Writing My Novel: The Unspoken Goal

Star Wars Heir to the Empire Cover Timothy ZahnI’ve written before about my goals as a writer, both long-term and short-term. In the long-term, I want to be able to eventually make my living from my writing. In the short term (before the end of summer 2011), I just want to get my second draft of Birthright finished and the rough draft of Blood Rites started.

However, short term goals don’t keep one motivated.  Short term goals are stopgaps.  For half of my life (roughly the past 15 years or so), I have had one goal in the back of my head that, until recently, I had never even considered a “goal.” Not really.

As I’ve been working my way through my summer reading list, I came to the realization that before I die, I want to write write a Star Wars novel.  A real, licensed, fully authorized novel set in the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

A Fanboy’s Dream?

I’ve been a Star Wars fan since I was a kid. I remember one summer when I fast forwarded through every single dubbed VHS tape my parents had looking for Star Wars Episodes I-III because my 7-year-old mind couldn’t wrap around a story starting with Episode IV.

Since that summer, I have lived, breathed, and eaten Star Wars.  I’ve watched the movies hundreds of times, read dozens of novels, and played through every Star Wars video game I could get my hands on (I even hologrinded out a Jedi in Star Wars Galaxies before the dreaded CU and NGE). I have replica lightsabers, autographs, and blueprints for blasters.

I have fallen out of being an endless well of trivia, but at one point, my friends would call me if they thought an author made a mistake in a Star Wars novel they were reading.

So to be able to write the characters I know like family, to impact the franchise’s history, and to have my affection legitimized like that would be the most fulfilling thing that could happen to me as a writer.

Why Not Just Write Star Wars Fan Fiction?

Because first of all: eww.  Fan fiction?  Really?

And second of all, it would legitimize nothing.  In fan fiction, anything can and does happen.  And none of it really matters; nothing is at stake.  When you can write a story about Han Solo and Luke Skywalker making passionate love to one another under the twin suns of Tatooine, but so what?  Who cares? If your story is the only place that event is “real,” then what have you done?

If that story was signed-off on by the fine folks at Skywalker Ranch, then it means something.  (Just don’t tell that to the authors who wrote the backstory for Boba Fett that George Lucas completely disregarded in Attack of the Clones.)

Some of you may be looking at me like I’m crazy right now.  After all, I’m talking about this super, long-term goal and how it will legitimize me as an author and a fan, but I’m also planning on self-publishing an ebook later this year.  With the stigma that goes along with self-publishing, you may ask, how can I be worried about legitimizing myself?

Well, here’s the thing.  Self-publishing is becoming more legitimate all the time.  Every month I read about another handful of authors who are making their dreams come true by working hard, writing good books, and working their tails off marketing it.  They get agents, they go on to (potentially) get a NYC publishing deal—if they want one—and either way, they are legitimized.  Despite, and perhaps because of, self-publishing.

Where Do We Do Now?

We do the only thing we can do: write.

We write good books.  We write as many good books and as many good stories as we can.  We get them out there for people to read, either through traditional publishing or through self-publishing, and we get people to read them.  At some point, we get an agent.  We express our desire to said agent about wanting to write a franchise novel, and the ball gets rolling.

What happens after that is completely unknown to me, but it all starts with writing.  Anything after that is irrelevant, at least for a while.

Step 1: Write

Step 2: ???

Step 3: Profit

Easy right?

What Is Your Unspoken Goal?

I know I can’t be alone in this.  I know I can’t be the only one who has harbored a dream I didn’t even know I had for a long time.  So think about it, in the best of all worlds, if you were able to do absolutely anything you wanted to, what would you do?

What is that one goal you unconsciously work toward without even realizing it?