This week, I finally got back to writing my third book, Cold and Dark. I hadn’t done any writing since 31st December 2018. With studying for exams in January, then exams in February, then going abroad, afterwards struggling to catch up with semester two and my reading, I didn’t even want to think about Cold and Dark. Throughout these past three months, I did open the document to try and write but I just could not. I overthink a lot, especially when it comes to my writing.
It was Thursday morning and I was in a lecture called Methods of Inquiry. I really really hate this lecture. It’s a waste of time and to make matters worse, it’s at 8am. I try to get some work done during this lecture like editing my notes. However, this Thursday, I impulsively decided to open Cold and Dark therefore, I spent a good hour writing. It felt really good to be back.
I only have nine months left to finish Cold and Dark and time is ticking. Nine months is not a lot of time when you’re busy with life. For starters, I know that I will not be able to do any writing during the summer due to work and the gym. Currently, with university, I know that I have to find time. I intend to finish writing the book as well as edit it by the end of June. After that I will hand out the first complete manuscript of Cold and Dark to various English and History teachers for feedback, which I hope to obtain by the end of summer. All that would remain is re-editing, feedback, polishing… and then it is done. I swear that that day will be the second best day of my life. The first best day of my life will be the day I set foot back in New York City.
I wish I didn’t have university or work or anything to do with my life so I could dedicate it solely to writing. I’d get a lot of writing done. It’s not the first time that I even put a book aside for a year since I simply couldn’t write with being so busy with life or having no motivation to write.
One thing I realized recently is that “motivation” is the worst excuse. Sometimes you just don’t feel like doing something; you don’t have the motivation to do your work. Open the Word document, remove every single thought from your brain, focus on your book and start typing. Focus. That’s what I tell myself and now “motivation” is no longer an option for me when it comes to writing.
Even though my third book has taken me six years to write it so far, I never get bored of it. I love my characters and I love shaping them into the story. During my course at university, I have learned that it is characters that shape the plot. A plot is not enough to “make a story”. Characters leave an effect on whatever situation there is in the novel which results in a chain reaction. The best example for characterization is Shakespeare. He managed to bring out every type of human emotion in his protagonists through the use of speech and action. This can be easily seen in Hamlet, Othello and Twelfth Night. I look up to Shakespeare a lot.
Most importantly, I don’t want to write something that a reader can simply enjoy for its face value. Personally, I love literature and want to read more and more. However, I also like the concept of the contemporary work which is so popular today. I want to create something that is both; literature and contemporary. Something complex and deep. I don’t want to just tell a story; I want to express myself and bring out a meaning. I want to create art.
Thus, to answer the question I get so frequently from people, “What is your third book about?”, it is the above. A work of art. Or at least I intend it to be so when it is finished. When Cold and Dark was still a baby, back when I was in Form 3, it was solely fantasy. When I entered sixth form, my History teachers left such an effect on me, due to their teaching, that I developed Cold and Dark to be something more than fantasy; fantasy based on reality. My characters represent the issue of “black and white” and the plot is based on the French Revolution of 1789. Yes, I have a love for history. I blame my sixth form history teachers. They made me love the subject to the point where I’m basing a book off of History as well as current societal issues. It’s complex.
Furthermore, Cold and Dark may be the only book I am working on but my mind works faster than my typing. A book which I will write someday is called Life Membership. Sometimes I end up thinking about the idea so much that I end up brain-storming the entire plot and just want to write it all down. My mind is a few books ahead of my actually writing. Nevertheless, you will never believe where I got the idea for this book from.
I used to study Accounting at Advanced Level last year and one of our topics was about life memberships for non-profit organizations such as clubs. In the accounting world, you have to record everything and life memberships are considered a long-term liability. I was doing my homework one day for life memberships and this idea suddenly hit me and I ended up not doing my homework. I swear it was as if a light bulb lit up in my head. It was so instantaneous. My mind took such words and completely changed their meaning to them. The mind really is funny in how it works sometimes. So yes, I got such an idea from accounting, a very unlikely subject.
Basically, Life Membership is about a world where over-population has reached a critical state to the point where to be able to continue living, one would need to “buy” more time. Everyone is granted sixteen years of life from the day they are born. On their sixteenth birthday, if one cannot pay for more time, they are executed. Sounds gruesome to die so young.
I have read a lot of dystopian novels and they have truly affected me and my writing. I have never written a dystopian work however I certainly wish to venture into the genre. Dystopian novels have become very popular these past few recent years due to of course, climate change and our perfect democracy that hides the fact that we live in authoritarianism. I believe such novels like The 100 and The Maze Runner truly are mind-blowing. Such futuristic situations could actually happen and in just a few decades.
What I must make clear in advance is that Cold and Dark is not a dystopian novel. It comes off as that but it focuses on societal issues more than corrupted governance. It truly is a reflection of what I see in today’s world. What I know for sure, is that writing is a way of expression. It is a form of art. When one cannot speak, they should write and that’s what I do.