I’m having trouble sticking to the story today. I’ve reached a place in the novel where it’s starting to become something, and I’m not entirely sure I like what it’s becoming. It’s a place of doubt, of thinking about the outside world and how they might receive this crazy story, a dark tale about a female serial killer. Ugh. Death and destruction. I need a break.

In my years of writing novels, this is always the time I start to fantasize.

“What if,” I say to myself, “what if I scrap this whole thing and write a fantastical, heart-warming story about a girl in a special forest that can transform her into a powerful goddess who can right the wrongs in her world? Or, no, wait, I got it, how about a beautiful, loving story of a couple of kids who save the dolphins trapped in tuna nets? Or, better, how about a moving story about a mute boy who finally learns to talk, taught by the girl who loves him?”

My fantasy storylines are ones I think might be uplifting, might appeal to the general reader. When I start to think like this, I know I’m feeling the long fingers of the trap that all writers can get pulled into: Trying to second guess what will sell. It’s an awful place to be. A place where I can’t hear what’s in my own heart.

Am I doing the right thing? Writing the right thing? Shush, brain, just, shush.

There’s another reason I fantasize about writing stuff other than the novel I’m working on. Because, well, because frankly, writing a novel takes a long time, at least for me, and as in any long-term relationship, there are periods of boredom. I just don’t always feel like thinking about this damn story, ok? I want to hike the mountain, walk to town, go shopping, clean out the front porch. Do I allow myself to fool around, play hookey from the work? Sometimes. Sometimes that’s the best way to fill my well, to keep the ideas fresh and flowing.

Other days, I simply have to paste my butt to the seat and bury my head in the story, much as I’d rather be swimming with the dolphins.

New Year’s Resolution: Stop worrying so damn much, and write when the visions come. Write what’s in my heart. Go clean out the front porch and just shush.


  1. I love the way you think, Julie! Great post. And so true.

  2. I deeply empathize with your worries and doubts. I suffer with them pretty much all the time - especially now that I'm writing contemporary fantasy and I have to make the plot interesting all on my own, instead of pulling from already-fascinating history:) I'm trying to remind myself to stick with it - your post was a good reminder, too. Thank you!

    P.S. I also empathize with the trials of writing about a female serial goodness, we have such odd things in common!


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