It Only Took Three Novels

I finished writing a novel a little over a week ago.  Yay me!  

Shortly thereafter, Mollie asked me if I knew how it was going to end when I started writing.  “No,” I told her.  Not only did I have no idea how it was going to end, the truth is, most mornings I had no idea where we were headed when I sat down to write.  

17 months ago, when I started writing about the Ptolemies of Egypt, I was writing historical fiction about strong women who had really truly lived and led, but were, in my opinion, misremembered by history.  The mother and sisters of history’s most famous queen have plenty of tales of their own and I’ve been building a world where they thrive and struggle and love and lose, amidst these magical monuments and storied historical moments the world still knows.  And then, out of nowhere, about 30,000 words ago, a dragon blew in and unleashed a torrent of magic that changed absolutely everything.

You see, the novel I finished last Friday was the third in a series I liken to a darker, edgier, more seductive and deadlier Bridgerton.  My stories are set in a marble palace full of secret rooms and passageways hidden behind walls, nestled on an island where the Nile meets the sea, in the final days of Egypt’s Pharaohs.  Through two and two thirds of a novel, I wrote historical fiction.

And now I write fantasy.  Beautiful, magical, sexy fantasy.

For this story (for these stories!) to achieve its greatest potential, I had to let go of my own expectations and demands, years of research and knowledge, and follow wherever it wanted to lead.  It has been an inspiring and mind blowing ride, following these extraordinary women, my leading ladies, these brilliant, magical, mysterious Queens of Egypt.  I’ve been both witness and participant as my creativity stretched my mind, body and ka beyond its imposed limits.   

For these stories to take flight, I had to be open to possibility within each encounter, I had to look through every open door (and wowsa, the doors in this palace lead to some creepy and unexpected places!), I had to explore who else and where else things might be.  And I had to let all of it come to me in ways that are having a profound impact on not just these stories I’m telling, but throughout the rest of my life, relationships and careers.  Because I’m learning to let it all come to me as and when it will.

And with this, I invite you to do the same.  Whether it’s within a matter that’s taking up a lot of your brain space, maybe there’s something else that’s been niggling away at you to support a client in a different way, maybe you’re feeling stalled or uncomfortable in a relationship, perhaps it’s your career that feels stagnant.  Wherever it is and whatever is making you feel stuck and frustrated, get curious about it, wonder about it, follow it when it leads you into unexpected questions and answers and places and thoughts.  Because you never know where you might find just the magic you need.  

And then be ready for whatever that magic unleashes.  Looking at my own task list, I have to rebrand myself as a fantasy novelist, write all new query and marketing materials, and I have to rewrite my first two novels because they too need to be dusted with magic and dragons.  And while it is thrilling to imagine the journey ahead, it also feels daunting.  

I am humbled that it took 49 years and three novels to release my need to control all the things.  And I am so so grateful.  I still have no idea where or how it’s all going to shake out in the end, but now that the magic is unleashed, I trust that I’ll be fine, probably even better than fine.  I just have to keep doing the work and let it all unfold as and when it will. 

So turning this around to you, where in your life and career do you want to dust a little magic?  And what are you going to do about it?

~Kelli

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