Far from drying up from the idea that I probably wasn’t a famous author in a previous life, my muse seems to be perfectly resilient to the idea.
Also, I find that just the very idea I was Phil actually proved a bit of a “magic feather” to get me to up my game as a writer; the fact that I’ve exceeded him in quality and more than doubled the speed at which I release new works has turned me into an up and coming writer with a lot to hope for.
On the down side, I feel that I’ve had nothing to shield me from the pain of realization that I can’t explain away John’s life so easily and that these horrible memories of the Western Front are very likely real. Of late, I find that I’ve been able to dust off some WWI-related projects of mine that I simply hadn’t felt like finishing before, because I need some way to deal constructively with these feelings or they’ll destroy me.
One of these books is a sequel to the first fantasy novel I wrote, that includes a subplot about WWI. I finished the draft in early 2014 but my publisher didn’t like it, I didn’t like it either after they pointed out that all my doubts about it had been well-founded, and I’ve since done some very major edits to try to salvage the story.
The other book is a re-boot of an old project of mine dating back to 2010. The original was a well-written but kind of boring realistic fiction about a neurotic 20-year-old with serious questions about their sexuality and gender identity and a slightly odd way of looking at the world. It’s highly biographical, though I fictionalized a lot of details and added a subplot with the protagonist becoming an innocent suspect in a murder investigation to make it into a more coherent story. it had previously existed in two versions, one written as a NaNoWriMo project and one written for a publisher who later bailed on me when the subject of money came up.
I’m re-working it somewhat to not only make it a little truer to what actually happened to me in 2005 in London, but to tie in with a slightly fictionalized version of my memories from the war. Already I’m finding that little things from the story I already had begin to stand out in sharp relief when juxtaposed with my prior life as a doomed Tommy. Things that made little sense- like the impossible restlessness of the protagonist- suddenly make perfect sense. All these little details I culled from real events create an organic whole as the story begins to take on a more solid structure and fleshes itself out.
The emotions I’ve been facing during these projects are raw, but they’re real and they’re such a relief to bring to the surface after months of burying them in distractions. Now, it’s time to “open a vein and bleed,” as the old writing cliche goes.