This is what happens to writers like me who kill their interest in stories if they plot first. I have to feel my way into a story, and then once I get a feel for it, I can rough out the story elements. I can't do it the other way around. For me, short stories are easy. The story arc is easily conceived, and I can spend a fair amount of time on word choice and sharpening the main conflict. Novels give me so much more room to run around that I feel like I have too many choices. Without exploring my characters first, and listening to them as they take shape on the page, I don't know what story they want to tell.
I started this story once before, but needed to take a different approach. As with all of my writing, I walk a fine line between detachment for the fiction element and the introspection necessary to draw from the element of truth. My previous attempt was lacking a strong enough voice in the lead character. She was too soft. As a reader, I lose interest in soft characters. As a writer, I can't get anything out of them.
I feel like I'm getting back on a bicycle after not having ridden in far too long. Today, I remembered how to work the pedals and get moving. I'm enjoying the ride and taking in the scenery. Pretty soon, though, I'll have to figure out how to steer.