Some history. I wrote a book earlier this year about dragons. After I finished it, I got a few crit opinions, and they pointed out some fairly major structural problems. I could have rewritten it. I will someday, I'm sure. But that happened to have been the second time I'd written this same story, and it was ugly to realize that I'd gotten it wrong yet again. I began to wonder if I wasn't a good enough writer to handle the story.
So I shelved it, which sucks. If you've ever shelved a book, you know what I mean. I shelved the book before I even thought about drafting a query.
'Cause in the background I had another project kicking around. It felt like a very commercial, very hooky idea, and I just loved the main character. It was the easiest idea pitch I'd ever worked on. The book is a walking elevator pitch.
I had about 5,000 words done on this thing, and I figured to heck with the complicated dragon mythology, I'm switching projects. Which brings me to this August.
About two weeks ago, I promised myself I'd write every day until the book was done. When you make a stupid promise like that, you've got two choices: either give it up in shame or keep it. So far, I've kept it, and the book has been rolling out. It's amazing how fast a book can happen when you sit down every freaking day and pound out 1,000 or 1,500 words. I'm coming up on 40,000 words today, and I expect I'll be done before Sept. 1.
I was telling my wife last night that I probably should be jaded by now. I'm doing at least a novel a year nowadays, which must make me one of the most prolific unpublished writers on the planet. (I believe there's another word for that and it rhymes with snidiot.) But I'm not jaded. Actually, I'm insanely excited about this book. It's been so easy so far, and even though I know there are major things I have fix (like oh by the way, I cut a main character in the middle of a chapter last week—just poof!), the whole architecture feels solid.
And all of this is leading up to a Revelation. See, I'm working like a dog lately. I mean, I still have a full-time job and kids, one of whom just had oral surgery, and an old dog who's been throwing up in her mouth for the last month or so despite the vet's best efforts to figure out what's wrong ... and then I decided to add another hour or two of daily writing on yet another book that, based on my recent past, is statistically doomed. I should quit, right?
But that was my revelation. I don't want to quit because I like this. I guess I'm writing now for the same reason I wrote when I was 12 and 15 and 22 and 31—because I just like to tell stories. It's what I do. There's a certain freedom in knowing that. There's a weightlessness in the knowledge.
I'm not saying I don't want to sell. I do. And I'm not saying I'm done improving. I'm not.
I don't know how people are chosen for their lots in life. I don't know what capricious god decided that I should only want to write my little stories, then make me spend decades first admitting it, then a few years realizing I sucked at it, then more years painstakingly learning to get better at it. Maybe these questions are beyond me anyway—when all that really matters is I'm two weeks away from finishing another draft, and I think that's pretty cool.