I don’t update a whole lot about my projects on here anymore — I can only say the same things about authorial strife and creative doubt so many times before even I get tired of listening to myself — but the current project hit a milestone.
I was typing merrily along today, the words flying from me like so much projectile vomit from my one-year-old’s mouth (okay, that’s a lie, the words have been tooth-yankingly recalcitrant lately, springing forth only when I literally shackle myself to the desk and allow myself to do nothing but write), when I happened to glance at the progress bar.
Glancing at the progress bar is something best done rarely if at all. When you’re penning a 90,000 word novel that seems to be fighting your will to birth it into the world (sort of like, I imagine, the way a honey badger might be born), checking your overall progress is a little bit like watching paint dry. That is, if you left the paint in the can and just waited the long winter for it to congeal into a paint brick. It ticks away, slowly, resolutely, like an inchworm shimmying its way down Route 66, but I’m lucky to get 2% in a day. Some days, it doesn’t move at all, even after an hour’s slavish work in the word mines.
Nonetheless, today I checked it, my eye flopping inartfully across it like a cat falling off the arm of the sofa as it stretches for the fading noonday sun.
And it was at 51%.
That’s shocking to me, because even though I know the time has been passing, and I’ve been dutifully plugging away on this project all the time, it just hasn’t had the same flow as my first project. If the first project was a traipse trough a neglected, overgrown garden — mostly clearing brambles and weeds but occasionally strolling through patches of still-blooming wildflowers — this project has been more like clear-cutting a path through the rainforest to make way for an interstate bypass. Using a hand axe. I feel every sluggish, seemingly ineffectual stroke of the axe-pen.
51% is a pretty good milestone. One worth bragging about, going into the weekend.
51% is like, I’ve rebuilt the shell of a classic Mustang in the garage, now all I have to do is put the engine back together, reassemble the transmission, rewire all of the electrics, replace the tires, and paint the thing.
51% is like, I’m making a pot luck dish for fifty of my co-workers and I’ve been to the grocery store, now all I have to do is prep the dish, cook it, portion it up neatly, wrap and seal it, and carry it in to work.
51% is like, I’ve cleaned one bathroom in the house, so I might as well clean the other bathroom, and the living room, and the kids’ bedrooms, and the garage, and maybe take down all the blinds that the cats tore up a year ago.
51% means the story is more written than not, and it would be a damn shame not to A) acknowledge that fact and B) really fling myself into the writing of it for this second half.
The pieces are all there. The characters are all there, and behaving as expected (or, if not as expected, at least teaching me how they would prefer to behave). The answers to the questions posed by the first half of the book are lurking in the mist like razor-sharp cliffs and rocks, shapes to be carefully navigated around as I search for the harbor.
Only 44,000 words to go.