Two weeks until NaNoWriMo 2018. Two weeks. Fifteen days. The temporal proximity to the most important month of the year is scarier than Halloween floating between us.
What’s scarier: I don’t know what I’m going to do.
Here’s my hope: For the past few weeks I’ve been rereading Starfall, my 2012/2013 NaNoWriMo novel, a story I handwrote and transcribed each night. It’s the first book in the epic mythology I’ve been imagining over half my life. I had thought I could capture the story in a single novel–but I’m pretty sure it’s at least doubled or tripled in scope since I started writing. And I’m eager to get back into it. But I’m obviously torn.
I feel the second part of this story deserves the same focus I gave the first, but I don’t have the time to write it by hand and transcribe it as I did back in 2012. I’m not sure if I’ll have the same charm or focus if I simply type it out. And I’m not even sure I’ll be able to keep up with that this year, because already it’s been such an incredibly busy year.
Here’s my fear: I’ll get started, and I won’t be able to finish.
Writer’s block. The one wall you don’t need to build to run into it.
I’m worried I won’t know where to go. In my head, this is what I want to write: Cassidy’s becoming. Raczek’s undoing. Timur’s first romantic interest. And Illuriel! She was such a silent and tangential character in the first book, and I want her finally to arrive on the page with her own name–she’s remained nameless long enough!
I also know the Elements are going to arrive in some capacity, but I don’t know how or when (even though Nama, the water bearer, must eventually purge Razcek of the poison she’s gathered that will soon lead to her ruin), but all that is vague and foggy.
What’s a writer to do?
I finished the first story on the precipice of extravagance–our heroes, embroiled in a foretold uprising war sailing toward their future. But what is the next chapter? I have promised an all-out confrontation between the forces of light and shadow, between the living stars fallen on the earth and earth’s people, and I’m not confident I can deliver.
This arc of the mythology is called Avish, for the dozen or so deities that form this world’s pantheon. From Shashelani (the light), to Siron (the wild), across time (Naemia) and space (Cekellan), these gods have a story to tell. At first I thought this would be a mythos similar to the creation tales of different cultures in which the deities take center stage, but it’s more akin to the great epics like the Iliad and the Odyssey, where the gods play a hand in turning fate, but more human and relatable protagonists take the lead.
So I have Timur, and Bjorn, and Razcek, Cassidy, Kir, Jance, Ladovan, Illurial… it is a fellowship of rings without one to bind them, an adventure there and back again without the dwarves and Hobbits to carry it along. Supporting cast members arrive, like a young Lyra who in a later arc of this mythos, as queen of what are in many ways the elves of this world, takes a central role in fundamentally reshaping the world. (She sunders it, or shatters it, into three pieces, a realm of the living, a realm of spirits, and everything else.) But supporting cast members can’t carry the whole show.
So the characters are here, and as a writer I am bound to them, obligated to listen and transcribe their story. But I’m afraid I have not the time to do them justice.
Part of me wonders if I should wait to write this next chapter–which I intend to call Moonrise (don’t predict part three will be sun-related; the current working title for that one is Cloudburst)–but what will I write instead? I’ve toyed with trying to dive into another fantasy story, because I honestly haven’t written any long-form fantasy since I wrote Starfall, but I’m not sure what story I’d tell. Do I dive into the Hamastilia–the collection of assorted legends that round out the mythology beyond the four main arcs? I’ve already composed a number of shorter stories in this book (call it my version of the Silmarillion and Book of Lost Tales), but I don’t want to force myself to write a side story if my heart isn’t in it. Sure, Miroc is eventually going to start a revolution a la 18th century France, and I’m sure Yoash still has some story left in him after his Silent Sun stories (which you can find on my fiction blog here), and I have been toying with another made-for-blogging story called the Chronicles of Escalon, which is actually set in the aftermath of the destruction of Raczek’s home in Starfall, but it still feels without flesh.
I could attempt to finish the story I started last year, and then perhaps try to write some short stories after that, but I’m still not sold. I’m excited for NaNo next month, but I have no idea what I’m going to write–and as a writer, that is the scariest thing.