I keep a food-and-exercise diary. The Google calendar for my household is carefully color-coded. I had to design my own planner after searching the globe for the kind of granular detail I need to feel good about my day.
This isn’t so much because I loathe spontaneity as it is that I want to be ready when life surprises me—whether it’s with an unforeseeable obstacle or an unanticipated delight. I just find that I’m better able to cope with or luxuriate in the unexpected if I know that my world is organized enough to take care of itself for a little while.
Anyway, I mention this because, since I started writing my first novel, I have tried to bring order to the process of telling a tale. I create notecards and outlines and spreadsheets. I want a plan for my fiction that’s as carefully calibrated as an itinerary that I create before I travel.
But, you know what? Just like life happens, story happens. I have reached the stage with my third novel where it’s all kind of a mess—or, at least, that’s how it feels to me. But, because this is my third novel, I know enough to recognize this as a good sign. It means that the characters I thought I was creating have revealed their true selves. It means that the world I thought I could shape is now a real place running by its own rules. It means that there are notecards I’m going to have to toss, and that’s all right.
I am so close to finishing After Him. I can’t wait to share it with you.