My Motivations – Thanks to Nina George

One thing I’ve always struggled with as a writer was the motivations that I have for writing. Coming from a background in Christian ministry, I felt that it was always my responsibility to have some large world-changing reason behind absolutely everything of value I did in life. At the beginning of my deconstruction, I began to flounder without this larger purpose and it led to a very dark time in my life. The church has a way of making you feel like you’re nothing without God and his call on your life, so once I walked away from all of that, I struggled to find anything left to rely on. I felt empty and aimless.

It had been a long time since I’d really lost myself in a novel. I spent so much time reading theology books and studying scriptures that I’d forgotten how much I love getting lost in fictional worlds and being charmed by fictional characters. What was the point in reading for pleasure if I was supposed to be serving God every minute of every day? It was exhausting.

Maybe someday I’ll write a blog post about the severe levels of psychological and emotional damage that occurred as a result of my faith, but that’s not what this is about. After deconstructing, I still had the notion that all of my work had to have a large cosmological meaning that would change the world for the better. I couldn’t just write a story; it had to inspire global change. Needless to say, this motivation was very overwhelming and led to burnout even before I was able to begin.

It wasn’t until I read The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George that I really began to understand the beauty of novels. I wasn’t in the best part of my life. I was overwhelmed, exhausted, stressed, and coming out of one of the most challenging places I’ve been personally. I found a home in the romantic streets of Paris and was charmed by the bookseller protagonist on his book barge. I didn’t figure out how to change the world. Nations aren’t being brought to their knees over the words on the pages. But I found myself lost in a beautiful world, cognizant for the first time in years of the power of novels to remind us of the beauty of life and the presence of love. So instead of seeking to change the world, instead I am seeking to bring a little bit of a reprieve to my reader’s lives. Provide an escape from their stressful lives that reminds them of the beauty of life and the prevalence of love. Charm them with words of passion and romance.

I think that’s a noble enough motivation.

The Struggles of Novel Writing

As a 25-year-old late Millennial diagnosed by Tik-Tok with ADHD, sitting down and writing out my first novel has not been the most fruitful of my efforts. I know, it sounds crazy, right? I love to write. I sit and dream of the romantic scenes playing out in my head and I can feel the inspiration surging through me. But the second I sit down to type something out? I lose it. I’m aware of the student debt that I like to pretend doesn’t exist and the embarrassing anecdote I shared at work the other day even though my brain screamed at me to stop, but the story that was just a second ago streaming across my brain like a new 4K movie in an IMAX theater (that’s a thing, right?) is now lost forever. The words that I type lose all meaning and become mere rambles.

I’m not going to pretend that I’m anywhere near an expert on anything, except maybe the Art of Procrastination. I won’t throw out advice that I haven’t found to work in my own life, and even the advice that I do provide will come with the caveat that NOT EVERYTHING WORKS FOR EVERYONE. But the one thing I’ve learned holds true for just about anyone trying to write?

You have to write.

Get that shitty first draft out on paper. Vomit the emotions and the thoughts, spill the scents and sights all over the page. Let the gnawing feelings of inspiration come out, not caring how much of a mess it is when it’s first released. Write something that has no part in the final product because maybe you will learn something about your characters that you might not have otherwise known. There’s magic in the shitty mess we start with.

So here I am, reviving a blog that started years ago and has been dangling by a thread for longer than I’ve had that one jar of pickles stuffed to the back of the fridge. I thought about changing the name. I thought about creating a whole new site altogether. But the name Between the Days really seems to apply to my habits as a writer. Most of my day is either at work, driving to work, or working on my Master’s degree. I don’t have enough time during the day to crank out a romance novel, especially with my trademarked Procrastination™ techniques. But I find the time to write because I have to write. It’s who I am. I find time to write the words that are threatening to drive me mad, and the only time I have is Between the Days.

Come along with me. I can’t promise that this journey will be life changing or inspiring. But I would certainly love the company.

Yours,

Thomas