Tag Archives: revising

Self-Imposed Deadlines

I just graduated from Rowan University with my Master of Arts degree in Writing. I’ve been in school since Spring of 2012, after going back finally after a long leave of absence. Being in school for so long meant that I always had deadlines and structure imposed upon me by the school. This was especially handy when working on the sequels to Manifestation, two of which were written as part of my school projects (I got A’s on both).

I’ve been trying for awhile to work on revisions for Contamination, the second volume of Arcana Revived. Since this one wasn’t something I was working on for school, there have been times that I had to find the balance between working on revisions on my own time and working on school work. Since the school work had deadlines imposed upon me by my teachers, it usually got the higher priority. Now that school is over, I’m putting Contamination above everything else.

The problem is, now I’m the only one creating my deadlines.

I just missed a self-imposed deadline last week. I’m currently about 1/3 of the way through my third draft of Contamination. I have some notes and feedback from critique partners, and I’m going to be getting more feedback from my Rowan classmates, since we’re keeping in touch and we will be continuing to work together on our writing projects as time goes on. But none of them can force me to stick to a deadline. I’ve got to handle that on my own.

Working through depression makes meeting a deadline a lot harder. I’ve struggled with depression for a long time, and it’s been particularly bad over the last few weeks. Part of the problem is that I’ve left school and as a result I’ve left the structure of my class schedule. I’m also only employed part time at the moment while I look for a more permanent position somewhere in the publishing field. As a result, I’m spending a lot of time at home, alone, with nothing but my thoughts, my writing, a stack of books, and the Metroid Prime Trilogy.

All in all, it’s been a struggle to meet my personal goals. I’m pretty sure it’ll improve once I’m back in a regular work schedule. When I’m home alone everyday, there’s an extreme lack of structure to my daily routine. This makes it easy to lose track of time and end up spending twelve hours straight trying to restore the Light of Aether to the Luminoth homeworld.But when I have a regular work schedule, it’s a lot easier to work my writing and revising schedule around it, such as by setting aside a couple of hours after I get home from work each night. I need that routine, and once I get into the groove again, my writing and revising process will improve greatly (and hopefully so will my blogging schedule, since I really need to get back into a three day a week blogging routine).

In the meantime, I’m going to keep plugging away as best I can. And if you’re a fan of my first book, I promise I’ll have the second one on its way before long.

mani_promoManifestation is available in paperback format through:

CreateSpace and Amazon

and in ebook format through:

Kindle and Nook

Sweeping Out the Cobwebs

For the past few weeks, both my writing and my blogging have been somewhat sporadic. I’ve fallen into, at any given time, one of two traps: the staring at the screen trap or the getting distracted trap.

Staring at the screen, most writers will tell you, is a waste of time. You’re not getting anything accomplished. Oftentimes, it’s better to just start writing whatever random crap comes to mind (kind of like I’m doing right now), with the hopes that it will start flowing and something good will come out. Typing anything is better than nothing at all. And, if it turns out that whatever you wrote really does suck, you can always cut it out later and move on. But you can never get to that point if you don’t start.

Freewriting is a good tool to use for this. Some most okay, probably all of my blog posts are written this way. I rarely have anything more than a general idea of what to write about. Sometimes, like today, I start off writing about how I don’t have anything to write about. But it gets the ideas flowing, albeit not always as effectively as my Water Muse.

I pretty much start all of my novels this way too. I just finished up some early revisions on my Rowan University master’s thesis project, aka Arcana Revived Volume Six, and I ended up completely cutting the first two chapters (somewhere around 2600 words). This is because those chapters were mostly just me thinking out loud on the page, figuring out where I was going, but not really writing anything all that interesting. I decided that the best thing to do was start the story with what was originally chapter three, since that’s the chapter where Tock and Gabby almost kill each other and some major tension starts to build up.

Getting distracted is my other main issue. Twitter can be a problem in that regard, as can Netflix. Though I think more than anything, the problem comes down to discipline. When I have a concrete goal, like writing at least 2000 words a day during NaNoWriMo, I’m better able to sit down and force myself to do it. But once I got out of the routine, it became hard to stick to a new goal, such as revising one chapter per day on Contamination. Which I should go do. Like, right now.

Do you have problems getting started? What do you do to get past them?

mani_promoManifestation is available in paperback format through:

CreateSpace and Amazon

and in ebook format through:

Kindle and Nook

Schedules and Deadlines

I don’t do well at keeping myself motivated.

In my academic life, schedules and deadlines are an important part of keeping me on task. I’m handed down schedules from the professor in each class, and individual assignments have deadlines that are usually nonnegotiable. Most of my professors at Rowan tend to forgive if you are late with an assignment, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t strict about when things are due. I consider this a good thing, because as it turns out, I really need those deadlines to make sure I get things done.

Over winter break, I accomplished almost nothing useful. I had plans to finish the second draft of Contamination, but I had a hard time getting much work done because I didn’t have any kind of set routine. Sure, I can say to myself “This revision is going to be done by January 30th!” But that doesn’t mean I’ll do it. In a way, this is one of the downsides to going indie. I’m my own boss, I set my own deadlines, but I also have to be solely responsible for making sure those deadlines are met. There’s no one else who can hold me accountable (though sometimes my friends on Twitter will step up and give me a hard time until I buckle down and get to work).

Now that school is back up, I have some deadlines again. Not for Contamination, since that isn’t a school project. However, Arcana Revived Volume Six (currently untitled) IS a school project. I wrote it as my master’s thesis project. As such, I have deadlines imposed upon me to get a certain amount of revision done by certain dates, in order to keep up with the class schedule. Combined with the feedback and notes I got from the professor, I have a revision plan, a deadline, and a schedule worked out for how to get these revisions done before March 1st.

And while this doesn’t technically have anything to do with Contamination, I’m able to use this externally-imposed deadline as a way to reinforce my own self-imposed deadline. Which means that I’ll be revising both Contamination and Volume Six at the same time (one for school, one for publication). If things go according to plan, I’ll have the current draft of Contamination finished before March 1st, and ready to send out for critiques.

Feel free to nag me about it in order to keep me on task. Because like I said, I tend to need external motivation.

mani_promoManifestation is available in paperback format through:

CreateSpace and Amazon

and in ebook format through:

Kindle and Nook

#NaNoWriMo 2014, Word Counts, and Revisions


#NaNoWriMo starts in about 24 hours.

I’ll give you a moment to freak out about that, then we can continue.

. . .

Back? Okay.

This will be my third year doing NaNoWriMo (you can see my profile (and add me as a buddy!) on my NaNoWriMo author page). The first year, I was working on Manifestation, which (as evidenced by the link I just slipped in there) is now a published novel. The second year I was working on the sequels, Contamination and Collapse. This year, I’m working on the sixth volume of Arcana Revived. And I’d like to talk a bit about word counts, including how my NaNoWriMo word counts have improved over the years and how each novel’s word count can shift drastically during revisions with expansions and cuts.

mani_promoMy first year, I was what NaNoWriMo refers to as a “rebel.” See, the “official” rules for NaNoWriMo say that you start writing on November 1st, finish by November 30th, and confine all your writing into that time period. But I had already started Manifestation in September of 2012. I ended up writing the required 50,000 words (actually, 53,552) during NaNoWriMo that year, but I wrote most of the novel during September, October, and a little bit of December. The first draft of Manifestation was 123,139 words, so it was definitely more than I had to write all in November in order to “win” NaNoWriMo.

My second year, I was a rebel again. I started Contamination early in 2013, and by the time NaNoWriMo arrived, I had about 40,000 words written. I ended up finishing the novel in the first two weeks of NaNoWriMo, writing another 80,000 words. Then, since it was still NaNo time, I dove straight into Volume Three, Collapse. I wrote about half of Collapse during NaNo, then finished it in December. All together, I wrote 141,151 words for NaNoWriMo 2013, about 80k on Contamination and 60k on Collapse. A vast improvement over my previous year. (Though I ended up with a bit of NaNoWriMo Burnout at the end).

This year, I’m starting (almost) from scratch. I’ve got 7100 words written on Volume Six, and the only reason I did those was because I’m writing this novel as part of my Rowan University Master’s in Writing Thesis Project. To meet class-imposed deadlines, I had to write the first three chapters. But I’ve been avoiding writing anything else until *checks clock* about 23 hours and 37 minutes from the time I’m writing this.

2014 CalendarMy “goal” this month is 150,000 words. Part of that is because I want to surpass last year’s 141k. And part of it is that I’m expecting this book to be the longest one yet, so I’m aiming high. It comes out to 5000 words per day, and my Writing Calendar (an idea I stole from Victoria Schwab) is set up with daily totals listed so I can keep track. If things go according to plan, this will be the first year I write a WHOLE novel (give or take that first 7100 words) all in November. No starting a month beforehand, no finishing in December. Just doing it all in one mad rush.

But aside from the number of words I’ll write in NaNoWriMo, there’s another thing I need to consider: how my word counts fluctuate during revisions.

In his book On Writing, Stephen King said that when he revises, he aims to cut unnecessary words (particularly adverbs) and to tighten up descriptions and prose. He says his formula is “Second Draft = First Draft -10%.” It’s a good bit of writing advice . . . that just does not match up with how I work at all.

See, the first draft of Manifestation was 123,139 words, but the next draft ballooned up to a whopping 139,023 words. Why? Well, for one thing, I was adding new scenes to fill in plot holes, flesh out minor characters who hadn’t gotten enough development, and build up certain themes and foreshadowing more. For another, I find that I tend to not be as descriptive as I should in a first draft (something I’ve mentioned on the blog recently). The same thing is happening with Contamination as I revise it now; the first draft was 123,559 words, and it’s currently sitting at 133,343 (and I have at least two more whole chapters to add to fill in some stuff that’s missing).

Now, I DO end up cutting later on. I cut about 60,000 words from Manifestation, added about another 20,000 back in with new scenes, and the final, published novel ended up sitting at 100,180 words (and a bit less than that, really, since that number includes the copyright page and the About the Author section). So draft three of Contamination will probably slim down, after I fatten it up during draft two. And Volume Six, despite my 150,000 word goal for NaNoWriMo, will probably end up smaller than that in the long run.

So, hopefully I can write 5000 words per day for all of NaNoWriMo, even if some of those words don’t make the final cut. And if, like last year, I finish the novel before November 30th . . . well, maybe I’ll start writing the seventh book (which will actually be Volume One of a new series, tentatively titled Arcana Revived: The Dark Ages).

I hope you’ll be joining me in writing like a crazy person, or at least in cheering me on and making sure I don’t completely lose my mind. Cause the madness starts in . . . *checks time* crap, 29 hours and 12 minutes.

Time to panic!

mani_promoManifestation is available on:

Createspace in paperback

and Amazon in ebook and paperback.


Revising Descriptions

Image Source: http://my3000lovingarms.blogspot.com/2010_08_01_archive.html
Image Source: http://my3000lovingarms.blogspot.com/2010_08_01_archive.html

I’ve been working on revisions for Contamination, the sequel to my first novel, Manifestation. One of the important things I try to focus on during revisions is the level of detail I put into certain descriptions, including those of the characters, the setting, and people’s emotions.

The first draft, in a way, is just the skeleton of the novel to come. I write the bare-bones draft down in order to lay out the story and cover all of the key points. I certainly try to be as descriptive as possible along the way, but sometimes I look back at a scene and feel like it needs to be fleshed out a bit more.

When this happens, I find that it helps to pick out certain key visual elements that will serve as descriptive markers for the character or piece of the setting I’m describing. I don’t necessarily need to go into excruciating detail about everything from head to toe. Instead, I pick out the most important and visually distinctive details I can think of to help get the image across.

To give an example, here’s a few descriptions from the most recent scene I was editing today. The first is a grocery store in a small town:

There was only one store in the whole town. It was small and probably family-owned.

Not much of a description. Fairly bleh. And it doesn’t really tell the reader anything about the store, other than that it’s “small.”

I revised it to this:

There was only one store in the whole town. It was a small grocer’s, one that wasn’t part of any chain Gabby was familiar with. The sign above the front entrance, which read “Zeilman’s,” was made of wood and hand-painted. She guessed it was probably family-owned.

That’s not an excessive amount of detail, but I think it does a good job adding some character to the little store. The reader now knows that this isn’t part of a big supermarket chain, and it should seem more quaint and unfamiliar. The hand-painted wooden sign gives it a real “Mom & Pop Shop” type of feeling. The reader’s imagination will fill in the rest of the details, but those details should be “small town” details. For example, you probably wouldn’t picture an automatic sliding glass door or any bright neon signs in this store.

The second description starts off even more vague:

Gabby looked up and peered over the tops of the shelves to spot a police officer who had just walked in.

This isn’t really much detail at all. “A police officer” could mean just about anything. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time describing every visual detail of this officer, but I did add one simple piece to his description:

Gabby looked up and peered over the tops of the shelves to spot a police officer who had just walked in. He was wearing the uniform of a highway patrolman.

Not much of a change, but it tells us something more about this man. He’s not a local street cop. He’s not a detective in a suit. He’s highway patrol. The reader’s own imagination will fill in the rest of the details: perhaps they see him in a tan uniform instead of a blue one, or sporting a mustache.

Let’s look at one last revision, also a minor one:

Carl looked dizzy.

This is a classic example of violating “Show, Don’t Tell.” I shouldn’t have to tell you that Carl (the highway patrolman) is dizzy. I should be able to describe him in a way that helps you figure it out for yourself:

Carl swayed on his feet and held a hand to his head.

That’s not a big change, but it’s an important one. It’s still a brief, simple sentence. But it’s one that shows Carl’s actions and body language. This gives a clear feeling of his dizziness, without me actually telling the reader he is dizzy. I think that’s an important change.

I’m going to be doing these kinds of changes all throughout the current revision, which is Draft Two of the novel. I’ll also be looking for ways to strengthen the plot and develop the themes and motifs. But those are topics for another blog post.

mani_promoManifestation is available on:

Createspace in paperback

and Amazon in ebook and paperback.

Combing the Manuscript

I’ve recently completed what should be the final draft of Manifestation. There’s nothing left that needs to be changed on a structural level. The story is what it is and what I think it will always be. That means that at this point, all that I think is left is fine-tuned proofreading. This is basically going over everything again and again, combing through the words until there isn’t anything left to find.

When I was a kid I did NOT get this. That's good old-fashioned racism.
When I was a kid I did NOT get this. That’s good old-fashioned racism.

The interesting thing about this process is how often I find myself going back to earlier chapters and carefully scanning just one more time. I’m about 2/5 of the way through the manuscript now, and I’ll catch something minor, like, say, the right way to format punctuation when you use italics, or a lay/lie mistake. I’ll then remember (or think I remember) three different times in previous chapters where I used the same thing. So I’ll have to go back and check again, and again, and again.

This leads to a sort of “two steps forward, one step back” style of proofreading. But with any luck, I’ll be finished within the next few days. Which means you should stay tuned to hear about cover art in the near future. Probably not in time for Eve’s birthday, like I had planned, but I’ll do the best I can.

Insert gorgeous cover art here.
Insert gorgeous cover art here.

In the meantime, I’ve started posting a few new short stories and poems on the blog lately. It had been too long since there had been any stories here instead of just blog posts. So, in case you missed them, here’s a few fun little pieces I’ve put up recently:

Chasing the Scene – A creative nonfiction piece about my writing process.
Shadow – A poem I wrote awhile back, now with a YouTube clip of me reading it aloud.
Peace – Another poem, also with video.
Where There Be Dragons – A very punny story about weredragons.

Also, if you enjoy those free stories, you should also check out Radiance, the short story I have published on Kindle. It’s about a girl who discovers an amazing supernatural power, and it’ll give you a glimpse into the world where Manifestation will take place. Think of it as a preview of the novel to tide you over until I finish combing through it and making everything as perfect as I can.

Editing and Depression

Editing is a lot like depression.

Explaining depression to people who haven’t experienced it isn’t easy. Mostly because half the time I don’t even understand it myself. The last therapist I spoke to told me my depression was episodic, that it would wax and wane like any other mood. Except this is a lot deeper. I could say it’s like imagining a bad day that goes on for so long that it’s no longer definable as “bad.” It’s just the way it is.

There’s a website with a good explanation that I found tells the story of depression better than I can express. Though it’s related to what I said awhile back about the Midnight Disease. There’s times when I’m so obsessed about and focused on a piece of writing that I barely sleep, that I ignore other responsibilities, and I put everything else on hold until I finish what I’m working on. Then, when it’s finished and the focal point of my life is over, I’m left lost and adrift. I sink back into the depression again and I have no energy or motivation to do . . . anything.

Tuesday I finished the first draft of the fifth book of Arcana Revived. I was in such a rush at the end that I wrote about 10,000 words each two days in a row, cramming the last 20k of the novel in a mad rush at the end. It’s been four days since then, and this blog post is one of the first things I’ve written during all that time. Four days straight without writing is rare for me, and I know it’s because I’ve burned through whatever energy I had.

My next goal is to continue the edits on Manifestation. I’ve been working on them for the last couple of months while continuing my writing at the same time, but now I’ve fallen behind. Trying to get the motivation to start editing is hard when I’m suffering through a bout of depression. Part of it is because dealing with editing can be a lot like the listlessness that comes with depression.

(I bet you were wondering when I was going to start linking the two things together.)

If writing a first draft is like the mad rush and excitement of a new beginning, editing can be a tedious, day-by-day continuation of the same thing for a long period of time. It’s the “hard work” part of writing, where you need to go through everything with a fine-toothed comb. There comes a point where you’ve re-read the same passage so many times that it starts to feel a little bland. It’s like the imagination and excitement are gone.

If you read the page on depression I linked to, you might see the connection here to what the article says about losing the joy in playing with your toys. There’s times where it feels like you’re just going through the motions.

I’m not sure what the solution or cure is, or if there even is one. My current plan is to just keep pushing onward, day after day. But it reminds me of something I wrote for a grad class last year. How sometimes “even hopelessness falls by the wayside when boredom takes over, and you realize that it’s time to get back up and brush yourself off. Not because you want to. Not because you’ve recovered. But because what else is there to do? Nothing, except to keep walking. Sometimes there’s no other choice but to push through and come out stronger on the other side.”

So I’m going to keep on walking, or editing, as the case may be. Because the alternative is to give up and let depression win, and if I did that, Manifestation would never be finished. And that’s not an option. So I’ll keep editing.

In the meantime, here’s the full piece that quote came from. It’s a meta-analytic story called “Gabby & I”:

Gabby & I

Gabby is the poet. I am the author.

Her life is the one I write about. She lives it; I put it on the page. Every tragedy, every tear, every first kiss in a fresh draft seems so new to her. Yet I have seen them each again and again with every revision. Part of me is in her, but it is her that is in the story.

Yet there are times in the story where she is the one who picks up the pen. She is a poet, a creator of her own words. She writes, and the words on the page change from she to I. Her voice comes out, and mine is suppressed. The narrator flees as the words become her diary, her escape from the tragedy of her life, and she pours her heart onto the page. I no longer recognize myself in those words. It’s as if I’m no longer there. She has been released into the page, set free to express her deepest secrets, desires, doubts, and fears:

I thought I might find peace today
But it seems I’ve lost my chance
I wonder if I ever will
Find peace, or hope that lasts?

No, I won’t find peace today
Not ever, not a chance
And even if that peace was offered
I think I’d let it pass

Her poems carry emotions that are not mine. Yet those emotions are so real. People tell me her poems make them cry, and they ask what inspired them. All I can answer is, “Her life.” She uses her writing to express the pain that my writing has brought into the story of her life. Her experiences give her inspiration I cannot claim as my own. When I read her poems, her words bring tears to my eyes. I feel the loss that I have written into her life. I see her loneliness and know that my pen is to blame. I see her cries for help, and know I cannot give her the release that she wishes for. I feel guilt reading her poems, knowing the pain that inspired these words:

Oh, dearest Lord, I beg you please
To you I pray, here on my knees
Forgive my sins, and my mistake
Forgive the life I had to take

Forgive my heart, forgive my soul
And know it never was my goal
To take a life with my own hand
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be damned

I feel shame, knowing that people will read her poems as mine. I know they will look on me with sympathy. They will think I am the one who lived through such loss. They have even thought that it was I, not her, who considered ending it all. That her cries for help were my own.

Maybe they were.

Looking back on those poems, I see a darkness. One that might bring concern, and make others question the writer’s safety. Just as they did when she wrote “I may just do it anyway.” I see poems that speak of blood soaking the ground. The devil’s grin. The emptiness of a soul torn away as hands grasped in the air, trying not to let it go. Someone lost, dropping to their knees, perhaps in surrender, perhaps in prayer. Masks of shadow worn for an entire whole lifetime, torn away until you must face what was hidden underneath. Unmasked, shoulders slumped in defeat, letting the chance for peace slip away. I see a writer left worn raw, exposed to the cruel elements after that mask was torn away. I see a writer lost, with nothing but her words to guide her. I wonder if these will guide me:

So many things are gone today
So much taken from me
So what is left, except to pray?
Whatever can it be?

My words, forever shall they stay
With them I’m always free
The one thing they can’t take away
Because they’re part of me

There can be no darkness without light, and there can be no fall without a rise. Sometimes it just depends which comes first. These poems show the fall. More than anything the fall. Down deep into the dark ravine in a shrouded forest, where Gabby ran and hid. Just as I once had, a child fleeing into the woods to hide from those who didn’t understand me. I came back home each night, hiding no longer than it took for the sun to fall and my stomach to grumble. She had no such luxury; her home was lost and her family slain by her own mistakes. Her path continued onward into the darkness. She fell to her knees in the mud at the bottom of that ravine. It was a place I knew well. A place where I fell to the ground and gave up. A place where she was left with nothing but tears, cold, and the empty stars above. A place with no strength to continue on. Some might say that climbing back out of that place takes courage, or determination. But sometimes all it takes is the fact that you have nothing else to do. Kneeling there, in a wet ditch, without hope, we realized that staying there was pointless and boring. Even hopelessness falls by the wayside when boredom takes over, and you realize that it’s time to get back up and brush yourself off. Not because you want to. Not because you’ve recovered. But because what else is there to do? Nothing, except to keep walking. Sometimes there’s no other choice but to push through and come out stronger on the other side.

I went home. She kept moving onward:

And then I slowly closed my eyes
And cried myself to sleep
My shadow held me like a prize
That she would always keep

But when I woke, the night had come
My shadow was no more
My body shivered, I was numb
Rain had begun to pour

The rain began to fall. She let it wash her clean. This was her turning point, when the words in her poems became stronger. “Bravery is just a word,” she writes through my pen. Just a lie you wear to tell yourself that you can do this, that you can continue on. A cloak you wear to dress up in a warrior’s clothes and pretend you’re something more than a lost writer, searching for purpose. The thing is, though, that cloak starts to feel pretty comfortable after awhile. That armor starts to feel right. It starts to feel real. And so her poem says, “Hold nothing back.” She strides forward. She finds that the bravery she wore, first as a lie, really settles in around her shoulders once she stops holding back. It grows comfortable there and decides to stay for awhile. Lie to yourself long enough, and you start to forget what the truth is. Sometimes I start to forget which one of us found the truth: me or her? Author or poet? Which one of us took off the mask? Which one of us put on the cloak? She wrote that poem, she declared “I’ll keep moving forward,” wielding her bravery like a sword. My pen just set her on her path. She’s the lie I make of myself, giving her bravery and hope and a path so that I can pretend. After awhile, it wasn’t pretending for her anymore. Maybe it won’t be for me either:

Now I can move forward
No burdens on my back
With this axe and this sword
I’ll slay fear in its tracks

This brave soul runs towards
The future, and I’ll act
My burdens are ignored
No, they won’t hold me back

She remains the writer until I write, “She puts down the pen.” Then I am the writer once more, writing about her life. Maybe she’s the cloak I wear, her poems the lie I tell until I start to believe them. The scared little girl who started fighting back, and taught me to hold nothing back.

I think I can live with that.

Book 4, “Mutation,” Complete!

So as you can see by the shiny red word count meter over there —-> I’ve completed the first draft of Arcana Revived Book Four, Mutation. It topped just over 100,000 words, making it the shortest of the novels so far, though there’s a lot of damn good action-packed adventure in those words. And hopefully an ending that just might make you cry.

In celebration I decided to make another Wordle. I did a few before for the other books. They’re fun, and give a good idea of what words/themes/characters are most used in your story.

Wordle: Mutation Draft 1

I’m not sure what’s next for me right this minute. I’ve got plenty of work left to do getting Manifestation ready, but some of that is currently out of my hands since I have to rely on others for editing, formatting, and cover art. I’ve got Book Two, Contamination to revise. I’ve also got a bunch of short stories to work on. Then there’ll be a Book Five starting at some point. I have absolutely no idea what it’ll be about. Well, that’s a lie. I have a list of “goals” already written up for things I still want to accomplish. But those goals are just the path; the central conflict probably won’t appear until I start writing, as it has in the past.

We’ll see how things go. For now, I’m going to sit back for a bit and revel in my accomplishment.