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Lean-to on the beach. Astoria, OR. Photo copyright Jonny Eberle.

This year, I committed to writing a novel. This week, I crossed the ten thousand word mark. After months of working on my premise, dreaming about the plot, and writing dialogue in my head, it’s starting to feel real. So, I thought I would share how I’m feeling at various stages of the process.

The first ten thousand words of a novel are a wild thing. You don’t know if it’s friendly or dangerous, predator or prey, but you can feel it breathing and you know that’s alive and beautiful. No one else has ever seen it before — you are the first to lay eyes on it. It is yours and yet still untamed, belonging to no one but itself. You find yourself drawn to it. You need to understand it.

The first ten thousand words are the unwrapping of a package that’s secured with glue and tape and twine and layers of sturdy paper. Each layer reveals another layer you didn’t know existed and only slowly do you start to get glimpses beneath the brown paper at the glistening thing within. You want nothing more than to unwrap the whole thing now, but you know that it will be more rewarding to take your time and inspect each facet as it comes into view.

The first ten thousand words are the planting of a flag on a desolate shore. Passersby scoff at you, but they can only see the sand. They cannot see the possibilities. They cannot see the city that you will build here. They cannot imagine how something so great can start out so humbly. You build a home on the desolate shore. Someday, it will seem small, but not today. Today, it is a palace.

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Jonny Eberle is a writer in Tacoma, WA. His latest short story, The Disappeared, appears in Creative Colloquy Vol. 4, which you can find at King’s Books in Tacoma. Follow him on Twitter and subscribe to his monthly newsletter for exclusive content and recommended reads.

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