I said to myself, “I’m going to write a novella.”
It was going to be sword-and-sorcery set in my own (at least to me!) highly entertaining world, and there was going to be a quest for a magical piece of jewelry. It’d be fast and fun and violent, I said to myself, and I’d fill it with dirty jokes and sex and—since I’m a dirty birdy and I have a real fondness for well-done yaoi—pretty elf boys kissing.
Thirty thousand words, I said, and I’ll slam it out in a month and send it to my beta-readers. Well, it’s been a month. I have about thirty thousand words. What I don’t have is a complete manuscript, and I’ll tell you why.
I sat down to write it, and it turned out to have people in it. Messy, broken, miserable, healing people. It got away from me. And now it’s a big pile of story and I’m digging deeper and deeper. They haven’t even left to go after the Clear Descrier yet. But you know what? I think it’s going to be a great book.
This is a big step away from my comfort zone in a lot of ways. One is that this fantasy is a lot “higher” than I usually write, filled with royals and nobles, and bar a few characters, most of the people I write aren’t high-class. Another is that there are love scenes—some of the most difficult fiction I’ve ever worked on. Yet another is the single narrator: I haven’t, and don’t intend to, deviate from Eagle Eye’s point of view. The world is different; it’s set Before the fairies died. The players are different. It’s just different.
I think every writer, at some point, should let a story run away with him or her. There’s a lot to be said for plotting, planning minutiae, controlling your words—but this experience is stretching me in so many ways that I can’t begin to list or explain them. And even if you’re a dedicated outliner, sometimes you need a new outline—or to throw it away entirely.
Let it run. Run with it. Run away, quest for magic, have an adventure.
The space in which you have adventures is not, cannot be, your comfort zone. Adventure and comfort are mutually exclusive. Don’t get so entrenched that you can’t have those adventures. Walk out of your mind’s front door. Go.