Time to be creative

I always like to start with the bad news: I’m currently furloughed from my much-loved day job of being editorial director at a group of real estate news sites and publications. This is, of course, due to the pandemic and the lack of advertising income. I may get my job back later, I may not. We’ll see. In the meantime, there’s no reason for me to search for another job because a) I can manage an income hiatus until I get my job back, and b) if I do lose my job after all, I want the payout.

Which leads me to the good news: for the first time in 20 years, my week days are my own. I was furloughed back in April, so I’ve had a few months now not working – and gosh, is it ever glorious. Spring in Vancouver has been so beautiful, the summer is warming up, and I’ve been out enjoying the city and surrounding nature every day.

I also decided from the start that I would take this time to work on new manuscripts. I sat in the park on a warm day in April with my notebook, and did nothing but stare out over my beautiful city and the ocean, and think up stories. Honestly, that’s pretty much a perfect day for me.

As an English Lit graduate and a lover of British classic novels, I’ve been wanting for a while to write up some contemporary reimaginings of some of those great works. No, not Pride and Prejudice, although yes, it is my favourite book of all time – it’s just been done too often. But Curtis Sittenfield’s Eligible – a fun, modern version of P&P – is a good model of the kind of novel I’m interested in writing.

So I spent that day in the park thinking of which other classics I’d like to reimagine, and how I would do them. I came up with four potentials: Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Far From the Madding Crowd, and Middlemarch. Each of those is very much of their time (and frankly a bit bleak), but each has a wonderful, strong, female protagonist whose empowerment and agency translates perfectly to today. I sketched out ideas for each, in terms of how the story might take shape in today’s world, then picked the two I’m most interested in writing for now.

I spent the next weeks plotting out both the Wuthering Heights and the Jane Eyre reimaginings. In doing so, I found I have developed a distinct style of plotting, based off what I learned when writing my debut novel. I’ll go over this method in my next post.

Despite the unknown of being furloughed, I’m so happy to have this time to really dig in to my writing – and also to learn how long it takes me to write a novel when I can do it full-time! I’ll report back on that when I’ve written up the first draft of these two manuscripts. Wish me luck!