The Whiteboard

As I edit the rough draft of my latest novel, Origins, I’m also preparing for my next project. I will be doing something different with my new novel here. In addition to sharing excerpts from the novel, I will be taking readers through the whole process of making a novel, at least from my point of view. I’ve always enjoyed “The Making of…” videos that show you behind the scenes of how things are made, and I’m hoping that this experiment will generate some good discussion and feedback. I’m always curious to hear how other authors create their work, so why not put my approach out there for others to see.

While I’m still a couple of weeks away from getting started on actual writing for my next novel (editing the previous one takes time), I’m getting set up to begin. Normally, I scribble all of my notes and outlines in my OneNote notebook and then copy them into Scrivener as I begin the writing process, but this time I’ve decided to put the notes on a whiteboard so that I have some visuals to share as I blog about the process. I’ve already started making notes on my whiteboard, which hangs on the wall opposite of my writing chair. All I have to do is look up from my laptop and see the character list and chapter outline for my new novel (they’re not completely written down yet). The whiteboard will provide a nice focal point as I write in case I wander too far away from the story arc.

My kids, who are 11 and nine and infinitely curious about what goes on in my basement office (my son is shocked that I don’t spend all my time down here playing video games), have both sauntered into my office and stared at the words on the whiteboard. Naturally, they have questions, especially my daughter who is a budding writer in her own right. The first, obvious question arose when she realized that the protagonist in my new novel is named Grace just like her, except this Grace is a 16-year-old. She wanted to know why I named the character after her. I explained that I had this story idea long before she was born and that it has taken me years to get to the point of writing it. I showed her my notebook and the long list of story ideas waiting for me to breathe life into them. Many of these ideas have accumulated over the years. When they come to me, I write them down, but I don’t immediately write the novel. She understood this, and I could see the wheels of creativity turning in her own mind.

My son, who is pragmatic and to-the-point, asked me if I made money from my novels. I laughed and explained that someday I might, but I love writing more than I care about any financial gain that may come from it. He looked confused, so I explained it in terms of video games, and he understood. He loves gaming like I love writing. He’d spend the whole day playing video games if I’d let him, and likewise, I’d do the same with writing, but like he has to go to school to learn and find a practical career path (not video games), I have to go to work to pay the bills.

Both of my kids have asked if they could read one of my books, and I’ve explained that they probably wouldn’t like them since they are not geared toward such a young audience. Generally speaking, kids don’t like literary novels. There are no action sequences or boy wizards. Literary novels often explore the depths of a character to a point that would bore most young readers (hell, even many adult readers). I can’t imagine either of my kids enjoying a Wally Lamb novel as much as I do. Someday, they may enjoy such novels, but I’m guessing now is not the time.

Nevertheless, I like the fact that my whiteboard has started conversations with my kids and piqued their curiosity. I’m excited to share my love of writing and the creation process with my kids and my readers on this blog. It should be a fun journey. Stay tuned!




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