Done. Complete. Finished. Ended. Over.
In case you were wondering, principal writing on Homefront came to an end last night. As predicted, I was writing right up until the end of January, typing the last of the book’s 131,200 words in at 11:46 PM.
One hundred, thirty-one thousand two-hundred. It seems even more daunting when written out.
It’s been an incredible journey, and so far (he writes, in advance of editorial review) I think it’s some of my best work to date. I did a lot of research last year, including writing a science fiction novel that isn’t nearly as good as I thought it was. I’ve lost track of how many millions of words of fiction I read in preparation for writing this book, but they brought me to a good place. One from which I can objectively look at my own writing and say, “I’d buy that.”
That’s a good feeling. I hope you’ll agree with me, when you have your own copy in hand.
So, on to the pedestrian business of words and counts. Last week, I signed off with 43 chapters and 113,000 words written. I was convinced that I was three chapters away from finishing the book, a certainty that continued up until last night. It wasn’t that I wasn’t writing, it’s that I was, and as the narrative developed, tensions rose, and characters charactered, I realized how much more was necessary to close out this story.
I found myself going back in time a lot, adding more words to chapters where I felt things weren’t adequately explained, tightening focus on the action and each chapter’s narrator, and in general continually asking the question of, “what’s next?”
As I finished the 50th and final chapter of the book, the urge to keep going was incredible. There were so many more things to talk about, so much more I felt I could do with the characters. They were speaking to me right up until the end, and I had to force myself to write the last words, save the file, back it up, and back it up again.
And still, this morning when I got out of bed, only the fact that I’d completely shut down my computer the night before kept me from opening the file and tinkering just a little more.
In the words of a very wise man,
Just today, I compiled a huge amount of data on the manuscript itself. Word counts for individual chapters, an analysis of point-of-view characters, a basic map of the narrative structure. The book’s only been done for twelvish hours, and I’m already to defend it in front of a review board.
The book is going to change. It has to change. My editor/publisher, the readers, my inner tinkerer, everyone who sees this book will have some parts resonate with them, and some fall flat.
But that’s okay. That’s the process. I’m looking forward to shaping this book into something truly wonderful, and next week I’ll start in with some fresh, somewhat spoilery details of what the book looks like from the inside-out. The going theory is that we’ll have the book locked down by the end of April, after which I’ll go to monthly updates until we get closer to release, or some breaking news breaks.
Looking forward to this coming year. And to talking about my next project, which is completely secret even from me.