…and then I lost it!
I’m talking writing today, although I guess the same aspects apply to mental ill-health! Things get more and more difficult to deal with, more stuff gets thrown into the mix and, at some point, you simply lose the plot altogether. If you’re going through that at the moment, have some virtual ((((hugs)))).
As you may be aware, this week I’m trying to work on the synopsis for my latest novel, Agoraphobics Anonymous. I came up with one draft and threw it away immediately. I then spent a fair amount of time reading my “How to” books, taking notes and scribbling ideas, after which I wrote a fairly decent second attempt.
Now, I’ve been a member of Authonomy for a few years now, and it’s a great place for new writers to get advice. My writing’s improved in leaps and bounds since my earliest drafts of Hospital Corners in 2010. I decided to post my synopsis there for some feedback, and the general opinion is that I appear to have missed out the plot!
The consensus is that I’ve focussed overly much on the characters and their particular issues and not actually explained what happens to them in each chapter. I’ve been thinking it over and come to the conclusion that although I do have a plot (and it got thicker as the various drafts progressed), the main feature of the novel is the characters themselves.
Those of us with mental health problems will understand the importance of the journey we’re facing/have faced. If I had to write a synopsis of my time in hospital and the two years since then, all I could say is “I was miserable in hospital. When I got out I started filling my time with things that helped me stay vaguely happy.” The details of those activities aren’t the important part, in my opinion, but the fact I started 2011 alone and still depressed and started 2013 happyily loved up and busy.
I don’t know…maybe it’s the black & white thinking that’s part and parcel of BPD, and I’m simply not “seeing” the importance of the plot details. But I think I’ve got a synopsis I’m 90% happy with and that doesn’t happen often. Besides, I wrote the book to describe the characters. I deliberately didn’t focus on the exercises they undertook; I didn’t want this to become a “How to Overcome Agoraphobia in One Easy and Twenty-Seven Difficult Steps” book.
What do you guys think? Writers and mental health bloggers alike. Is the plot, the day-to-day details of recovery, the most important detail to focus on? Or should we be content with learning that the characters were once full of fear but overcame those fears in order to live a happier life?