Last night at 11:30 p.m. I finished A Hollow Bone and emailed it to my local editor who will read it a second time and give me her thoughtful feedback. This is beyond an exciting accomplishment for me. In the 1980s I dabbled with a romance novel. Twenty years later I developed characters and a plot for another novel that still lies in digital and paper files unfinished. Sometime during the years I worked on that novel, Angel Miranda, the main character of A Hollow Bone, came to me with a nugget of a story. She would not leave me alone, nor would her daughter Sophie. So I began to see what might become of them through a few fragment stories, stories that satisfied me but did not spill beyond their separate borders. Angel and Sophie waited patiently for over ten years for me to wake up.
In the spring of 2014 I reached a reckoning point in my own life, and I decided that if my long-held desire to write a novel were ever going to be fulfilled, I would have to actually begin writing, not just several times a year, but several times a week, even daily. I told myself that if my life goal were ever going to be met, the time was now. So I set a deadline and started writing.
I know there are writers who rise early each day and write for an hour or two. My discipline is different. I can’t seem to establish any daily consistency regarding time or task. When I start writing, no matter if I begin at nine a.m. or nine p.m., I can write for hours. But then after the marathon, I need time off to let the brain dust settle. I need time and space to see where I have been and where I want to go.
The most exciting thing about finishing A Hollow Bone, beyond the fact that I finished it, is what I have discovered over the past year about myself as a writer:
- The ideas will emerge just by writing. Last night, I worked on one chapter for three hours. I knew in general what I wanted it to be. I’m not an outliner. I go in knowing my general direction and try to listen to whatever voices and forces feel right. Throughout the past year, I have been amazed with what I have been able to come up with, just by writing.
- The story will guide me. At some point the story told me that my two women needed a family. Before I knew it, mothers, fathers, and grandparents were born. These new characters play integral roles in the story. They are the story in ways my two main characters cannot be. One of these new characters is my favorite. He’s my quiet hero, but he is not my protagonist.
- Hiring an editor is well worth the money. I cannot thank Signe Jorgenson enough for her professional and insightful feedback. After her first look, I made a few powerful changes that allowed me to find the best ways to give my characters their full voices.
- Finally, I learned that I can be disciplined, I can be driven, I can take on a gigantic task and accomplish it.