When I first met Devin Green, dinosaur tracker, he was a 14-year-old son of a single mom who thought his paleontologist father was pretty cool. His uncle had just been killed* when the ocean-going garbage scow where he worked was sunk by what appeared to be, well, a prehistoric creature of some kind.
The second book of the trilogy was to be set six years later during his college studies, and book 3 would come not long after he became Devin Green, Ph.D.
I remember what derailed his story: I was 10-12 chapters into telling the first novel from his parents’ point of view when I realized it was about Devin’s journey, not theirs. And see the asterisk when his uncle was killed*? I started thinking about whether the uncle survived after all, and when and how his re-emergence would change everything.
But I was so invested in the words I’d already written that I
couldn’t wouldn’t throw them away and start over. My sin was pride, which froze the story in time and left it unfinished.
I wouldn’t dare advise anyone about writing novels. Only four of my 10 books contain fiction, only two are novels, and the one I think turned out better, I wrote 30 years ago. I write about writing a lot, but to be a mentor/teacher you first must establish credibility — listen to this person because of his track record in the field — and as far as writing novels goes, my main usefulness is as a bad example. Time and again, I have run into the Pressfield Resistance and the Godin Dip and crumbled in defeat.
pleased content with my other six books (and three approaching a finish line), which are essentially collections from this blog I have been building for a decade and a half including daily since August 2020. And perhaps I should simply accept that I am a decent writer of short non-fiction after 47 (!) years as a community journalist.
But I so want to share Devin’s story with you before I go, and the others that I have been dabbling around the edges for so long. If I buckled down and wrote until I reached “The End” of them all, I might have a half-dozen completed novels or more by the end of the year.
So, in the matter of writing fiction and especially novels, do as I say and not as I have done: Push through the Resistance and plow past the Dip.
What if — what if — I aimed to finish all of these works in progress and kept a journal of the effort in the blog? Dean Wesley Smith, a far more productive and successful writer than I expect ever to be, has done just that in writing novels side-by-side with blog posts, and the results are a slew of books with companions like How to Write a Novel in Ten Days. I could end up with my own slew AND a book called How to Overcome Inertia in Thirty Years or some such.
I’m not ready to up and say, “Yes! I’ll do it!” but I have to admit this post would serve as a decent first chapter.