I’m done! Late nights spent with busy fingers and a sleep deprived brain produced a July 1st conferral and, more importantly, eight chapters and a complete outline of the novel growing in my mind. Next challenge? Finish it! When I set to outline the rest of Dead Highway (working title), I quickly found that it would have to be a Stephen King novel type length or split into a series. Chapter by chapter, each brief summary moved my characters forward, but in the end I was left with an undeniable truth: my characters were far from finished.
The biggest challenge I will face is not what I will write but that I will keep writing. I’ve spent the last two weeks enjoying my freedom and making up for lost time by reading book after book after book. The more I read, the more I feel it: an urge to let loose my characters and see where they take me next. I set goals at the end of my thesis and I will to stick to them.
- I will write when the urge strikes.
- I will write when I think I can’t.
- I will write when it’s the last thing I want to do.
- I will take risks.
- I will “kill the neighbor’s dog” and I will own it.
- I will never settle for easy.
- I will always let my characters lead and surprise even me.
- I will set goals, by chapter or by word, and I will meet them.
- I will finish my novel in the next year.
- I will finish the series.
Some of these seem very simple. Yet, it can be very easy to fall into the trap where you write what you think will be successful rather than what will be challenging and more rewarding. Do we always measure reward by books sold? I’d like to think that as writers our reward comes from staying true to ourselves, true to our work, and true to the muse that motivates us. Everyone wants to be loved. Successful. A gigantic hit! But how do you measure success if you lose part of yourself to obtain it?
Me? My characters lead. They surprise me. If I can read my own work and be gripped through action or emotion despite knowing what’s to come, I know I’m heading in the right direction.