When the Battle's Lost and Won - NaNoWriMo 2012

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

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When shall we three meet again?
In thunder, lightning, or rain?
When the hurlyburly's done,
When the battle's lost and won.
-Macbeth (Shakespeare)

In one month I wrote just about 14000 words; of course, it is a far cry from how much I had wanted to write for NaNoWriMo, but when I reflect upon it I find that I have not done that much writing in such a long time! But of all those words, not all were written in 'The Crown of Life' and I am at this stage not much further down the beaten-track towards my goal of finishing it than I was a month before. You see, November brought about a climatic crux to my writing journey, one quite unexpected when I first entered the month. I suppose one may say it was more like an anticlimax the way things went, but be that as it may, it has been rather like a bombshell blast for me, splintering my carefully conceived plans into shards of plastered fragments and broken glass. 

I have tearfully jerked my messy but dearly beloved mound of 90,000+ word manuscript, my historical fiction novel 'The Crown of Life' on hold.
(This is not indefinitely, but it is definitely for a while.)

If that comes as a shock to you, it was even a bigger one for me and stabbing to the heart like being pierced with a heron-tufted war spear--a lot of blood (figurative), tears (real), prayers and sighs were involved! However, this decision was not come about because I grew bored of 'The Crown of Life'. If that were so, than it would be twice wrong and shameful to concede defeat and give up on my novel, or even lay it aside for a while. This painful climax was built not on the motives of boredom or weariness or lack of themes and plots to write about. So, why have I come to this decision? 

When I was twelve, I started a historical fiction novel set in the first-century A.D. in Rome, entitled, The Crown of Life; I think most of you who've been reading my blog for a while will know a little about it and my journey in writing it. When it started out, it had nothing but a faint semblance to what The Crown of Life is now and my writing style was atrocious--of course. But I wrote bit by bit, slowly like molasses running up a hill. I brain-stormed my head for ideas and plots, read books of culture and Ancient Rome and historical fiction novels for inspiration, wrote more (and edited and edited), discussed plot-holes and ideas with my sisters while drying dishes at the sink or with my writing friend on numerous evenings via phone; I edited again, was within end sight of the story (or almost), lost the copy of my story on the computer, sobbed my heart out, rewrote, changed plot-lines and characters, dates and... well, let us just say that in the four to five years since its birth, this story has grown to be one very, very near to my heart, and like Tolkien said of his Lord of the Rings series... "a tale that grew in the telling". So it has been with me with The Crown of Life. I have kept at this one story without turning to the right hand or to the left, simply because it was a story I loved, treasured and couldn't be parted from, even though I was often hard-pressed to drop it out for other stories. 

It has grown between the gossamer threads of my imagination and pen and so beyond it, and defied me with its vastness and depth. For in The Crown of Life, is a story reflecting heart-felt themes and struggles of human hearts: honour, loyalty, love and courage are there in vivid flame-like contrasts to the darkness of Roman intrigue, jealousy and vengeance, ancient family feuds, ambitions and painful betrayals portrayed within the story and the lives of the characters. It is a story of what it truly costs a man to take up his cross, and be a disciple Christ. So you see this story is not, nor ever was, a very simple tale! And I will be frank with you, through those many years of writing in it, I have encountered a lot of hurdles, many of which I never was ever really able to come out from. As I tried to overcome them, I only bumped into so many others. In ‘The Crown of Life’ I have had had to deal with historical accuracy in the history and culture of Ancient Rome and the early Church and of Nero’s intense persecution against the Christians. There's been a need to grapple with and get an understanding of the pagan religions and philosophy of the times to set a realistic backdrop for unbelieving characters in opposition to the Gospel. This story owns a huge cast of more than forty characters, four of whom are main characters each with a story of their own in their own right. As I mentioned above, the themes are rather big and exciting (not to mention the myriad of plots and subplots within the it). So, this is how the 'The Crown of Life' is and has been for so long, dear friends. And I have loved the challenge because it has been a story I really loved. 

But the more I have been writing in it, the more I saw just how challenging a novel I was undertaking. And since the beginning of the year, I have not helped realizing that despite my heart-felt love I really do not yet have the ability or writing maturity to take  on such a big-sized, multi-layered tale as The Crown of Life through the many hurdles that are before me and do the story justice and bring it to completion.  The discipline of Beginning, Middle, and End have just not been in me for very long--if ever at all--seeing this is my first full length novel. I never did it before save in a short story, and to be confronted with the task of doing it with such a large work now has been more than daunting. And I am still young, with a lot to learn both in writing and in life! I have often felt, as I do more clearly now, that in working on this major work for so long I have hindered myself from writing successfully other stories, and drained myself on a novel that I will have, hopefully, a better capacity and skill to write in a few years from now

And so, midway in November when I had all my head in the scribbling of 'The Crown of Life' and I was struggling to overcome scenes which have haunted me for so long, I finally had to decide if I was to put it on hold and start a new story or plod on with no end sight. I asked the Lord to lead me and show me which way He wanted me to go. Almost providentially the same week in which I was struggling and wondering, I read two posts (a guest post Jenny wrote here on Fullness of Joy, and the other by teen author Rachel Coker on Go Teen Write about when to give up on a story) that stirred me more into the direction I had been avoiding for so long. I talked it over long with my family who sincerely encouraged my decision to put 'The Crown of Life' on hold and to start a new story, and so it was!

But to what new story? Well! Does anyone of you remember a little story I wrote around early this year? It goes by the title of 'A Love that Never Fails' and it happily got published in a special edition anthology a little while back with other local writers. But it had been in me for a long while that I might have an opportunity to extend the story into a full-length novel and delve more into it. There is so much material that I can see yet to be written in it! So far 'A Love that Never Fails' has been a simple tale (at least on first glance), with gentler themes and with nothing as ancient and dramatic as 'The Crown of Life' but perhaps that is for the better. I have a feeling that depth and life does not always come riding along the steed of a world of intrigue and of dragons and kings and swords and poisoned chalices, but in the hearts of the men and women themselves. And whether we reach for ancient skies or a time more present, something of that flair of burning flame and truth may always shine forth in radiant colours and touch the soul.

And so I have taken up my pen to rewrite a 'A Love that Never Fails' and so far I have written a little over 3,000 words into it (p.s. that is the same size as the full short story but only at the beginning of the story!). I would love to tell you more about it, but since it is still in its early days I think I will let it unfold before you as it does with me. Lord willing though, I shall share a snippet post soon with bits of my NaNo writing, and maybe some Beautiful People too with brand new characters to introduce!! I am pretty excited about this, despite the nostalgia and sadness to be laying aside 'The Crown of Life' at present. It has not been easy, but you know I am not giving it up, just waiting for a time when I feel more ready to pick it up again. Meanwhile, I have got a new story to write! And with that happy thought in mind, I will sign of this long post, but before I do, I just want to offer a big thank you to all those dear young ladies who have contributed to Fullness of Joy in the way of guest posts; I definitely enjoyed every post--I hope you readers did too :). Thank you so much!

And it seems that while I've been away and off in my writing den, December has danced in with a flourish of heat and busyness,  taking me unawares and sweeping me off in its whirl, but I wish that in the midst of the business of the season we treasure the whispering joys of Christmas and of the wonderful birth of our Saviour! Happy Christmas time, dear friends :).

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3: 16 

8 sweet note(s):

  1. Oh, Joy! I admit to being disappointed 'The Crown of Life' has been put on hold, but I certainly understand how overwhelming it could be; for I know how the plot can twist around to the extreme and leave you trying to sort out the beginning bits of the story that now seems like a jumbled mess. 'Tis very overwhelming! You might remember the post I wrote up when my blog was still very young, about the major change and ridiculous amounts of edits I needed to do? Then, I suppose you know how dreadfully I procrastinated with research as well because of how difficult and dull it seemed. So, yes, I can certainly empathize with you, though I recognize 'The Crown of Life' would be so much harder concerning all of that--you've been writing it longer than I with 'Cry of Hope', and your era in history is even earlier than mine.

    Now I suppose that though I am disappointed that I won't be able to read 'The Crown of Life' somewhere in the near future, I am glad you have a refreshing new area to work out your writing talent in. I am looking forward to the snippets and Beautiful People (and knowing me, I will fall so completely in love with the characters in 'A Love That Never Fails' that I won't look nearly as regretfully upon the hold placed on 'The Crown of Life'). :)

    Happy Writing and God Bless!

    Emily

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  2. Well, this was a surprise to be sure! I will not say that I'm not disappointed because that wouldn't be true. * sniff, sniff* But I truly respect your decision and I admire you for your courage and strength to be able to make it. I can only imagine how difficult and soul-tearing it must have been, poor dear. *hugs* I hope my prayers were a help to you, even though you didn't know I was praying for you. :)

    I'm so excited that you will be writing "A Love that Never Fails"! :) Everything about the World Wars has fascinated me for as long as I could remember. I can't wait to read your Snippets and hear more about your "new" novel! :)

    Happy writing, my dear friend!

    P.S. I will be sending you an email soon, Lordwilling. :)

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  3. Dear Joy,
    You have made a tough decision, and may God bless you for your obedience in tearing those heart strings, albeit temporarily. I faced this decision at one time too, and can sympathize with its agony, though in my case God prompted me to continue on. Enjoy a fresh story, and new inspiration. We are so looking forward to seeing your wonderful ideas!

    I know God has some exciting journeys in store for you, and as fellow writers we cannot wait to see what they are.

    Thank-you for sharing this with us. We applaud you for your courage. :)

    Love and blessings,
    Schuyler

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  4. Oh, Emily dear! May I thank you for being disappointed that 'The Crown of Life' has been put on hold? It just means the world to me, to know that you really have liked so far what you've read of 'The Crown of Life' and I still do hope to one that you can read it in its full entirety :). But yes, it has been overwhelming, and a big huge 'jumbled mess'. I would suppose that you would have a bit of the same struggles I've experienced with 'Cry of Hope' with the depth and historical era accompanying the story. It is a challenge, isn't it!

    Well, the truth is, I have not shirked away from the challenge--that's not why I'm putting 'The Crown of Life' on hold only because I feel that if I attempt to complete it now, it will only fall flat of anything of what my true purpose and hope for the story has been all along in my mind and soul. I would have to put it aside and rewrite it in a few years to come (most likely no publisher would consider it even as a first novel!). But if I stop wringing my brain in effort, and work on something shorter and lighter while I increase my literary and intellectual skills I will be using my time better and get a story written well and maybe even publish it :). And eventually I will feel ready to pick up 'The Crown of Life', do the story justice and then maybe get it published. So you see in the long-run, you may have the chance of reading it sooner if I put it on hold now--strange, isn't it!

    Thank you, Emily, for your sweet encouragement! I truly hope you will come to love 'A Love that Never Fails' too; I am still learning to do so myself :).

    God bless you too!

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  5. Thank you, Annie! Your lovely words were a wonderful encouragement to me when I read them, and thank you so much, dear, for praying for me... <3 <3. I did not know, but I am so grateful to have a dear friend who prays for me. You're in my prayers too :).

    Yes, I am pretty excited about 'A Love that Never Fails' myself, though I have been feeling a little down after my decision-- The Crown of Life is so rooted in my soul it is hard to think of anything else! But it will come I know... the other day I got to chatting with my sisters about 'A Love that Never Fails' and about my story's involvement with WW2 and it made me feel happy to have started on it after all.

    Thank you! God bless, and I look forward to your e-mail (or rather, shouldn't I be the one sending you one? I've been so slack on them lately, I am so sorry!)

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  6. Dear Schuyler,

    In all honesty I was kicking and screaming not to come to this decision; but I feel the Lord definitely led me to that point whether it was what I wanted or not; for now it seems the way the Lord wants me to go in so we'll see where He will lead! But I don't feel very brave... right now, I feel a little scared rather I think :p.

    Oh! Thank you, dear sister, for your beautiful comment and for your encouragement! The ideas have been coming, albeit slow as molasses, but it is fun to ply out the new ideas for a story, and I look forward to sharing snippets of those ideas as they come :).

    In His love,
    Joy
    P.S. thank you for your LOTR review by the way! I feel tempted now to write up movie review of my own for those films!!

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  7. You're welcome, Joy! :) And thank you for including me in your prayers as well.* hugs* I'm so glad I was able to be an encouragement to you and I'm delighted that you are able to start feeling excited about "A Love that never fails". :)

    Technically I believe it is my turn to write you... I think. But even if it isn't I'm already almost done with my email to you so I'm going to send it anyways. :)

    God bless you, dear! :)

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  8. *hugs back* you were an encouragement, Annie, thank you! I will still admit to you that 'A Love that Never Fails' has been very hush-hush with me and not inclined to reveal its hidden secrets, but I suppose that's because I've not attended to it since November. Now that it's holidays, I hope to catch a few moments to getting to know the characters and all well.

    I just got your e-mail and Lord willing I shall try finding the time to reply to it within the not-to-distant future :).

    God bless you too, my dear friend <3

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