Sunday, July 29, 2018

Off Hiatus

Hey all! I know it's been a long time since you heard any crickets chirp around here. I found a layer of dust on the dashboard when I came to do this post. Before I go any farther, yes, Front Stroke will continue. I've been playing around with a new video software that will enable me to make better stuff.

Rejoice. The hiatus is now officially over! My family is settled in our new Arkansas home, and it's not just the move that's occupied my attention!

It took me eleven months and nine days; from August 6, 2017 to July 15, 2018, but the new novel is finally done! With very few exceptions, this book was typed on my Olympia SG1. It weighs in at 368 pages (1.5 line space) and 136,000 words. I've sent the platen off for a well-deserved recovery.

This book was by far the most difficult project I've yet undertaken, not just because of the scope and scale, but life was really hard through most of the process. Between changing jobs, packing up to move, going through the move itself, and getting familiar with this new place, it wasn't always easy (or possible) to make my daily goals. Towards the end I suffered the same fatigue every writer suffers if they do long-form. At times I loved what I had made, other times I hated it. But the work kept me going on days when I thought I was going to lose my mind, when I thought I was living a life defined only by miserable stress. I can only imagine how much worse that stress would have been if I was writing something I didn't really care about, if I was chasing a market because of someone else's definition of good literature.

I also learned something about the tools we use. Ultimately, it doesn't matter what you work with as long as you're willing to devote the time and effort to finish the job. There were times when my progress was slow and I thought I might never get the book done, and in such times I considered the following examples of others who had come before me:

Richard Adams: wrote Watership Down by hand, 137,000 words, in 18 months.

Herman Melville: wrote Moby Dick by hand, 200,000 words, in 18 months.

Norman Mailer: wrote The Naked and the Dead on a typewriter, 220,000 words, at a rate of twenty-five pages a week (couldn't find reliable information on time of draft completion).

Brian Jacques: wrote Redwall by hand, 100,000 words, in seven months.

J.R.R. Tolkien: wrote The Lord of the Rings on a typewriter, over 500,000 words, in 12 years (albeit, this was mostly do to his choice to balance his university career and the methods he employed when developing the story, having never intended to write a sequel to The Hobbit).

So yeah, while there were times I wished I could write as fast as Stephen King (who can crank them out in three months), in the end it takes as long as it takes. Some are fast, some are slow. Nobody cares about the information above because the finished works have changed countless lives. One of the most difficult lessons I've had to learn is that time shouldn't be too great of a concern. I'm not even ready to start editing the draft, but for now, the fact that I persevered and managed to get it done despite increasing pressure is consolation enough.

I certainly had more fun working on this book than any other in recent times. Maybe it'll be the one, maybe not. Meanwhile, I've decided to reward myself with a little treat, one that will hopefully prevent future supply problems.

Behold, the Donut!

$60 for 660 yards of ribbon from Baco Ribbon Supply. I don't think I'll have to buy any more for a long long time.

Power to perseverance, no matter what your end-goal!


  1. Congrats! Looking forward to more blog articles too.

    1. Very well said and congrats on finishing that puppy. It isn't the time, it's the content and the journey getting to the end. It takes me about 3.7 months (average)per book, but I go hell bent for leather--a white hot frenzy, and that means I really have to believe I've got something special. You just might have that. Now you can formulate the query and synop in your head over time. You can vacation away from the book and then revisit it for the editing passes. No one has a gun to your head.

    2. Thanks, Chris! I might start editing this winter, since I don't have any major new projects staring me down. Hopefully I've forgotten most of it and can look with fresh eyes. Nobody has a gun to my head, but there are times when I wish there was some kind of demand. Oh well. I'll just have to create it, I guess. Maybe I'll come up with a topic for another blog post while I'm at it. Goodness knows this poor thing has been neglected...