The Empty Nest
By Evan Braun
Originally published on The Fictorians blog
For most of my life, I have been striving to become a writer. One day, I thought, I will be a writer. Of course, I know this was wrong thinking. I have constantly been told, “Writers write.” Writers don’t simply begin writing one day when they finally hit the big leagues; they have to put pen to paper for years before anything comes of it.
Armed with this common knowledge, I did just that. Twelve years ago, I began developing a science fiction epic. I finished my first draft, entitled Colony, two years ago. Seven years ago, I began a second story, and then a third.
I thought I was getting busy. I thought I was being preemptive, practicing my craft and preparing for the day when my career would begin.
I was wrong.
As a creative type, I’m not so good at math, but let’s add up my progress so far. In the twelve years that I’ve been committed to being a writer, I have written three novels. On average, that’s one novel every four years. This means I’ve been pretty unproductive for someone who intends to somehow make a living at this.
Well, my three novels are done now. They’re fully birthed. I would like to pat myself on the back for having churned through so many words these last two years, but the reality is that I have to get much faster at this. Ideally, I need to be writing two books per year, and I can’t take five to ten years to conceive of them, which means it’s time to get going on something new. I need to get going yesterday, to be honest!
But there’s something stopping me.
I’ve got a bad case of “Empty Nest Syndrome.” You know what I’m talking about, right? After parents finish raising a family, their children go off into the world, leaving them alone for the first time in twenty years or more. What are these parents supposed to do with themselves? They cling to their children as long as possible, fearing the separation anxiety they know is just around the corner.
Well, the metaphor only goes so far. I’m not worried about separation anxiety. I am worried, however, that I won’t be able to have any more kids. Do I have another three books in me? How about four or five? Ten?
A lot of writers have great ideas coming out their ears, but I’m not sure I’m one of them. Most of my writing time has been so obsessed with nursing the babies I’ve already got that I haven’t spent much time grooming new prospects for the future.
Well, the future has officially arrived.
I have become a little spoiled. Writing a first draft is fairly easy when you have twelve years of background research in hand. However, my new babies are barely embryonic. If I’m going to meet my two-books-per-year goal, I don’t have time to spin my wheels in development.
The question is this: how does one write from a blank slate? How does one develop a workable outline from an idea that’s only partially formulated?
At this point, you might be waiting for me to offer up a sage piece of writing wisdom, some neat and tidy advice to get you on your way if you’re in a similar position.
But that’s not the kind of post this is today. Rather, today’s post is a call to action.
Starting today, I’m going to ignore the blindfold over my eyes that represents my creative uncertainty about the vast terrain of untold and unconceived story laid out before me. Starting today, I plunge forward into the unknown, step by step, word by word.
It’s hard to believe that, in six months’ time, this baby is going to be headed off to college.
About this Contributor:
Evan Braun is a full-time author and editor. He has authored two novels, the first of which, The Book of Creation, was shortlisted in two categories at the 2012 Word Awards. He has also released a sequel, The City of Darkness (2013), with a third entry in the series due later this year. As a professional editor, Braun has seven years of experience working with Word Alive Press authors. He is also a regular contributor at The Fictorians, a popular writing blog.