the magical amazing ever-expanding book

Part III is done. Which is something of a miracle, since it’s about 5K longer than my original estimation for the length of each of these sections.

Word count: 72010
LBR tally: Lately, rhetoric is winning.
Authorial sadism: I’ve slacked off on that for a few scenes, actually. They need some breathing room before the things I’ve got in store.


So here’s how me and deadlines work.

The book is officially due October first. I got started June first. At one thousand words a day — my standard pace — I can therefore write 122K by my deadline. I was aiming for a 110K book, so that gives me breathing room, as does the fact that I tend to accumulate overage; 1K/day is a minimum, not an average.

But I knew going in that this summer would involve more non-working days than usual, thanks to everything else in my life. So that margin of safety shrinks. Then I realize the book needs to be longer. How much longer? Don’t really know. I’d be surprised if it goes past 130K, but 120K is pretty much a given at this point. Suddenly, that margin of safety? Not so much with the existing.

Ten days before the end of July, I realize I’m about six days ahead of the base schedule. I decide to see if I can’t up that to ten by the end of the month — that is, to close out July with 71K instead of 61K. (Consequence: I work through Conestoga, tapping away on my laptop in my hotel room at night.) And then I decide on this trip to Dallas, and figure that we can do a bit better with that goal; I’ll finish Part III by the end of the month.

And so I have done. In the last three days, I’ve written over six thousand words. But this afternoon’s scene was only 402 words, so we’ll probably sit down and poke at the beginning of Part IV later tonight.

In a truly delusional world, I would try to do Part IV and then the bits covering the Fire by the end of this month. But that’s going to be another 40-50K words, and the middle of August will be shot all to hell, so I won’t lock myself into it.

(I won’t lock myself into it. But anybody who knows my working habits know that the minute I think of something like that, my subconscious decides I’m going to try for it anyway.)

This is how I do it. Not with carrots dangling in front of me, but a stick behind. I drive myself hard early on because that’s better, in my mind, then driving myself at the end; I’d rather push through and have breathing space than find myself in a crunch right before deadline. Who knows what else might crop up to delay me? Who knows how many additional words this book will need in order to be fully itself? If it caps out at 140K, I need to know I’ll have enough time for those extra words.

Yes, it is crazy-making. But now doesn’t seem like the time to fiddle with my habits. So Part III is done, and we’ll write more tonight — just to be safe.

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