On Planning, Themes, & Truth

In the lead-up to November 1, I’m thinking a lot about my next novel and planning for National Novel Writing Month (NaNo). The one in queue for publication (as soon as I finish the synopsis and submit it) has a strong focus on behavioral health and chemical dependency, and I’ve decided to make substance use disorders (SUD) a recurring theme that ties three or more books together.

I use the writing software Scrivener, which has all kinds of fun organizing features like a Notes sidebar and a Synopsis sidebar and an Outline sidebar and Notecards on a corkboard that you can drag around and rearrange. It makes organizing the novel almost as fun as writing it! There are also cool formatting things that let you turn out your own ebook when you’re done, but I haven’t gotten that far! I’ve only done about 25k words of a project that I think is going to end up being one of those long-term side projects that I come back to in between other projects. It’s about the apocalypse and the rapture and zombies, and it’s called The Resurrection and the Life.

But as I said, for now, the focus will continue to be SUD and behavioral health. I don’t want to get preachy and harp on about it, but most people don’t understand addiction, and it’s important that they do. Sharing stories about people is the best way to explain most truths, I believe, especially when the stories are fiction. I mean, if I tell you someone egged the vehicles in the treatment center parking lot, you’ll probably sigh a bit or roll your eyes because the behavior reinforces the stereotype and the stigma.

If I tell you a story about life in a sober living house, you’ll get to learn the trauma, the triggers, and the hard work that people in recovery go through every day. Then, you start to want to cheer them on, and when they make mistakes — like egging vehicles because their decision-making and impulse-control functions in their brains are messed up — you don’t abandon them with an eye roll or a sigh. You’re invested in their success. And that’s my goal. I’m thinking about calling the series the SUD Chronicles.

But we’ll see. First, I have to get that synopsis written so I can submit the one that’s finished!

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