference between being 15 and 25…
    Ah, I’m gonna stop now. This is reminding me of all the creative projects I want to do and the real number, I now realise, is closer to 20 than 6!

  4. We all have times like this when we’re feeling creatively dry and we have to reevaluate. The first step is recognising what’s happening, then you can identify what you need to change. Then the trick is to put those changes into practice. πŸ™‚ I hope you get some of your creative pep back soon.

  5. One of the benefits to fiction is that it’s always willing to take you back when you have time. πŸ˜€

  6. I’m getting ready to take a break from writing for a couple of months, and hope to catch up on my big TBR list. I just published a non-fiction and enjoyed it — I feel like I’m connecting to the reader, I guess, rather than the characters, trying to teach something I feel is important. I’m about to send book 2 of my trilogy for production. Right now, I’m about burned out! But the idea of getting to read… so exciting! (And I do reread LOTR every single year… I love it!) Good luck with this project, Victoria – it’s going to be great!

  7. Your posts always make me think. I am glad you are passing on your expertise in writing fiction in a nonfiction book. I am a nonfiction writer primarily, and I realize that readers do not connect emotionally with what I write. Grammar? Only geekies like me get emotionally attached to it.

    • I LOVE grammar, hahaha! I love a scientific approach to language. One of my favorite nerd pastimes, when I was learning French and Portuguese, was comparing their grammar and etymology to each other and to Spanish. Fascinating stuff!

  8. Pingback: Lessons learnt: Tips on how to get involved and write better | writesaidlaila

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