When I was in my twenties, having had my third child, I suffered from headaches. I went to see my doctor, an older chap not far from retirement. He checked me out, then said, “Well Mrs. Graham, I think you have too many children.”
Um, what, I have too many children? My first thought was, “Well Dr. So And So, what am I supposed to do about that now?” I don’t recall what I said, but obviously I didn’t have any serious issues, and now a good twenty years later, all seems fine. But as I wrote today, fleshing out yet one more set of characters for The Hawk, I thought about that dubious diagnosis and how it relates to my WIP.
Yes, Mrs. Graham, I think this book has too many children….
Actually youngsters are on my mind, not the nietos, but a plethora of kids growing up in Karnack, Texas in the autumn of 1963 as well as an unnamed western town. I’ve reached JFK’s assassination, which has taken a lot from me to weave into the story, but along with that tragedy has blossomed Luke and Tilda Richardson and Hiram Bellevue. Let’s not forget Walt and Dora, the Richardson parents, which means I’m shoehorning another half dozen characters within a novel that seems to expand like some long lost galaxy finally turning up on properly equipped telescopes.
But you know what? I don’t care. There was nothing I could do two decades ago to answer that silly doctor’s retort, and again today I’m not bothered that this story spins further into something that thankfully doesn’t give me headaches, just some achy arm muscles. But as I said to my husband this evening, quilting will be taking a back seat this year. I’ve got a novel to finish!
(Do you know how GOOD that is to denote? The last two years writing has felt like an extra within my life, coming and going as if I could set it permanently aside, dude!)
In the last few weeks I’ve added another 80K to this manuscript, whoo-hoo! This book will be as long and involved (with as many kids and kitchen sinks) as necessary. Since starting this novel, I’ve come to the distinct realization that a bigger story than originally assumed is being told. And that too is just fine. (Just fine!) Having been at this writing gig now for over nine years, an independently published author for coming on half a decade, I have my feet under me. This isn’t like the quilting, which at times feels utterly new. With writing, I do know what I’m doing.
I don’t say that to brag; I say it secure in my vocation. This authorial stuff is a calling, don’t think it’s not. And like anyone called to this or that task, confidence springs from experience, also from letting go of expectations. So welcome Luke, Tilda, Hiram, Walt, and Dora. Eric, Lynne, Sam, Renee, Marek, Laurie, Stanford, and Seth are happy to find room for a few more folks. And while I’m still hoping to complete this behemoth by the end of the year, I’m also aware that deadlines in indie publishing are solely at my discretion. However lengthy this story needs to be, so be it. And however long that takes, okay. Those headaches from my youth weren’t due to an overabundance of children, and this novel won’t suffer from a few extra additions; let the words, folks, and chips fall where they may.