I was right. :)
This evening, aided and abetted by Mozart and yesterday's busy afternoon of research, I wrote the first draft of the end of my new Michael Macbeth novel. It's only two single-spaced pages of prose, but it's a critical two pages -- i.e., it's the moment that the rest of the book will be working toward. It contains motifs to be expanded, thematic undertones to be plunged, boatloads of conflict, and a big, BIG decision on Michael's part, a decision of vital importance not only to him, but to the whole world. This is a climax strong enough to support a novel-length story, and in fact, a climax that requires a novel-length story to work up to it!
I am very pleased -- not just by the piece, but also by its implications. You see, cartooning, while a wonderful hobby, is not something I'll be able to make a career out of. But writing novels might be. And even if it never replaces my day job, if I can build and sustain it as a side career, I'll have a retirement fund ... and it's time I started putting a little thought into such matters, so that I don't turn 50 and find myself thinking, "Why didn't I do something about this YEARS ago???"
Finally, I'm approaching a novel the right way: back to front. My first two ("Shogun in space" and "cozy murder mystery," respectively) were written by coming up with an opening premise and running with it, figuring out the end when I was about 2/3 of the way through; the third (the Lyonne/Maynard fantasy novel) was really just taking one of my old RPGs and combining a handful of the scenarios into a plot. That one at least had a fairly decent structure.
All of my hitherto-failed attempts to write novels with Michael have been me floundering around in the dark, hoping that if I wrote Michael's personality with enough conviction, a plot would just show up sooner or later. But I think that somewhere in my mind, I knew as I was writing them that it wasn't going to work, which is why they never really grabbed me while I was working on them. This time, the story really is there first, so instead of hunting around for it, I can concentrate on taking this foundation and building on it.
It's going to be an exciting year. :) But now, having worn myself out by clacking away on the keyboard at a pace I haven't seen in years, I need to hit the hay. G'nite everybody, and have a wonderful tomorrow!