Why?

We need to back up just a bit and ask the question . . . Why?

My eighth grade English teacher, Mrs. Kicklighter, knew why. No one in her class knew why, especially me, at least not at first.

I dreaded Mrs. Kicklighter’s class, not because she was the teacher, but because of the subject matter. Little did I know, however, as I walked into her classroom that morning, and saw the record player on her desk, that the next two days with Mrs. K would leave a lasting impression on me, one that still inspires me, some forty-five years later.

Mrs. K, God rest her soul, was a bit of a strange bird. She was an old lady, probably in her mid-fifties (for an eighth grader that’s older than dirt), she had stringy hair that never seemed brushed, she wore thick-lensed glasses that hung lopsided on her face, her dresses always had flowery patterns, and she walked a little hunched over, yes, a strange bird.

Case in point, the only other thing (yes, I will get back to the subject shortly) that I remember from her class (because I certainly didn’t retain a lick of spelling, grammar, or proper punctuation. Why would I need these? I was going to be an engineer?) was that eating wheat bran every day was good for the digestive system. Go ahead and laugh, but I’ve been regular ever since. I know that was gross but Meda’s not around so I got away with it.

When we were all seated, Mrs. K closed the classroom door, walked over to her desk, put a 45 onto the turntable, and lowered the needle to the disk. (For those of you who are too young to know what a record player is, it was a device used to play music back in the caveman days.)

The song that played was “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel. I had never heard the song before that day. After playing it twice, Mrs. K asked us to close our eyes, put our heads down on the desk, and listen to the words very carefully.

When the song ended again, Mrs. K hunched around the room handing us each a sheet of paper containing the song lyrics written in her handwriting. She played the song several more times and we read along. Some guy with a baritone voice in the back of the room started to sing, which I remember finding very annoying.

Our homework assignment that night was to study the lyrics word-by-word, line-by-line. What did they mean?

I was fascinated. I brought the whole thing up at the dinner table that night and my parents, my sister, and I talked about it for over an hour. Was it a song or a message? The answer, of course, was that it is both. For me the experience was life changing, a lesson I will always remember.

So the question is . . . why? Why did Mrs. Kicklighter lug her record player into class that day and play us that song? Was she tired of talking about word usage and sentence structure and just wanted to listen to music? Was she hoping the big kid who always sat in the back of the room (me) might somehow stay awake for at least two days?

I think not. I think she did it because she had a passion. She loved what she did. She loved to teach, and she was good at it. She was willing to pull out all of the stops, rack her brain, and go the extra mile if it meant her students would take something meaningful away from her lesson. She cared about us. And as it turns out she wasn’t a strange bird after all, she was a swan.

So with the first sentence of your novel ready to go, and before you spend countless hours writing, editing, publishing, and then marketing your book, you need to ask yourself why. Why am I doing this?

If your answer is that you want to be rich and famous, that’s fine, but you need to know that that’s probably not going to happen. I’ll stop right there because only you know your own why. If you don’t know your why, (yes, here comes another homework assignment) then you should think about it long and hard. Write it down and put it somewhere close by. On those days when the words aren’t flowing, it will be a helpful reminder.

I write because I absolutely love it. I love every part of it. I can’t get enough of it. It brings me great satisfaction. Like Mrs. K and her teaching, writing is my passion. I’m willing to pull out all of the stops, rack my brain and go the extra mile if at the end of the day I’ve written a story that I’ve enjoyed telling myself and one that hopefully others will find entertaining.

I’ll close with some words that I heard somewhere along the way:

Hear my words that I might teach you

Take my arms that I might reach you

But my words, like silent raindrops fell

And echoed in the wells of silence.

The Rule of Firsts

William P. Bahlke hoiding his first grandchild, Kimber Rose. 

William P. Bahlke hoiding his first grandchild, Kimber Rose. 

The next time you find yourself in a bookstore – yes, there are still a few of those around – grab a cup of that wonderful hot chocolate, and find a comfy chair with a clear view of the display holding the current top ten best-selling books. You are here to observe.

There are three types of people who frequent bookstores. There is the over-achiever who will come into the store knowing exactly what book he or she wants to buy. Watch them as they beeline their way to the help desk or head directly to their subject section of interest. They spot their book, grab it off the shelf, glance at the price, proceed to the cashier, and then out the door they go. This entire process can take less than a few minutes.

Next, there is the browser. Typically, the browser saunters in, pauses at the bargain rack, scratches his ear, and then will mosey over to the best seller table.

Now, watch this person (I’ll call him Bob) carefully keeping the title of this blog in mind. There will be a test.

The first thing that catches Bob’s eye is the book cover. You can’t judge a book by its cover, but you won’t sell your book without a great looking cover.

The next thing Bob ponders is the title of the book. Catchy titles with a hook will sell a book more often than not.

Bob will then take note of the author’s name. We’ll ignore this observation and pretend it never happened. Let’s face it, unless your birth name happens to be Stephen King or John Grisham, your name at this point in your career isn’t going to help you sell many books.

Next, Bob will turn the book over and read the back cover copy (the tease). Somewhere down the road someone will ask you to take your three-hundred-page novel and condense it down to two or three make-or-break paragraphs. Trust me, this assignment can be as painstaking as writing the book itself.

Bob is now smiling. (We’ve almost sold a book!) Here comes the final test. While standing in line at the cash register, Bob opens the book and reads the first line. Bingo! We got ‘em . . . right? We wrote a killer first line . . . didn’t we? Of course, we did!

By the way, the other people who hang out in bookstores are those who, just like you, have read this blog and are doing exactly what you are doing. It might be the guy sitting to your right or the girl at the table across the room. They’re both sipping on hot chocolate. Just smile and wave. They feel as silly as you do.

I will talk in later blogs about book covers, backstory, titles, and, yes, even author names. What I want to hit on now before I give you your homework (yes, I said homework) is the first line of your novel.

Now, you’ve always wanted to write a book. You have an idea for it, and you’ve probably written down the first line a time or two before stuffing the piece of paper into a drawer next to your old black book and slide rule. Did he just say slide rule?

So, how do you get started with YOUR novel? I’m not the brightest icon on the screen, but even I can answer that question. You begin with the first line. And remember, the first line is the most important line in the book. Bob didn’t turn to chapter six to make a final decision on buying that book. He did so after reading the first line.

Now, here’s your assignment. Get out your computer or a pad of paper and a pencil. (Yes, I said pencil. It’s the leaded device with the delete button on the end closest to you.) If that fails, just grab a crayon and the old pizza box, the one still on your kitchen counter from three days ago. Close your eyes. Think about what you’re getting ready to do, and write the first line of your book. Wow! Excellent job! Very few people have done what you just did. You’ve just started your novel. Congratulations!

Next, work on this line for a day or two until you are completely satisfied with how it reads. Ask yourself, will someone who reads this first line be intrigued enough to buy my book? Feel free to send me your first line at william@williampbahlke.com. We’ll chat about it and have some fun.

Now, I wouldn’t ask you to jump off the bridge unless I was willing to jump with you. Here’s the first line from a book I’m working on. It’s raw and unedited so be kind with any comments, but I would love your thoughts.

Terrance Cleaver, Trans World Life and Casualty Corporation’s newest and youngest-ever director felt nauseous, disgusted by what he had just been a party to, and repulsed at having willing participated in the board’s unanimous decision.

142 United Street

Ed and Frances Bahlke holding their adopted son, William P. Bahlke

Ed and Frances Bahlke holding their adopted son, William P. Bahlke

“Was this to be expected? . . . I must say . . . I find it to be rather intriguing.”

His introduction was aimed at an elderly gardener who was kneeling face down with a small shovel in her left hand. Dressed in white from head to toe, she was hard at work behind a decorative white wooden fence abutting the sidewalk on which he was standing.

He cleared his voice twice and watched as she dug deep into the soil to remove a stubborn weed by its roots. She shook off the excess dirt and then deposited her prize into a metal bucket before finally glaring up toward his unwelcomed interruption.

The brim of her straw hat was partially deflecting the sun’s afternoon rays, but the glare, nonetheless, kept her from capturing a full assessment of him. She was squinting, and through the slits he could see them. He could see her piercing hazel eyes.

As she returned to her task, he glanced one more time at the address he had scribbled on his right palm, 142 United Street, he was indeed at the right place.

Not sure what to say next, he said nothing at all, choosing rather to study his surroundings, absorbing the moment. He was really here. This was really happening.

His travels had never taken him to this place, but this place had always been where he traveled. It was not at all what he had expected. It was, however, what he had always hoped it would be. It was perfect. There was only one thing missing.

She was by herself in a house much too big for one to live in alone. She had recently had the structure repainted, selecting a shade of coral for its main body and accenting its doors, windows, and hurricane shutters using glossy white enamel. She had wondered at the time about the next selection, knowing that she would not be the one to choose.

It was a two-story house with a wrap-around porch decorated with rocking chairs, flowering plants, scattered pillows, and colorful artwork perfectly positioned. There were a number of cats. He had already counted at least four. On a table by the front steps sat a pitcher of lemonade of which he was about to inquire when…

“And what precisely do you find so intriguing, young man?”

He wasn’t exactly a young man. He was quickly approaching his sixtieth.

How had time slipped so swiftly by? Who had set his priorities?

All of a sudden, it seemed he was, one by one, dismissing unfulfilled dreams, many of which now, because of his age and dimensioned capacity, would remain unfulfilled, but not this one.

Her sweet voice. He listened to it once again in his head. It reminded him of someone in his past. But, who could that possibly have been? He had heard a lot of voices in his life, but none quite like this one. This one struck a cord deep inside of him. He would never forget her voice. He never wanted to.

He returned his eyes to hers. She was now standing, studying him with an intense curiosity. It was as if she knew. But how could she? He had not called ahead.

“It’s just that it’s raining, sprinkling actually, with the sun out. Don’t you find that unusual?”

Her head cocked sideways like a puzzled puppy, and her eyebrows crinkled together, staring now at him as if he were from another planet.

She quizzed, “Has it always been one way or the other with you: sun or rain, dark or light, hot or cold? Are the answers always so obvious, or should one pursue another’s perspective and insight to truly understand the whys of life?”

He stuttered, “That’s why I’m here . . . I mean . . . That’s why I’ve asked you if this was to be expected. I was interested in your perspective and insight.”

She had moved to her right, out of the glow of the sun, and she was now able to see him clearly. He was taller than she had thought he would be. He was very handsome. She had anticipated that. His voice . . . He had a slight accent. English? Irish? She couldn’t tell. Had he been there, to England or Ireland? Had he gone to those places looking for her before coming here? She had moved from there so long ago.

“So your intrusion today is for the purpose of satisfying your curiosity?” She continued. “Are you here seeking only answers to riddles you’ve not been able to solve yourself? Might your journey prove to be a cruel passing? Surely, if you wanted my perspective and insight, you would have sought them out before now.”

Changing the subject, if only momentarily, he inquired, “I see that there’s lemonade in that pitcher on the porch. Would you mind if I . . . ”

Not happy with his diversion, she interrupted, “There’s plenty of lemonade and plenty of weeds. Help yourself to both.”

They knelt side by side until the metal bucket was nearly full and until he finally broke the silence.

“As you cast away those weeds, will you say a prayer wishing them never to return? Will their unexpected reappearance in your garden cause you disappointment, maybe even sadness?”

She did not look his way with her response, even tilting her head away to hide her emotion.

“Some decisions, young man, are easy and some are hard. Despite one’s good intentions, certain actions can result in unbearable guilt and sorrow. But, these choices are made for a reason of the time and could never be understood by those not confronted with their burden.

“As you have observed, I dig weeds out by their roots and, in doing so, I never expect them to return. I am, however, never saddened when they do. I was not a gardener until later in life. I never thought I would be any good at it or enjoy it. I’ve always felt that my garden would be better served being tended to by others. Possibly, I was wrong.”

He stood, offering his hand, which she accepted. He helped her up the stairs and onto the porch. He poured them each a fresh glass of lemonade. He sat beside her on the swing and then began in a soft voice, “I have traveled many roads before reaching this one. I have always known that I would eventually make the right turn. I did, however, wonder where the road would end and what would be there when I arrived. I never wanted to walk down a path leading to an unwelcoming terminus. I am not a cruel man and do not seek answers only for myself. I hope to give answers where there are also questions. I pray to fill not only my own voids but . . . ”

He saw a tear trickling down her cheek and used his handkerchief to wipe it. She had a distant stare and showed no signs of talking.

A black and white kitten jumped onto his lap and started rubbing itself against his chest. He scratched its head and asked it its name.

“That’s Checkers. She’s my youngest, a stray. Key West is full of them. They all seem to find me, and I can’t possibly turn them away. I’ve probably turned too many things away in my life. But, now, I’ve learned to accept what the good Lord has to offer. I no longer ask the question why. I just welcome these blessings with open arms and an open heart.”

She looked over at his eyes…her eyes. He was looking down at Checkers and petting the purring kitty’s head. He was a gentle man. Of all things, this is what she had hoped for the most. She had harbored guilt and grief for too long. She needed his perspective, his understanding, and, most of all, his forgiveness.

She didn’t know how long he would stay, or if she would ever see or hear from him again after this day. She didn’t know until now that he even knew she existed. She wanted to hold him close to her and explain everything. She wanted to cry. They had missed out on so much, but he was here now. Without thinking, the question escaped her mouth, “Have you got a place to stay . . . while you’re in town, I mean? I have lots of room in this big house. You’re welcome to . . . ”

He continued petting the kitten. Truth was he hadn’t planned on staying here, on this island, and he certainly hadn’t expected her invitation. What he also hadn’t expected was the sudden, overwhelming love and compassion he felt for her.

The past was just that. Lord knows he has made countless, regretful decisions of his own. How he wished he could go back and change so many of them. So, who was he to judge? What has really taken him so long to find her? His hesitancy has only resulted in the loss of treasured moments, stolen memories that can never be replaced.

She put her hand on his and with her touch he felt the years of doubt and sorrow melting away. Locked in a moment like none other, they sat quietly, communicating only with their eyes.

She had a tenderness he hadn’t anticipated. Sure, she was feeble at her age, but she had a spunk that was contagious. He enjoyed being with her. He wanted to share so many things with her. He needed so many answers. He had no place else he needed to be, no place else he wanted to be. He felt at home here. He felt needed.

“I’d love to stay with you if it’s not a bother.”

She stood facing him.

He gently lowered Checkers to the ground and rose to embrace her.

“You can stay with me as long as you’d like. You could never be a bother to me. You may not have always known it, but you are always welcome here and always will be.

“You are my son.”

Snowbird Mountain Lodge

View from Snowbird Mountain Lodge overlooking Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest

View from Snowbird Mountain Lodge overlooking Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest

The drive is steep near the inn, climb the hill, around the bend.

Once on top, behold the view, what nature has in store for you.

In the lodge the fire glows, melting stress from head to toe.

Greeted like a long lost friend, get ready for some pampering.

Settle in, look around, yes, paradise is what you’ve found.

Holding hands, sharing love, give your thanks to God above.

Then take a hike, cast a line, or sneak a nap ‘til dinnertime.

Share a dream with your new friend; throw a worry to the wind.

Sip a red by candlelight and read yourself to sleep at night.

Time will fly, so take it in and know you’re coming back again,

‘Cause never will you say goodbye to where the mountains kiss the sky.

Visit Snowbird Mountain Lodge

Why I’m Writing This Blog and Why You Should Read It

william p bahlke writing

“I’ve always wanted to write a novel . . . How did you do it?”

Now that my first book has been published and is being read, mostly by people I’ve given free copies to, I get that question all the time. Of course, I would prefer to answer questions about my protagonist, a particular scene in the book, or whether I’m working on a sequel, but I understand why the question is being asked. I was asking it myself just one year ago.

So, I decided to conduct a statistical analysis. Hey, I’m still an engineer. I’m allowed to do that sort of thing.

We live part of the year outside of the quaint little town of Sparta in the mountains of North Carolina. It’s the kind of place where people leave their doors unlocked at night, leave their cars running when they dart into the grocery store for a gallon of milk, and allow their kids to walk to school in the morning and ride their bikes to the park in the afternoon without parental oversight. It’s a place where everyone says hello to you on the street or when walk into a store. You get the picture.

So, let’s get back to the statistical analysis. I was sitting on a bench outside of the coffee shop on Main Street sipping on a cup of delicious brew. The temperature was in the high sixties, not unusual for an early August morning in the mountains. The first fellow to walk by me was in his mid-forties about average height and build. He seemed to be headed in the direction of the barbershop, in no particular hurry.

“Sir,” I said, standing and offering my hand, “my name is Bill Bahlke and I’m–”

“You’re conducting a statistical analysis,” he chirped taking my hand and giving it a firm shake, “and I’ll be happy to participate.”

The man didn’t really say that, which leads me to the point. If you’re going to follow this blog, you need to realize that I often make things up. I’m a writer of fiction. If I didn’t enjoy making things up, I might as well be writing an encyclopedia. I will promise you one thing, however, I won’t make things up when it comes to answering the question, “How did you do it?”

That leads me to another question, one that I was asking myself just last week. “What is the purpose of this blog?”

I have just published (self-published) my first book, Frisbee Ball Rules and I am very proud of it.

Wow! That is a statement that I only dreamed of making one year ago, and I can’t tell you the satisfaction I get seeing it in writing or saying it out loud. For me, it fulfills a life long dream and those don’t come by the dozen.

Just wait until the day the first copy of your book arrives in the mail. You’ll sit down on your couch, open the package, and there it is, your labor of love. I can’t begin to describe that experience. Let’s just say that it doesn’t — hold on a second“Honey, am I allowed to say the word suck in my blog post?” I guess not. Sorry.

So, how did I do it? How did I turn off the left side of my brain and start to write? And, what were my many blunders along the way? What tricks did I learn? What shortcuts did I discovered? What can I share with you that will make it easier for you to realize your own dream? That is the purpose of this blog. I’m also going to give you encouragement and someone to bounce ideas off of, if you choose to do so. This is not one-sided. I hope to learn from you as well.

That’s the purpose of this blog. That’s why I’m writing it. The next question is why should you read it? You could, after all, go online right now and buy one or more of the many books that have been written on the subject by the recognized experts. You could attend a writers’ conference and sit through several sessions. You could actually take a class at a writing school or a university. (By the way, I’ve done all of these and if you have the time and inclination, I highly recommend them.) But . . . don’t you just love the word “but” . . . all of those lessons are either written or taught by people who have published dozens of books themselves. They are so far removed from the likes of you and me that they have forgotten what it is like to be a newbie. They are at a different level than us. We will get there, but let’s take it slow. And plus, reading this blog is free.

As a matter of disclosure, I am not an expert of any kind on the subject. I’m not an editor, publisher, a book promoter, or an award-winning author. I’m the guy you can point at and say, “If he can do it, I can do it. If he can do it, anybody can do it.”

Now let’s get back to the statistical analysis, and stop interrupting me. My coffee is getting cold. The point is this. For every person who writes a book and has it published, there are dozens who dream of doing just that and never do. Don’t be one of those guys. You can do this. Now, let’s get started.

Don’t be shy! Come on over and introduce yourself on my Facebook page and let me know if I can help!“I’ve always wanted to write a novel . . . How did you do it?”

Now that my first book has been published and is being read, mostly by people I’ve given free copies to, I get that question all the time. Of course, I would prefer to answer questions about my protagonist, a particular scene in the book, or whether I’m working on a sequel, but I understand why the question is being asked. I was asking it myself just one year ago.

So, I decided to conduct a statistical analysis. Hey, I’m still an engineer. I’m allowed to do that sort of thing.

We live part of the year outside of the quaint little town of Sparta in the mountains of North Carolina. It’s the kind of place where people leave their doors unlocked at night, leave their cars running when they dart into the grocery store for a gallon of milk, and allow their kids to walk to school in the morning and ride their bikes to the park in the afternoon without parental oversight. It’s a place where everyone says hello to you on the street or when walk into a store. You get the picture.

So, let’s get back to the statistical analysis. I was sitting on a bench outside of the coffee shop on Main Street sipping on a cup of delicious brew. The temperature was in the high sixties, not unusual for an early August morning in the mountains. The first fellow to walk by me was in his mid-forties about average height and build. He seemed to be headed in the direction of the barbershop, in no particular hurry.

“Sir,” I said, standing and offering my hand, “my name is Bill Bahlke and I’m–”

“You’re conducting a statistical analysis,” he chirped taking my hand and giving it a firm shake, “and I’ll be happy to participate.”

The man didn’t really say that, which leads me to the point. If you’re going to follow this blog, you need to realize that I often make things up. I’m a writer of fiction. If I didn’t enjoy making things up, I might as well be writing an encyclopedia. I will promise you one thing, however, I won’t make things up when it comes to answering the question, “How did you do it?”

That leads me to another question, one that I was asking myself just last week. “What is the purpose of this blog?”

I have just published (self-published) my first book, Frisbee Ball Rules and I am very proud of it.

Wow! That is a statement that I only dreamed of making one year ago, and I can’t tell you the satisfaction I get seeing it in writing or saying it out loud. For me, it fulfills a life long dream and those don’t come by the dozen.

Just wait until the day the first copy of your book arrives in the mail. You’ll sit down on your couch, open the package, and there it is, your labor of love. I can’t begin to describe that experience. Let’s just say that it doesn’t — hold on a second“Honey, am I allowed to say the word suck in my blog post?” I guess not. Sorry.

So, how did I do it? How did I turn off the left side of my brain and start to write? And, what were my many blunders along the way? What tricks did I learn? What shortcuts did I discovered? What can I share with you that will make it easier for you to realize your own dream? That is the purpose of this blog. I’m also going to give you encouragement and someone to bounce ideas off of, if you choose to do so. This is not one-sided. I hope to learn from you as well.

That’s the purpose of this blog. That’s why I’m writing it. The next question is why should you read it? You could, after all, go online right now and buy one or more of the many books that have been written on the subject by the recognized experts. You could attend a writers’ conference and sit through several sessions. You could actually take a class at a writing school or a university. (By the way, I’ve done all of these and if you have the time and inclination, I highly recommend them.) But . . . don’t you just love the word “but” . . . all of those lessons are either written or taught by people who have published dozens of books themselves. They are so far removed from the likes of you and me that they have forgotten what it is like to be a newbie. They are at a different level than us. We will get there, but let’s take it slow. And plus, reading this blog is free.

As a matter of disclosure, I am not an expert of any kind on the subject. I’m not an editor, publisher, a book promoter, or an award-winning author. I’m the guy you can point at and say, “If he can do it, I can do it. If he can do it, anybody can do it.”

Now let’s get back to the statistical analysis, and stop interrupting me. My coffee is getting cold. The point is this. For every person who writes a book and has it published, there are dozens who dream of doing just that and never do. Don’t be one of those guys. You can do this. Now, let’s get started.

Don’t be shy! Come on over and introduce yourself on my Facebook page and let me know if I can help!

Spit Spat

It’s been three years, but I remember the encounter as if it were yesterday. My retirement party was a low-key affair, at my insistence, attended by a handful of close colleagues and friends, a couple of clients, and my wife, Meda. If it had been up to me, I would have skipped the occasion altogether, but Meda is quite a stickler about certain things . . . case in point . . . one needing to attend one’s own retirement party.

There was food . . . I think . . . a cheese tray, sandwiches, crackers, maybe chips. There was definitely beer, wine, and liquor.

I was off in the corner talking to a close associate whom I had known for over thirty years.

“So, Bill, what do you plan on doing to keep yourself busy now that you’re retired.”

It was a fair question, one that I’d been asked a number of times, and one that I was prepared to answer. Only this time my reply would contain a wrinkle the truth.

“Well, Vicky, You know I like to exercise, so I plan on doing a lot of that. We love to travel, and we have a long list of places we want to visit, and (here comes the bomb) I’m going to write a novel.”

I’d never seen a plate of food do a mid-air one-eighty and land so perfectly upside down on the floor. Vicky looked at her full glass of wine and then over to the bar area before realizing the “I need a refill” excuse wasn’t going to work. She grimaced and took two steps backward. She could see from my expression that I was waiting for her feedback. She was in hell without a fan or a fire extinguisher. She was trapped.

“But, Bill, you’re an engineer, not a writer. I mean, you’re real good at math and science, but (Vicky was clearly regaining her composure) to be totally honest, you can’t write worth a damn. I’m not trying to be critical, but some of your e-mails, I mean, I have no idea what you’re trying to say. But, Bill, (Vicky’s bluntness had embarrassed her) I do look forward to reading your book. Please let me know the minute it’s published.”

With that said, and after two chugs, Vicky’s wine glass was indeed empty. She gave me a closed mouth smile, turned, and headed toward the bar, all the while shaking her head and muttering something under her breath.

As I watched her walk away, I couldn’t help but smile myself, a big smile, maybe even a little giggle. Vicky was right and I knew it, but my answer was still the same. “I’m going to write a novel.”