So Freakin’ Close


Twenty-four pages left. 2 – 4. Mostly minor line edits with one or two holes to fill, and HEARTLAND will be wrapped. Man, talk about close.

I do love Maureen McHugh’s chart on Writing The Novel. So true. So very true. I’m discovering there’s a corollary that comes with the second draft.

1. The first third will lull you. Line edits will go pretty quickly, the story will hold together fairly well, and you’ll think, Yeah, okay, I can do this; this won’t be so bad. You’ll blow through a hundred pages in a day or so, and suddenly, this book will almost be DONE.

2. The middle third will remind you that of that aphorism that Gene Wolfe offered to Neil Gaiman: “Every book is your first book.” Your pace will be halved (if not cut to a quarter), and you’ll wonder what you were trying to do with introducing an entirely new character and plot arc at the 50,000 word mark. Is this really the time to work out that impulse to do an experimental tone poem or a Shakespearean pastiche? Really? Couldn’t you just have stuck to the formula and cranked this fucker out?

3. The last third will try to kill you. It tried once already on the first draft, and you cleverly got away from its tentacled grip by the cunning use of magic tricks. Little things like: “INSERT PARAGRAPH HERE THAT SUMS UP THE THEMATIC THRUST OF THE BOOK,” and “TIE UP LOOSE ENDS HERE,” and even “FUCK, I DON’T KNOW. AND THEN MAGIC HAPPENS, AND EVERYONE GOES OFF TO HAVE SEX.” But now? You have to fill those holes.

I swear it feels like I am writing at a serious, serious clip here, but at the end of the evening, I’ve only vetted four pages of the manuscript. But I think the whole thing will stand on its own now. Almost.