That picture up there is what nearly five years of writing looks like. All that time spent dreaming up new ideas, finding spare moments to hammer out a thousand words, wondering if the book is good enough, wondering if you’re good enough…it all boils down to this pile of paper and ink just a few inches high.
There’s a weird sort of beauty in the amount of time it takes to write a novel. Most days, I’d love to be able to pump out a new book in the amount of time it takes you to read it, but when I really stop and think about it, I kind of like that these things eat up a year of my life at a time.
A lot of life happens in a year. I started my very first book, Alpha, the day after my wife and I got back from our honeymoon, a month or so after I graduated from college. Now when I look at that book, I remember learning how to be a married man. I remember wondering if I’d ever find a use for that degree I spent so much of my parents’ money on. I remember finding new and interesting ways to stretch eight dollars to the next payday.
I’m getting ready to publish my fourth novel now. This time, that effect is a little more exaggerated, because I’m not just publishing a novel this time around. I’m publishing the last novel in a trilogy. I’m wrapping up a story that I first started chipping away at in 2012.
I remember getting that first spark of an idea, lying on my father-in-law’s couch and watching Master and Commander. I remember making my last correction on my last pass of edits sitting on my brother-in-law’s couch and watching a Cowboys game. Between those bookends, there have been some great victories and crushing defeats, odd characters and meandering plotlines, and a whole heaping of completely improbable events – both in these books and in the life I’ve lived around them.
I have my next project more or less planned out. I know the twists and turns it’ll take, the characters that will drive it all, and the ways they’ll change and grow. What I don’t know, though, is what my own story, the one outside those pages, will look like.
I guess I’ll have to wait and see.