Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

First Blush

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I started writing a novel this weekend. Even typing that sentence is enough to make me feel both giddy and utterly terrified.

I'd been nursing the idea for a while, at first just a word that gradually grew into a baby universe. For a long time, I was almost ashamed of the idea. Anything that you really love is always faintly embarrassing, because it reveals so much about you and what you care about. As time passed, even if I was a little shy to share it, the pressure of the idea, the solidity and realness of it, kept tugging at me.

FInally, I found the guts to share it with someone, under the disclaimer that, "this might be completely stupid." They loved it. I spent the rest of the afternoon taking notes, bouncing ideas off of my partner, pacing. It was a busy weekend, filled with unusual family obligations and conference events, but every time I found a spare moment I poured it into this new project.

Starting a new book is a lot like starting a new relationship, at least in how it makes you feel. You want to focus all your energy and attention on the new thing, to the exclusion of all else. Sleeping and eating can become secondary concerns. You're prone to mooning about and daydreaming. Your poor friends have to listen to you babble on about how in love you are, how excited you are, how the writing is going, what is happening next. You're smitten.

There is nothing quite like that first blush, the new rush of energy you feel for something you are just beginning. It is transformative, transcendent. It changes your perspective and makes you see the world anew; it also gives you the power and momentum you need to make the first big push into a new project.

Like any relationship, of course, the trick is to use that great new energy while it is there, and then to develop a new way of working once the honeymoon phase is over. Once the fire of that first passion burns down to a glow from an inferno, the writing can become a challenge again. The same roadblocks reappear, the same distractions and doubts. It'll eventually get hard again.

I'm already beginning to strategize how I'll keep the fire lit and carefully tended to once this rush of desire wears off, how I can remember the love I feel for this new idea in a few weeks or months while I'm dragging my ass through the desert once again. But also, I'm trying to make the absolute most of this energy, this excitement, while it is still here. One of the benefits of staying in good writing shape all of the time is that you can take advantage of inspiration and these rare surges of energy when they arrive.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Natalie Zina Walschots

Natalie Zina Walschots is a music writer, poet and editor based in Toronto. She writes for a number of publications, both in print and online. Natalie's second book of poetry, DOOM: Love Poems For Supervillains, was published by Insomniac Press in the Spring of 2012.

Go to Natalie Zina Walschots’s Author Page