The 1,000-page Year

I’m Exhausted and Crabby

Photo by SAJAD FI on Unsplash

Stay Home

Two years earlier, I’d moved to a small house in rural North Carolina. We got the only wireless internet available — not a fast one. YouTube videos pause every five seconds to buffer. Downloading a movie takes hours. Streaming the greatest new shows was out of the question. And I dislike almost all of “regular” TV: talent and reality shows and the occasional tries-too-hard sitcom.

Write

And I wrote. First I decided to revise a novel about a girl who traces her family tree and discovers unusual twists and secrets. The revision went badly, so I rewrote the entire thing from scratch. I let it rest, as I always do before sending something around to agents.

Stay Home

I’m write middle-grade fiction (roughly ages 8–12) so I attended SCBWI online webinars heavily. I stepped back and instead of pounding the keyboard daily, I thought. A lot.

Write

A new story, with a male protagonist, sprang forth. Usually I’m a planner. This time I was a pantser. I simply started writing, starting with an 11-year-old boy who loved to arrange the variety of smokes in the “cigarette bowl” as his parents prepared for a 1970s card party. I knew the goal, and even some of the other characters, immediately. But I knew the whole story from beginning to end, and felt “inside” the protagonist.

Stay Home

I stepped back and thought. The keyboard went silent again. More details of the story, new twists, and better logic came forth in my head when my fingers were quiet. More importantly, I better learned how my characters’ actions led to events and how their emotions led to reactions. I outlined the rest, switching from pantser to planner, and wrote it to the finish line.

Write

Then it was back to the prairie novel. In November 2020, the election over and refreshing, and hearing of a nearly-ready vaccine, I pushed to make it a 1000-page year. It seemed that I might go back to a full-time job and not have this chance again, so I thought: if I have three reasonably good manuscripts under my belt, I have a great start. And keep in mind, I have already published a novel. Unless you magically become a major seller, though, it takes constant diligence to stay in the game.

Stay Home

Only a few years ago, through intense therapy (three years of once-a-week sessions with a psychologist) did I somehow turn myself inside out and learned everything about myself, my motivations, and how I interact with the world. For my writing, it made me stop thinking of all the other craft-oriented and “how to sell” techniques and work from an origin of something deep in my heart, core to my being, and trekkable on an emotional level.

Rest

In later 2021 surely I will go out to eat a lot, see family and friends in places I formerly lived, vacation in Florida when it’s cold in North Carolina, go to in-person groups again, have large holiday gatherings, and have “regular life.”

Asheville NC. Former writer for men's fitness mags. Author, The Owl Motel. Writer of middle-grade fiction. Chuckmall.com and @chuckmall on SM.