When I was ten or eleven years old, I wrote my first novel. It was about this group of teenagers who had always spent most of their time together and had to face the first summer apart (doesn’t this sound terribly like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants? It sadly does). The distance between them would make them realise and discover new things, feelings, problems and secrets that would have remained concealed otherwise.
It was easy. I wrote it all quickly (almost 300 pages!), without planning. And then I kept on doing that. I wrote another series about some friends who played in punk bands – this happened when I was in my Green Day moment. I filled pages and pages of notebooks. I was thirteen years old. Then I wrote a lot of fanfiction with my friends – so many pages of pure bullshit. American singers and actors would speak the perfect accent of my hometown in Italy and we found it extremely funny.
And then, after that, I wrote my first romantic comedy. A naive, stupid novel that had some good moments – I wrote it when I was sixteen, maybe, I can’t really remember. Funfair Lights was the title. I made one of my best friend read that. My ex-boyfriend read it as well, and I played it cool but instead felt very frustrated when I discovered that he made his mom read it as well. Isn’t it a cruel violence? I give you something private, something I am excited and scared of at the same time, and you make your mother read that? Fuck it. Anyway.
After Funfair Lights, I wrote the first thing that had some sort of dignity – a rom-com as well. Why Do I Want Him.Writing novels was – really – easier that what it is for me now. I would just write. I would try to go on with the story without putting too much effort in the planning. With the last two (the rom-coms), I started discovering that some planning was necessary. Even so, I was convinced that planning should not limitate my own fantasy. If writing a chapter made me realise that what I planned was fine, but not as good as it would be if I took another unexpected direction that came to me only when I kept on writing, I would go with the new option. No doubts about it.
Now I am working on the first novel that I feel may go somewhere. Not because it is good or whatever (it’s probably not), but because it’s mine. I am working hard on it. I had my professor read it, my classmates and friends read it, and I am writing in the language I love: English. I want it to shine, I want the story to take me away.
Since I started studying Creative Writing and taking the work of the writer more seriously, I have stopped abandoning myself to the reason why I started writing in the first place: to enjoy it. To love it. I really did. I wanted my “readers”, whether they be my brothers, friends or whovever – to feel like they couldn’t look up from the page. They needed to know how the story went on. It was a matter of life and death. They needed to go on! They had to! No matter what! The house is on fire? Fine! I need to know whether they will finally get together first.
I have a very strict structure of chapters now. They need to be perfect, not only by themselves as chapters, but also as a group of single bits that need to form a coherent, entertaining story. When I walk, I think about structure and plot and how I should go back to old chapters and make everything fit. For example, I could have forgotten to mention a detail about a place or a person that would become more important later. So I needed to go back and re-read what I wrote and try to make everything fit. Fitting ends.
But I miss being an unaware writer. I would go on and on, and writing would be terribly natural. I miss it. I have been studying and practicing and reading rules and I know that they are all important, essential tools that a writer should know. But my objective for the next month will be to be more like the writer I was: brave, imaginative, happy-go-lucky. With the young me in mind, I am sure Plan B – Love at the Time of Brexit will only come better.