Throughout my life I’ve written stories in my mind. My imagination turned ball point pens into space ships, and my toys into actors on a stage. I daydreamed my tales as I suffered through grade school, and endured the taunts of people who found my “gaze into nowhere” odd. In my mind life was always larger, and those who stood up for what was right more noble, than what I saw all around me. I never quite fit in anywhere as I grew up, stories were my refuge.
I never grew out of my penchant for daydreams. In fact, as I moved toward college my penchant to lose myself in my thoughts and imagination became a great boon. Suddenly I was supposed to spend hours on my own reading books and reflecting on what I studied. College was like going to a home I never knew I had.
The stories, however, never stopped living in my head. My daydreams would often drift back to some tale I’d been mentally weaving since childhood. The worlds in my imagination were like familiar friends, always ready to be called up any time I needed a creative outlet.
Since college I have often wondered if I have enough of a story in my head to actually write a novel. As marriage, family, and vocation grew throughout my twenties, however, my thoughts about actually writing a novel were put on very low simmer. I just didn’t have the time.
Then Scrivener arrived, and I thought I’d give the idea another go. I got about 15,000 words into a satire fantasy novel and was cruising along nicely. The characters were lively, the world was original, and I felt the story actually said something. But something derailed my efforts unexpectedly. I purchased an iPad 2 and it became my “go to” writing device. It was lighter, faster, and just more fun to use than my MacBook. My novel was put on hold, waiting a long-anticipated iOS version of Scrivener. And there it lay for years, waiting for me to return.
At the end of 2014, however, a friend of mine began to share with me the idea of “doing something creative” every day for an entire year. Being at a moment of creative low-ebb, I thought it was a fantastic idea. So I committed to writing something for this blog every day in 2015. Since January 1, 2015 I believe I’ve only missed two days!
The “blog every day” challenge provided me with a new opportunity for writing. I needed content, and within the first few months of 2015 I instituted the idea of “Fiction Tuesday.” At first I wrote short pieces set in the world of my satirical fantasy, but then I got the idea of writing a serial piece of fiction which explored one of my favorite Minecraft worlds. Eventually, this became Welcome to the Valleys. By this time I’d moved to my retina MacBook pro as my primary writing tool and, in the Summer of 2015, I began using Scrivener to organize my posts. I decided to split out my fiction pieces into it’s own project and, as I organized them, I realized this serial story would actually wind up being the length of a novel. And so “Fiction Tuesday” really became “Valleys Tuesday.”
And yesterday, it ended 1.
I remember writing the line “Here ends Welcome to the Valleys.” The only thought in my mind was, “Oh my gosh, I just finished a novel.” I never knew before if I had a novel in me, but now I know for certain I do. I’ve done it.
So what’s next? Well, I’m first going to go back through the story and do some massive edits. When I began this tale I didn’t have an outline, and so there’s a lot of internal discrepancies in the places and names people use. I also need to go back and shape some of the characters a bit differently in the earliest chapters so their personalities remain more consistent as the narrative progresses. Finally, I will probably edit out a few sections which never really seemed to fit the tale. These are mostly the “solo” adventures in Riverside and The Ravine. At the time I wasn’t certain why they didn’t work, but once the group got over the bridge in the final section I realized why it was so. Jeremy was always the window through which this story was told, when he wasn’t around the story lost steam. When we traveled over the bridge, however, the window shifted subtly to Walter — suddenly Jeremy was the one who had to create the context for his friend. I’ll have to fix these earlier problems.
When this is finished I’ll probably see if I can hire someone to do a final edit of the manuscript. Once that process is finished I’ll make the novel available as an ebook in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks. Maybe some people will buy it, maybe not. We’ll have to see.
Why not send the manuscript out to publishers? Well, mostly because I simply don’t have time to figure out that process and work though it. But also partly because I’m not in the mood to suffer rejection. I wrote this novel to prove to myself I could write a novel, and seeing it live in an eBook store is really the only validation I’m looking for.
Will Jeremy’s story continue? I certainly hope so! I’ve already begun mapping out the narrative for the second part of the tale in my head. It will probably shift back and forth between the party and the events going on back in The Valleys.
Before I tell that story, however, I’m going to blow the dust off my dormant satire. Soon I’ll be posting what I’ve already written as “Fiction Tuesday” posts. In a few weeks I’ll be ready to move that story forward, and Fiction Tuesday will become all about the Penny Gnomes 2.
And perhaps in a year of so I’ll be able to say I’ve written my second novel.