Recently I’ve begun work on a brand new novel. It’s been years since I started something completely new, and the whole thing is quite exciting. (Hopefully the novel is too!) There are shiny new characters and an intriguing setting, and compelling conflicts and a thrilling mystery and an exciting climax. And even romance. I’m full of hopes and dreams. Sooner or later, I will come barreling into the hard cold wall of revision, but for now, my mind is roaming around, trying to come up with all sorts of fun things to happen. The first draft is always the most fun part of writing for me, and because I’ve spent the last few months teaching a class on writing first drafts, I feel more competent. Or at least I’ve thought about it more. One of the questions I love to ask my students is, What novel would you write if you could write anything in the world? Invariably they come up with answers that are different than the novel they’re writing. Then I ask, why don’t you write the novel you want to write? It’s a simple question, but it always provokes a lot of interesting responses: Because my family will never talk to me again. Because I’m worried I can’t do it right. Because people will think I’m strange. Because I’m scared. All those things are always true every time we (I) sit down to write, but nothing compares to feeling like you have a great story that only you can tell. So now, back to work!