I’d make some childish joke about that date number, but I’m not in the best place mentally to do that. I had a wonderful day yesterday, spent a long evening with my mum and step dad and made the most of their company, ate great food, watched Hamilton (again) and couldn’t have asked for a better experience. I got a full night’s sleep, ish, and today I kicked back, ate what I wanted, played Arena, almost played Stardew, and, well I feel like a mess. It’s not that I feel like a mess because I left writing until late, or even because I spent the morning working. It’s because I was dreading writing, and when I at last got out the 1,083 words that made up target today, I can’t say I felt much better.
WAN is now 84,987 words long. If i were to switch back now, and write enough words to make this a 1,100 word day, which with any other book I would, then we’d hit 85K. 85K is the centre of my ‘sweet spot’ for novel lengths. My projects seem to always finish in the 92-100K range, so that means cutting back about 7-15K words. That’s about right for trimming the chaff that tends to accumulate on these kind of projects. As such, hitting that mark means everything from now is buffer, meaning I won’t have to extend the story after I get to cutting. Apologies if I have explained that badly; the quality of my prose tonight was not much better than this. I don’t feel elated at that milestone. I pretty much feel dead inside.
That’s one of the more dark things I’ve said on this blog, but I think as much as I try to maintain a professional image here – with my eccentricities on display but in a way that is more tasteful than gratuitous – there’s no point lying here: this book almost killed me. I debated using the word ‘broke’ there; less hyperbolic sounding and a lot less shocking. It’d have been a lie if I toned it down. This is the most raw story I have or likely will ever write. I’d hoped knowing story tropes and conventions better now, I’d be able to distance myself more from the made-up story, but, well I can’t. This book literally keeps me awake at night I am so ashamed of it. And as you can imagine, I am also ashamed of how I’m letting a story get to me like this.
Part of me wishes I could delete the book. Of course I can do that. I wouldn’t even be sad to see 66 days of work disappear. There’s just one problem: the story of WAN is central to the story of the series. It’s not just the cannon events that take place; the novels tell a story about the forces that drive our lives, and though the Wanderer is an extreme example, it is a stand in for the irrational cruelty we all exhibit once in a while. The story is about what it’s like when those impulses consume your life, especially when you play host to them rather than seeking help. Rosie literally tries to deal with the horror on her own rather than seeking help, in the same way I did with my demons. And, as much as I hate to admit it, I think it might be the best story I’ve ever written.
When this project is over, 1K will turn 700 days old. That’s 100 weeks of this, in which I wrote the equivalent of seven novels, given I typed up VOL and WAN as pretty much new stories. WAN might be a book that I loathe, but I’m going to finish it within 70 days. That means in 700 days time, I should have another 9-10 novels to my name, at least. It would likely be 9 as I am handwriting the first draft of The Way Out, but that would see the whole series complete, and a few new stories. Those new stories, those 9-10 books, that’s what I have to focus on now. I’ve learned a lot writing WAN. And soon, I can put it in a drawer, and at least for a year, forget about it. That, I cannot wait for.