I’ve never understood when people say that a fictional thing (a book, a show, etc.) has changed their lives.
A little over a year ago I wasn’t feeling great. I’d just finished a three year writing course at university, and a combination of essay writing about books I’m mostly not interested in (and ruining the ones that I am) and teachers saying that you have to get your work published in literary journals and apply for competitions because publishers won’t even want to touch your work if they can’t recognise your name. I loathe essays, and I don’t write literary fiction, the only kind of fiction this country seems to be interested in. I was losing the passion for the only thing I’d ever been passionate about, and the one thing I’d ever been half decent at.
Almost ten months ago I was becoming depressed. I couldn’t find a job - in editing, in writing, or even in hospitality or retail - and the government decided that if you want to be getting money for them you either had to be studying full time or applying for 20 jobs a fortnight. I’d only finished studying and there was nothing else that caught my interest, and there’s barely 20 jobs to apply for every two weeks, and that’s with me living in a well populated, urban area (I’d hate to imagine what it’s like for people living out in the country, where there’s five stores and nothing else unless you want to drive for half an hour). And of course coming into this depression was making the heaping amount of anxiety I already have much, much worse.
I was just losing the will to go on as I was, and I was mostly doing it for my friends and family.
At the end of my course I started reading Skulduggery Pleasant and my god, it was the best thing I’d read in three years. It made me smile, it made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me went to throw the book against the wall (but I’d paid like $20 for that book, so I couldn’t). It made me remember all the reasons I love reading and writing; to illicit such emotion is an amazing skill to have.
This made me feel great about writing, and I began my own novel as part of nanowrimo 2015. As of today I’m in the rewriting process (second draft), and the first draft had approximately 40,000 words; the most I’ve ever written for any project.
But of course we still need to fast forward a bit. There’s this whole, like, six months filled with some kind of depression and some awful anxiety and that one time I had a job for like a month but it made the whole thing worse and let’s skip over that part.
Let’s skip to now. Because of Skulduggery Pleasant I remembered my passion for my life’s craft. And if I’d never started reading that book and writing my novel, I’d never have applied for a screenwriting course at another uni, which we’ve been told is extremely difficult to get into; there’s countless applications every year, and there’s probably about fifty people in the (first year) class; I was part of the mid-year intake, and there’s ten of us, maximum.
Without Skulduggery Pleasant I wouldn’t be writing a novel I adore, or planning another one for this coming nanowrimo. I wouldn’t be planning my own show and slowly tapping away at the pilot, and I wouldn’t be planning two more with a friend I’ve made in this course that I’m enjoying so much more than my other one. I don’t know where I’d be.
I’ve never understood when people say that a fictional work has changed their life but now I do, because Skulduggery Pleasant has legitimately changed mine for the better.