Note: I first wrote this back on May 12, 2015. I think it might help some of you, so I posted it here for the first time today. To put the following in perspective, the entire Wes Crowley saga now spans 10 novels and several short stories.
Heinlein’s first rule is “You must write.” The second rule is “You must finish what you write.” As you can see, this has nothing specific to do with writing science fiction. It has to do with writing, period.
I think I hope I’m able to finish the story of Wes Crowley and the others. I say “I think” I hope I’m able to finish because that will not be a happy occasion. Maybe not finishing the whole thing would be better. If I finish it, I suspect I will mourn.
Y’know, this whole time I thought this was a very disjointed process. I mean, I wrote a novel, then a sequel, then another sequel and thought that was the end of that. Separate works, all that.
I soon realized the character wasn’t through with me, not by half. So I started a sequel. That would have been book four.
But then the younger version of the same character began tugging on my sleeve. He wanted to tell the story from the time he and his buddy Mac joined the Texas Rangers. Only then would I have told a complete story, he said.
So I stopped writing the sequel (in mid-scene) and started a prequel. Twenty-six writing days later I published The Rise of a Warrior. So that became book one.
Then I started the current WIP, which I’ll finish today and which will become book two. I already know there is at least one more prequel and possibly one more after that. Then will come the original trilogy, and I’m about a third of the way through that sequel I started a few months ago. When I finish that one, it will be either book 7 or 8 in the series.
But it isn’t really a series.
Finally, as I’m about to finish the fifth book I’ve written detailing these characters’ exploits, it dawns on me that I’m not really writing a series at all. I’m writing a single, long story. And I’m “unstuck in time,” as Dean Smith and Kris Rusch call it.
In other words, I don’t have to write the thing in linear fashion, the way it will eventually be read. I’m able to write a sequel, then a prequel, etc.
It will all be one big story, and it will read smoothly from page one of the first book through the final page of whatever the last book turns out to be, but it will have been written a bit here, a piece there. I find it very cool that my characters allowed me to do that.
Even cooler that they TRUSTED me to do that.
Now, I’m not expecting another sequel after the one I started awhile back, but I’m not discounting the possibility either. In The Marshal of Agua Perlado, I have no idea what’s going to happen (writing into the dark, remember?) except that Wes and a beauty named Coralín are going to be married.
But get this… even though they aren’t yet married, I already know their children’s names. Isn’t that strange? But not really, I guess. I mean, Wes knows the names of his own children because in his world it’s already happened. I just haven’t written it all down yet.
And seriously, who would he rather confide in than me? Well, other than Coralín.
No matter how long this story goes, I think I’ll be sad to type the final word.
And I won’t celebrate. I celebrate the beginning of a story, whether it’s flash fiction, a short story, or a novel. I just can’t bring myself to celebrate finishing something I enjoy doing.
By the way, if you like a good western, two of my books are currently in the Guns of the West Bundle. This is an excellent opportunity to get 9 amazing tales of the wild west for one low price.
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