I am over 15,000 words into the rough draft of a novel, and I have a major problem. I doubt my protagonist is interesting. His personality reads flat so far. He is neither colorful nor irresistible. He avoids confrontation. And here is the deeper problem:

The protagonist is me. Not literally me, because he and the story are fiction. Allegorically though? Thematically? He is me. Why pretend otherwise? Pretty much all my creative writing starts in an autobiographical place. So if the protagonist on the page is a snooze, then maybe the guy typing on the laptop is also.

And “Ug” came to pass.

Why persist in writing a novel with a character so dull on the surface? Because, back in July I found inspiration.

The following virtual choir performance moved me more than perhaps any new content I’ve seen or heard during the pandemic. You only need to watch the first 3 minutes of the video. Everything after that is closing credits for the 17,000-plus singers who joined in:

I fell instantly and completely in love with this video and the song. It channeled my current sorrows and hopes. It made me nostalgic for my college choir days at Weber State University. The other big thing it did was fill my head with visions of my novel’s protagonist. Not literal visions of course. Creative ones.

As I listen to “Sing Gently” over and over, I can see my protagonist weathering the climactic moments of his life. Best of all, I find myself caring about him and wanting to go on our adventure together. The writing process remains nerve-wracking and grueling, but worthwhile and fulfilling. The things, and the people, who can get us through this winter are out there.

So I’m thankful for Eric Whitacre and the global, cooperative choir piece he engineered. For you good readers, if you haven’t already enjoyed “Sing Gently,” I hope you’ll give it a viewing and I hope it sooths you. This novel I’m working on may never see the light of day. I may seal it up tighter than that one section of the golden plates (which of course figure into my novel.) But “Sing Gently” and other pieces like it are out there, proof that we can connect, cooperate, and sustain each other.


What music or other art have you found or rediscovered during the pandemic? How is it helping you?

What types of leisure activities are you considering to help you weather the winter?


If you’ve ready me regularly on Wheat & Tares, you’ve met my protagonist. His name is Fellow, with a capital F. You can meet him or revisit him via the following pieces:

I am writing my novel as part of National Novel Writing Month. Participants of NaNoWriMo commit to writing 50,000 words of an original novel during the month of November. That’s 1,667 words a day for 30 days. If I meet that goal, it will be the second time I’ve completed NaNoWriMo.