I am not a planner.  Not in my life.  Not in novelology.

As the saying goes: “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.”

It’s odd to realize something about yourself so spontaneously.  It’s always been true, more or less, that I play it by ear.   I didn’t start writing with some grand ambition.  I started because I had no other big goals, and it seemed like a cool way to make a living.  I didn’t give it much more thought than that.  I never envisioned myself as a semi-famous novelologist.  I never thought I’d achieve the level of success I currently have.  And, really, I’m just an obscure writer who most people have never heard of, but I pay my bills with writing and I’ve met a few cool people because of it.

When it comes to writing a story, I don’t bother with outlines, character studies, or world building.  I sit down.  I start writing.  I see what happens.  There’s always some germ of an idea to begin with: a character, a setting, a very broad plot.  For the most part though, it’s just starting the journey and seeing where it’s going.  (And then using the special magic of editing to tie it all together.)

When asked what I plan on writing next or where I see myself in five years, I can’t say.  My efforts are less focused on the long term than the short.  I’m more involved in my life in a day to day basis than in pursuing some grand design.  It might not be the way everyone does it, but it’s worked for me so far.

My personal philosophy is that life is a complicated mess, and any larger control we think we have over it is an illusion.  This doesn’t mean we have no control.  It just means that if you think you know where you’ll be ten years from now, you’re either psychic, a genius, or fooling yourself.  Not that there’s anything wrong with making long term plans.  If it helps you focus on your goals, go for it.  Maybe you have complete control over your destiny.  If so, congratulations.

As for me, maybe I’m zen.  Maybe I’m a pessimist who sees life as a chaotic jumble that we can never tame or comprehend.  (Kind of like Chasing the Moon, but with less monsters.)  Maybe I’m an optimist who believes in ignoring that and enjoying and appreciating every day.  Or maybe it’s some other option I haven’t considered yet.  I haven’t given it much thought  Life might be a story, but it’s always seemed one beyond our ability to grasp.

Hopefully, they’ll fix it during the edits.

Keelah Se’lai

Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,


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One Comment

  1. Posted March 20, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Permalink


    I cringe every time I hear a pro say that I have to use outlines to be a “real” writer. I start with a character and usually have the climactic moment in my head.

    Getting from start to finish is like driving to New York. It’s that-a-way, and I’ll figure out the rest along the way. It may not be the most direct path, but it’s that detour through Kentucky that really makes the trip memorable.

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