I made my goal this week despite still being sick for most of the week. My flu last week has settled into a bad case of bronchitis that's just completely sapping my energy. I get little bursts of feeling pretty good, but then try to do some minor task like unloading the dishwasher, wind up coughing for ten minutes, then, boom, I need a nap.
In contrast to my sickly physical state, my current draft of Dragonsgate is developing quite healthily. In every book, characters show up who I didn't originally include in my plans. This time, it was a "sister of the serpent" named Colobi. She's a minor character in the original Bitterwood trilogy, one of Blasphet's main sidekicks in the cult of human women who worship him as the Murder God and serve as his assassins. Colobi is the one who saves Blasphet in the tunnel after Bitterwood leaves him for dead, and in Dragonseed she defends Blasphet against Anza and winds up dead, only to be restored to life by Blasphet.
When I started writing Dragonsgate, the character wasn't on my radar. But, following Dragonsgate: Preludes and Omens, Anza was pretty badly injured and I needed to get her back in action again quickly. I'd introduced the healing power of the dragonseed previously, but who would still have one around, and who would be willing to use it? Colobi sprang to mind, and after I brought her back into the novel to heal Anza, she's been hanging around and generally acting crazy, talking about how Blasphet's not really dead and that's she's still intent on serving him. But even I wasn't certain if she was just there to be a bit player, or if she actually had a role in the plot. This week, finally, she stepped up and explained exactly what her master plan was and it's perfect. Her agenda is the thread that ties together the three diverging plots of the book and will pull them back together.
I can't tell you how much I envy people who can outline their novels in advance. Winging it and hoping it will out work out is stressful... even though, again and again, it does all work out. I'm reminded of the theory of the bicameral mind. The short and probably not precisely accurate summary of this theory is that human consciousness grew out of a more primal state where the left brain and right brain weren't really aware that they were part of the same mind. So primitive man would hear voices and obey these voices thinking they were gods or spirits, when in fact it was his own mind speaking to him. For me, writing fiction is something like this. I feel like there's a muse in my head who knows the whole story of what I will write, but can't be bothered to explain it to me in advance. She teases me along from plot twist to plot twist, and I'm always thinking it would be nice if she'd given me some advance warning. But, she knows that, if she did warn me in advance, I'd spill the beans. In this theory, I do have the whole novel planned out in advance, I'm just hiding it from myself.
The counter theory is that my brain contains ten thousand monkeys pressing keys randomly, and instead of recreating Shakespeare, I get James Maxey novels.
Next weekend: Robotic Rodeo in Durham! I'll have a bit more space than normal, so my plan is, in addition to books, to also have a small selection of dragon art for sale. I did a test run last year with some dragon greeting cards I gave away free to people who signed up for my newsletter. I ran out of stock pretty quickly, but, of course, it's easy to give stuff away, a bit harder to sell it. Still, I figure it's worth a shot for those occasions when I have ten feet of table space to fill up.