Today I finished "Heal Thyself." It came in at a little shy of 107,000 words and after living with Lillian Tor and Jahnisssim Hal Zev for just over a year, it feels strange to have their story end.
I have blogged before about how difficult writing this novel has been. Difficult, yes. A challenge, certainly. But in the end, extraordinarily gratifying.
This was my first primarily character-driven novel. While all my stories revolve around character to some extent, they also moved from plot point to plot point along an outline that was like pearls on a necklace. "Heal Thyself" was not like that. I had the basic event that set the plot in motion: A healer from one culture saves the life of an injured man from another and all hell breaks loose. But beyond that, the story *is* Lilliane and Zev. The plot moves through them and because of them. The story is even told exclusively through their points of view.
I had to trust their voices for the past year, even as I felt I was walking the high wire without a net. For me, outline and plot are a safety net. Writing without them took me in places I would not have gone otherwise and I took risks with this story that I am not usually comfortable doing.
The end result is a story that I am very proud of and characters I have grown to love and respect.
Now I get to place it in the hands of my first and best reader--my husband. It's a strange feeling. For a year, this story was mine alone. Once I give it to him, it will be shaped by his perceptions and his expectations. I suppose all art is something that takes place in the intersection between the artist and the audience, in this case, the writer and the reader.
I look forward to seeing how that collaboration unfolds.