Zack's Blog

My First Novel the Beginning

Published 2016-05-28 4 min read

Almost a year ago I set out on a journey, and though I haven’t reached the end of it, I’ve come to a major milestone: my novel exists! I can’t believe it, but it actually exists!

While there’s still considerable work to do to bring it to a truly finished state, I think this is a good time to reflect on how we got here.


It all began with reading, the sister discipline of writing.

A few years back, I rediscovered my love for reading which had been temporarily dampened by a glut of non-fiction. In this way, I was probably similar to some of you, initially an avid fan of fiction but steadily converted to a non-fiction reader by the demands of real life. As such, I was reading the same kinds of books over and over. . .after a bit they all blurred together within their categories. Needless to say, I was exceedingly bored with the rehashing of the same concepts.

Such a shame really. I look back on those years where I was disenchanted with reading as lost time, to some degree. My creativity dampened, my mind closed to possibilities, yet relentlessly focused on becoming more “effective.”

Overcoming Fear

So I wanted to start reading again and had fashioned the idea of forming a Science Fiction Book Club as a means to many ends: more time with friends, more epic meals, and a vehicle to help re-engage with fiction. But there was only one problem: I was afraid to start it.

  • What if none of my friends shared the interest?
  • What if I started it and it fell apart?
  • What if it wasn’t very fun?
  • Would I even have the time to do a bunch of reading?

You get the idea, I was held back by numerous fears, which in hindsight now seem like so many scarecrows. Deterrents to deprive me of sustenance.

So with much trepidation, I sent out those emails. Casting a net out to friends that I thought might be interested.

Steven Pressfield calls it Resistance and this fear was my first battle with it. More on that later, as there would be many more skirmishes.

The Book Club

And then, on June 19th, 2014, I hosted my first Science Fiction Book Club. Together we read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and the excitement of that story – mixed with the awesome discussion afterwards – toppled the fear and kicked my reading into high gear. I’ve been reading nearly a book a week ever since, most of which I’ve kept track of on my website. I simply couldn’t imagine going back.

Fast forward through a year of so many epic books by the greats of Science Fiction. So many nights well spent with friends feasting on fine food and wine while our minds voyaged far and wide within the genre. Magnificent.

Little did I know that the opportunity to host some special guests would change things again for me. Greg and Astrid Bear visited our book club in June 2015 for our discussion of Foundation shortly after we read Eon. That night was transformative for me, semi-sacred in a secular sort of way.

Greg’s books are multifaceted hard sci-fi wonders, but even in the darkest depths of a gray goo thriller, there’s a high amplitude vision of the future which resonates deeply for me. I’m struck by the marvel of his stories, the sheer possibility of what the future could be like for humanity. I was inspired.

I saw that Science Fiction can bring a future about and can also make sense of the past. Of course, they also entertain which is a wonderful gift on its own!

Anyway, I think my brain was so awash with ideas, the conversation of that night, and the vast possibilities of Science Fiction that a character arc crystallized in my mind.

I had a story, but I had no idea what to do next. That’s where I’ll pick up in the next post.