Charting New Territory

I’ve never done this before. I’ve been a writer for a lot of years, and even in my heyday when I was churning out short stories and novellas at a rate that stuns me now, I never tried this. But I’m doing it now, and I’m kind of liking it.

I finished my first novel in 25 years last week, a novel that I started back sometime last summer, before I saw Avengers in the theatre. That landmark is significant to me, so I remember. It was a fun ride, sometimes frustrating. Typing “The End” was the most exhilarating experience I’ve had for a long time. I remembered what it means to be a writer.

How I have missed the writing process; the characters, like badly behaved children, never doing quite what was expected of them. It took 2 days and ten thousand words to work around a surprise thrown into the works by one of my characters. But she was right, I think. In the end, her actions made the story stronger, tied things all together in a way I had never imagined.

I love the magic that is writing. Starting a new work is like footprints in fresh snow, creating something there that never was before. A few days ago, I started a new project. Its beginning was a little less romantic, more like doing a face plant in a snow bank. It’s a story that was demanding to be told. But here’s the kicker. I will never show it to anyone. Ever. This time, it’s all for me.

The story has grown to over twenty five thousand words in six days, the words pouring like water. It’s easy right now. I know this story. I don’t know how I know it, but I do. It’s there, and it wants to be created, demands it. And because it is for my eyes only, I worry less over the turn of a particular phrase, or whether I’ve used “said” once too often in this chapter. It’s liberating and exciting.

I have never done this before. Previously, I created for an audience. I thought about what might interest others. This time around, I don’t care. I am more than willing to admit that no one cares about this particular story except for me. And I care a lot. Suddenly, my previous goal of a thousand words a day is laughable. The words don’t stop. Two, three, four thousand words seems inadequate. The story simply must be told. It’s telling itself.

The hard part is coming. I know that. I suspect that I am heading at breakneck speed to the place when the story dries up. A few thousand more words, and I may be hanging over the edge of the cliff. With my previous novel, the last sentence was written in my head before I ever typed the first one. This time around, the ending is out there in the ether. I can’t see it.

I may get stuck, may leave this story behind for a while at that point, may let it stew in its juice and work on something else. I have ideas, lots and lots of ideas. But I’ll come back to this one eventually. I want to see how it ends.


28 thoughts on “Charting New Territory

  1. Thank you for this! Of all the advice I’ve been given by other writers, of all the writing classes I’ve taken for help in getting my book rolling, I think you’ve inadvertently given me the best nudge and way to look at writing my book in complete confidence. Write for yourself. This is such an awesome Duh! moment. I know that this will make things go a lot smoother in my head. Woo-hoo! Thanks again. 🙂

    • It had definitely changed the landscape. I have down jumped off the abyss into the part of the story that I don’t know yet, but I’m still getting up from the table with a lot of words on the page. And it’s still fun. Because I don’t care what anyone else thinks. This is MY story.

      Good luck with your project!

  2. What total bliss, writing for yourself and not caring one fig whether others see and approve or not! That’s got to be sooo different from meticulously outlining, plotting, drawing up storylines, etc. Enjoy the ride!

  3. I completely agree with the above comment. I never realized how paralyzing it can be to try to write for other people instead of yourself until a couple of years ago. Now, I know I will never go back to that.

  4. That’s so great! I tend to do that a lot, write stories for myself. Who knows if they’ll ever be seen by someone else, but for now they are my own. It’s liberating indeed.

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