Exploring my beats today and I decided: this wants to be a long, long story. A long fun story. Akira wants to go to the Belize Zoo and the Cayo market. She wants to go inner-tubing in the caves and she wants to meet the little boy ghost who’s haunting the river bank.

So for an hour I happily scribbled scene notes down. They can go to the zoo, but what else will happen there? In the market, does she run into another ghost? Does Zane get frustrated because he can’t protect her?

And then I realized–this isn’t a romance. Zane and Akira are already together. Yes, the relationship is going to have some moments of strain as they face adversity together. Yes, their alternative approaches to solving problems is going to become a front-and-center conflict. But they start out the book on their happily-ever-after and they end it there, too. Is it cheating my readers if I’m not writing romance after writing three clear romances? Will people be disappointed?

I spent the next few hours anguishing over such life-and-death questions. And then I remembered–I’m just writing my first million words. And I’m self-publishing. I can do anything I want to do. This isn’t a career–it’s fun. So tomorrow the little boy on the riverbank returns and Akira and Zane head to the zoo. And my story beats start expanding, probably by a lot. I haven’t resolved the question of what happens to my old lady ghost, so I still need to work on that, but one way or another, I’m writing this story the way it wants to be written. And if, at the end, all I have is another 60,000 words to add to my million-word goal, well, that’s good enough.

I need to remember more often that my goals are 1) to have fun and 2) to give other people some fun and 3) to become a better writer and that 4) to earn a living through writing fiction is the kind of fourth that doesn’t even get near the medal stand.