A few days after that fateful poem, with my brain still full of thoughts of “Should I write?” and “Do I have anything to say?” and “Am I making excuses?”, I decided to re-read Stephen King’s On Writing. I had read it years ago, at a time that I wasn’t ready for his advice. This time it hit home.

One of the most helpful (for me at least) things he said was it’s okay to forget about outlines. He told me I didn’t need them if they didn’t work for me, even if I didn’t know how to move things where they need to be. He told me to just listen to my characters, and they’d tell me themselves where they need to go.

It might sound silly to think that characters I made up, in a world I made up, in a story I made up, might have voices of their own that I could listen to. He was right though. So many times I’d tried to write an outline of my novel, and force it into shape, and every time I had failed. This time, I thought about my characters and where I thought they needed to be, and just kind of let that stew in my head. A few days later I woke up with my first new idea for a scene in years.

That scene turned out to be the prologue. In record time I had 3800 words written, and I had the beginning of my novel.

I’d like to say that was the moment it all came together, and I started writing every day and lived happily ever after. Of course it wasn’t though. It still took a lot of time to build a regular habit, and even longer to finish the book. But that was when I finally had real belief that I could write the book.

It took three more years to finish it. Three years of writing on my lunch hours in the office, writing for a half hour before I started work every day, fighting through periods of doubt, exhaustion and just plain being too busy. But I did finish it, in November of 2021. Then came the huge job of editing it, which I completed in July of 2022.

Now I’m fighting with myself again to let it go and to put it in the hands of other people I trust to read it and give me their feedback, so I can edit it again. I’m getting there, and more importantly, I’m writing new things while I fight with myself. I’m trying to get smaller pieces published to get my name out there. Working on this website is part of that effort. So even if I’m not pushing on the novel 100% at this moment, I’m still pushing myself on other pieces of the grand design to someday quit my day job.

There’s been a lot of other things that have helped me along the way, and I’ll talk about them more in the future, but this is the big arc of my story, and it will do for today. Neil Gaiman and Stephen King don’t know I exist, but they’re a huge part of the reason I’ve gotten this far and I’m so grateful they take the time to share their thoughts, processes and inspiration so that people like me can learn from them. They were right in their advice that I just had to do it every day, but it was a long road for me to get to the place where I could take that advice. While I regret the lost years where I wrote nothing, I am so exceedingly glad that I did, at least, come back to it. Writing is one of my life’s greatest joys.

Thank you for being here to share the journey with me.

1 Comment

  1. Whiteley Eric

    Right on keep up the good work

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