I’m fighting. I’m fighting against myself. I’m fighting against my dreams.
I say I want to write, but when the time comes to sit and put words to the page, I resist the writing process. I find something else to do, some other way to entertain my brain and engage my imagination.
And I am frustrated with myself as a result.
This past week, I intended to write at least 500 words a day six days a week. I hit my daily goal twice, made it halfway to my goal once, and didn’t even get on the board the other three days. Grrrrrrrrr.
Why is carving out time to write so difficult? Because I haven’t decided that this is my life’s purpose. I want it to be, but logically, I still believe that my dream to make a living telling and selling stories is just that. A dream.
Thriving as an employee is much easier. It’s also much safer. It makes sense. I get trained. I put my training into action. I succeed. That formula I have followed over and over again throughout my adult life.
I know how to be a great employee and am confident I can excel at any job I am hired to do. My track record proves that pattern.
But when it comes to doing the work that I WANT to do, I struggle. I struggle to believe my writing is important. I struggle to believe my stories matter. I struggle to believe that I am capable of being the focused, persistent, passionate writer I long to become.
Last night, someone asked if my current job was just a job or something I could see myself doing for a long time. That question took me by surprise, and my gut instinct was telling.
My gut wanted me to answer, “It’s just a job! I’m not really an employee. I’m simply playing the part until I can make it as a writer.”
I censored myself before I could answer with raw honesty. Would anyone in the room believe such nonsense considering I’ve been chasing this dream for twenty years and only have a handful of books that bring in a small stream of royalties to show for my efforts? Would I believe such nonsense?
My edited response included a run down of other jobs within the company I currently work for that I could do down the line once I tired of my position as a claims adjuster. What my response did not include was my desire to be able to walk away from the auto insurance business entirely by the time I am 45 to be a full-time author entrepreneur. (That deadline is less than three years away.)
I didn’t want to openly admit that goal to anyone because I have a horrible history of botching deadlines. If I didn’t admit it, it wouldn’t be real. If it wasn’t real, it wouldn’t matter if I reached my goal or not.
Only it does matter. It matters to me. It matters to God. He is the One who has entrusted me with the ability to write and instilled within me the desire to turn my stories into books and my books into a business.
So the unabashedly honest answer is NO. NO, I don’t want to spend the rest of my working years as a claims adjuster. It’s interesting work for now and serves its purpose of keeping me financially stable while I write more books and build my business, but it’s not my end goal.
Spending my days telling adventurous stories and sharing them with you is my end goal.
That is what I will begin fighting FOR as of this moment.
And then what happened?
Such is the question that propels a story forward. But I haven’t been able to answer that question yet, not in relation to The Dragon Destroyer. I haven’t even been able to answer that question in relation to Krystyn’s character story. Which frustrates me. I want to get into storytelling mode and figure out what happened in Krystyn’s life to shape her into the person she is when she makes her first appearance in The Dragon Hunter.
Instead, I have found myself asking a different question over the past few weeks: what happened before that? And what happened before that? And what happened before that?
The backwards question brought me to the beginning of the Destroyer Bloodline, and I had fun figuring out the origin of the Destroyers. When I then tried to jump ahead to Krystyn’s lifetime at the beginning of this week, I struggled to pick up her story. I couldn’t figure her out without understanding her immediate family and what kind of environment she grew up in.
So this past week, I spent time drawing a map of Tirza, the region where Krystyn grew up. I also got to know her family a bit. I learned her father was maimed by a dragon, leaving him with ugly facial scars and only one arm. Her mother was a sickly woman, and as the only girl, Krystyn was the one stuck taking care of her mother.
Krystyn is the middle of the seven. She has three older brothers and three younger brothers, one of which is her twin and younger by only two minutes.
Now that I have determined what kind of family Krystyn was born into, I can finally begin the process of discovering Krystyn’s story. So this week I will be diving into Krystyn’s life and asking one simple question over and over again: and then what happened?
I didn’t realize the Destroyer Bloodline had such an interesting history until this week. Granted, I don’t agree with a lot of the choices they made along the way, but at least I understand them better now.
Because of that, I understand the world into which Krystyn was born. And that will help me this coming week as I explore her childhood.
By exploring what she went through as a child, I’ll be able to figure out why she behaves the way she does in the present day storyline of the Bloodline Saga.
Once I know that, then I can begin developing the details of The Dragon Destroyer story.
I don’t know if other writers spend this much time in their character’s backstories, but I’ve discovered that the more I know about my characters, the better books I am able to write. So as painstaking as it is and as anxious as I am to tell the final story of the saga, I will continue on this character discovery journey.
I struggled to write this week. It wasn’t just that my schedule got out of whack Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday due to three doctor appointments three days in a row. (Fortunately they were all regular checkups and I have been declared healthy by my dermatologist, my primary care physician, and my gynecologist.) It was also that I didn’t know what to write, and I wasn’t excited about the story I was trying to figure out.
The lack of passion is what bothers me. To know I want to write but not feel a burning desire to write is frustrating. I miss that undercurrent of emotion that was once always churning and driving me forward. I know it’s still in here. Somewhere. Buried beneath the practicalities of life that I have used as an excuse to stop pursing my big dream.
My big dream is to make a living telling and selling stories.
My current reality is that I am good at telling stories but not so good at selling them. As a result, I make a living as a claims adjuster, so I have a hard time convincing myself that chasing my storytelling dream is important. Since I don’t deem it important, I am devoid of any emotional drive to keep at it.
Nevertheless, I wrote something every day this week related to the origin of the Destroyer Bloodline. Most of it wasn’t any good, but by Friday, I felt a twinge of joy in the story I was telling.
Whether I feel like it or not, I will keep at it this coming week. And the next. And the one after that. By developing the habit of writing every day regardless of how I feel and trusting God all along the way, I believe I’ll resurrect that burning desire to write for the sheer joy of writing. Then I won’t write because I have to. I’ll write because I want to.
Furthermore, I’ll write with the understanding that dreams are important and ought to be pursued with the expectation that they will come true in the best possible way.
I grudgingly began work on The Dragon Destroyer this week.
It’s not that I don’t want to write the story. I do. The story I foresee is filled with amazing action sequences and sweeping adventure as the characters I’ve come to know and love chase the elusive and formidable Midnight Stalker. The problem lies with Krystyn, the Dragon Destroyer herself.
I. Don’t. Like. Her.
You shouldn’t either! She’s loyal to the evil king Omri and wants all dragons to die. She also tried to kill Micah, beat up Taliya, and plans to sabotage Javan’s quest to win the throne. How are any of those things redeeming qualities?
They aren’t, so I don’t want to write her story. Writing her story means I have to get inside her head, understand how she thinks, and feel the darkness lurking in her soul. I prefer to identify with the hero, not the villain.
But this story isn’t about me or what I want. It’s about the characters and what they want. And the more I understand the characters, the better story I’ll be able to tell.
So before I can begin the actual storytelling of The Dragon Destroyer, I have to first do a deep dive into Krystyn’s character in order to grasp how she thinks and why she does what she does
As I tried to do that, though, I realized I first need to understand the philosophy of the Destroyer Bloodline. What has Krystyn been taught about dragons during her formative years, and why does this Bloodline despise the Dragon Stalkers? (In writing the previous books, I made sure I had a clear understanding of each of the Bloodlines…except for the Destroyers. I didn’t agree with their philosophy, so I didn’t give them much attention!)
To answer those questions, I realized I have to go back to the beginning of the Bloodlines and meet the very first Destroyer.
I did that. I discovered her name was Shebar, and her hatred for dragons began when a Dawn Stalker killed her son Kame.
And that’s as far as I got this week. My plan for next week is thus to flesh out the origin story of the Destroyer Bloodline and trace how their philosophy grew and developed over the centuries leading up to the time Krystyn was born.
While you wait for next week’s update, go do something fun and adventurous!