Seven hundred days of 1K. By the time I hit the 200 mark I knew that this was pretty much going to be about for good, but there’s still something a little surreal about hitting new benchmarks. When I hit 200 I finished handwriting VOL, and at the time that marked the first new novel I’d written in two years. Even then the previous book was an extension of a novella, and that was the first time a book broke 70K in five years. Now 500 days later, I have six novels – not including that ancient first one – and that’s six typed novels. But that’s not why today feels significant. This isn’t about the first 200 days of 1K; it’s about the 200 we just came to the end of.
When I hit day 500 of 1K that was a big deal for me, as it coincided with the start of my latest attempt to reinvent myself. I knew about Covid-19, and I had my inklings where the wind was blowing and how to stay upwind of it, so our family was already making plans at even that early phase, but I never imagined what the 200 days between that day and today would do to me. By and large, I think it made me better, if only by tearing me down and forcing a total rewrite of how I lived my life, and what I considered a priority. I learned a lot about myself, and not all of it was good. I also learned that even if the world was on fire outside my window I would still write my thousand words.
A couple of days ago, I returned to working in my office for the first time since the UK went into lockdown. I had of course decamped home a little early of that fateful day, plans laid and ok’d to ensure it wasn’t a hurried exit. I still managed to panic and leave my aloe vera plant to die in the office, but other than that sad outcome and all the desks being moved about, when I came back in on Monday it was one of the greatest reliefs of my life. I knew I hated working from home, but I didn’t realise just how much until I had the alternative back. It was like that feeling after a period of illness where all your senses work again at last and you thank whatever higher power exists for each and every one of them. It’s not ‘normal’ – and I don’t think that version of normal is ever coming back – but it’s both peace, and closure.
I wrote two novels in lockdown. One is decent but needs some work. One is great but so horrifying I doubt it’ll ever see the light of day. Neither are my focus. When I hit 200 days, the elation I felt for finishing that novel sent my soul soaring. Now, I finish a novel, and just move onto the next one. They’re still achievements, and I am still proud of the hard work, but the greatest achievement is that whether I write a story that puts me on cloud nine or brings me to my breaking point, the day after I finish, it’s on to the next one. My stories are inevitable, and more than any x number of words benchmark, that’s what I’m proudest of. Here’s to many hundreds more.