The Last 10,000

The novel is down to the last ten thousand words.

It’s a bizarre feeling. If my first novel was written in a flurry of inspiration, stolen minutes and creeping inevitability, this novel has been written via a series of well-placed skull strikes against the keyboard. Or maybe not so well-placed. The narrative of this one hasn’t flowed as well as the first. The path was never so clear. The words more reluctant. The voice, nonexistent.

Still, I’m almost there, and the proverbial light is shining at the proverbial end of the proverbial tunnel. It ain’t far off now, which means I’m too close to even think about packing it all in. I should be done within the month, which is startlingly enough true to the (unofficial) deadline I set for myself back in … whenever the fargo I began writing it. It seems so long ago now as to be hardly worth pondering, but I want to say it was maybe February? March?

It’s taken longer than the first novel, pushing out this newest squalling bundle of joy, but that’s because I realized that the breakneck pace I set back then (1200 words a day was my goal) was a bit too much for other areas of my life to bear. I backed the daily requirement back to 600 (though I really do aim for 900 most days), which has of course made the project stretch out, but has also given me more time to assess as I go.

And I’m not sure if that’s been a good thing or not. With the first novel I plowed ahead full force, writing the story as it occurred to me, hardly pausing for breath or to check my bearings at all as I scrambled for the finish. With this project, I’m constantly evaluating how things are going, second-guessing my decisions, agonizing over each new turn. As a result, the thing has been reshaped so many times along the way it’s as if I started off building a replica of the Iron Throne and ended up with a misshapen ashtray made from discarded banana peels. And then sat on it. Eww slimy.

It’s gonna require major rewrites. Months of work. And I can’t help wondering if by taking my time a little bit more I hamstrung myself by allowing things to settle. If instead of spinning the whole tale out like a blown glass bottle, the thing is hardening and solidifying fit to break when I start to apply pressure to it.

But those are concerns for future me.

Now that I can see the end, I can feel that restless energy seeping in, that urge to push for the finish.

For the moment, it’s time to focus on those last 10,000 words, and the feeling over the last few days is that they’re going to go fast. I can feel the frenetic pacing from my first novel creeping in. I can feel myself reaching for Chekhov’s Guns that weren’t written yet, weapons that materialize under my fingers as the story demands them. The time will come when I can go back and invent the methods of their inception. Right now, the story is full steam ahead, and if a character needs a robotic limb in order to break out of their holographic jail cell, then by god, that character has what she needs. The details will come later, for now it’s time to find an ending for this thing, even if that means steering its smoldering wreckage into the side of a mountain.


Deep breath.

Head down.

Time to write.