“Richard.” Blane greeted him with a gentlemanly nod of his head. Richard returned the gesture politely, if not a little reluctantly. What did he have to say now? Richard wondered warily. He finally turned to Amelia with another smile. She looked resplendent and fresh. She was wearing a navy, polo neck jumper and jeans; her hair was tied up into a neat pony tail, her fringe behind her ear. Her skin was clear, her eyes were wide looking at him, and the colour glistened brightly. She must be shocked to see him unannounced. He hurried to start conversation to reassure her.
“How are you?” He enquired sweetly, trying to loosen his stature; he was standing too straight, too rigidly and he was far too aware of his nerves. Though, everything did come down to this now, the entire summer and all their heart aches, new and past; it was so important to get it right. He relaxed his shoulders and tried to let his emotional guard down. Amelia struggled to respond to his simple question and was angry at herself. She nodded before managing to stutter, “I’m ok.” She smiled awkwardly. He smiled too. She was cute looking when she was nervous. “And you?” She mumbled. She tried to relax. She liked the feeling of excitement that had come with seeing him, even if the steps towards easy conversation were shaky.
“I’m good.” He responded genuinely. He let a moment of silence linger. He just wanted to look at her. If things ended very badly now, he may never see her again, and wanted to always remember her face and her eyes, and the body he had kissed, and held. The girl in the dungarees and Arsenal shirt had long since grown into this woman before him, the most incredible and decent woman he had ever known. She was more than he deserved, but that just made her worth fighting for. He cleared his throat. “Listen…” He began, trying not to sound imposing or too serious…
This is a passage from one of my favourite chapters from Latest Mistake (tried not to reveal any spoilers!).One of the questions I am often asked is where the title comes from. It is a song by Mandy Moore, which you can listen to here:
The novel, although not autobiographical in anyway, is deeply personal to me. A lot of my experiences in life, my emotions and thoughts are explored through this story. The song has also been instrumental to my creative process which is why I named my novel Latest Mistake.
I often find myself leafing through the pages of the third draft fondly. I know the characters and their story so well. I know Blane, how loyal to a fault and guilty he is. I know Amelia, how fearful and yet brave she is. I know their parents, their friends, their backstories; I know things that never even appear in the novel. As odd as it sounds, it’s like they’re real people. Re-reading sections feels so familiar and yet, rather sadly, I feel as if something has changed quite drastically. Now that it’s complete (well complete until an editor hopefully gives me a list of changes they want me to make!) I almost mourn for my characters and their story; we’re not a team anymore, they aren’t in the foreground of my mind anymore. I’m distant from it. While writing Latest Mistake, inspiration could strike anywhere. Sometimes I would be at work and I would hear the sound of Blane’s voice for example, telling me something new, or expressing emotions about what was going to happen to him next. Now that it’s complete, they have gone silent. And I miss them.
Then I am of course conflicted. I tell myself I have worked hard to achieve this and deserve an opportunity to move on and explore new ideas. But part of me doesn’t want to. Why this is, I have not quite figured out yet. Fear perhaps. I recall confessing to a friend my fear of having no new ideas after Latest Mistake was finished.
Ultimately, I try to remind myself that the beauty of the written word is that one can go back over stories and enjoy them time and time again. So no matter how many novels I end up writing, I will always have this story and it will always remain important to me, because it was the first one. And I feel ready to make a commitment to a new story. I am ready to have new characters in my head, to feel inspired and be creatively productive more often. What I need now is a plan.