Rome wasn’t built in a day: why you DO have a novel (or any other enormous project) in you!


I’ve been working on the Fire of Norea series for…sigh…how long, now? Four years? In a way, it’s sad to think it’s been so long.

On the other hand, I’m working on (at least) a trilogy, and I love intricately woven plots, so I’ve spent quite a lot of time on the “world building” phase, mapping out plots and backstories for the entire series to maintain consistency. As a reader, one of my favorite “rewards” is when I come across one of those “aha” moments in the narrative that explains something seemingly minor that was mentioned eons ago in another book. It shows the author has actually planned the outcome instead of making it up as needed.

A few weeks ago, one of my clients asked me how the novel was coming along. I love this guy. He’s erudite, well-read, well-spoken and the smartest dresser alive. By all accounts, it’s as though he stepped out of the 1940’s and hasn’t bothered to interact with the changing (and inferior) world around him. He’s humble, as well, often interrupting himself in our conversations to say something along the lines of “You don’t have to listen to this, I know I bore you.”

I tell him it isn’t true, and it is isn’t. I love our conversations, and I often feel I’m one of the very few people in his life who really listens to him. I hope that isn’t the case, but we certainly get along well.

During this particular conversation, I told him I had taken a hiatus on the novel while I finished my degree, but hoped to get back to work very soon. He told me he had once tried to write a novel, but, when he sat down and looked at the blank page, he realized he had nothing to say.

I can’t believe that, and I told him so. He has many things to say, interesting things he has shared with me on my occasions. So why not write them down in narrative form?

There are many reasons, but I suspect the biggest (even if not acknowledged) is the magnanimity of it. Would my 2011 self had started diligently developing this kernel of an idea if my future self had warned him he wouldn’t have a single book finished in 2015? I don’t know, but certainly the thought would have been daunting.

And, in that time, I earned my Master’s Degree in Religious Studies, with a near perfect GPA, a near herculean task of its own. And then, a year ago, our first child was born, paling all advanced studies by comparison. During that time, I have also been involved in developing a business model and raising capital for a new venture which I will manage, a challenge that would have intimidated me under other circumstances.

I’ve never written a novel. I’ve hardly ever finished a short story I’ve written. But, as I get older, I realize some clichés ring true; thus, their staying power.

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Actually, that is supposed to be a quote from Lao Tzu.

In any event, we have our lives, we have our experiences, we have our relationships, our struggles and our triumphs. They are universal in familiarity, yet intimate in their presence. We all have novels inside us. And that novel can also be a song, a poem, a family, a career or a quest. It is only for us to make it happen, one small step at a time, no matter how long the journey must take us.

After all, the journey is all there is.


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