In sitting down to write the novel, I decided to make it easy on myself. I d ecided first that I wasn't going to try to write something near and dear to my heart, just a fun story. That way, if I screwed it up (which was a real p ossibility), it wasn't like I was screwing up the One Story That Mattered To Me. I decided also that the goal of writing the novel was the actual writin g of it -- not the selling of it, which is usually the goal of a novelist. I didn't want to worry about whether it was good enough to sell; I just wante d to have the experience of writing a story over the length of a novel, and see what I thought about it. Not every writer is a novelist; I wanted to see if I was. "I can plump out," she said. Tom, I was dumbfounded by what I was hearing. These creatures had traveled a cross the stars, over unimaginable distances. And if what I was hearing was correct, the success or failure of their trip was being placed into my hands . It was a burden that I didn't want or even frankly that I understood. I as ked Gwedif if what I was comprehending correctly what was being said. I stalled for time. "I don't know if you noticed this," I said, "But I'm not a Yherajk. I don't meld very well."