It’s done. Not the longest novel in the world at 66K words. But long enough to do what it needs to do.
I don’t know what I should feel – astonished, relieved, exhilarated. Nothing yet, though. No tiny epiphany never mind a great big one. Maybe that’s the way it should be. Maybe it’s the sense that finishing shit is natural, not exceptional.
I’ll be publishing it within a week. Oh I know, blah blah putter putter pause pause comma in comma out. Nope. It’s done. It is what it is, a pretty good piece of commercial fiction with some interesting ideas. I will not ruin this day by thinking about sales, or selling, or all that.
Just the last reflection in the “final” scene and then a coda/epilogue. Then it’s finished.
So yeah, the finish line is definitely literally days away now, like by Wednesday the 12th at the latest. Then a cooling off of a week or so, before re-editing the last half. And publishing before the end of the month. It’s going to feel really good to FINISH. To be able to move on to new ideas without the monolith of a long-unfinished novel in the way. Que sera sera when it’s published, my sales expectations are literally set near zero, given what happened last fall to “Lion” and “Dark” with no salesmanship. Fine! I just need to move on.
Yep, still plugging away. Literally days away from a finished first draft. And thus weeks away from a final product. I know that sounds hasty, but this ain’t luminous prose. It is most definitely not “all about the sentences.” And after five years and countless edits and rewrites, it’s not like I’m pubbing a first draft without any reconsideration. I’ve considered the crap out of this by now. It’s time to send Alex and Caroline out into the world and see what happens.
It’s shaping up to be a short novel, around 65K words. I’m going to price it at $2.99 because experience tells me that e-readers often complain about the price of words by weight. Also, you’re more likely to get people to buy at that impulse price, which can boost your sales considerably. And man will I ever need boosts given my nonexistent promotional program.
Now I’m more like 6-7K away from the end. The first half of the book has been edited so many times, I’m good to go there, right through the Interlude. Then I have to true up the arguments between Nick and Caroline about whether Alex should live or die and how, and I’m good there. I’m working up the romance angle, which I was opposed to initially, but I’ve realized it’s sales suicide not to make that happen, and why cut my nose off to spite my face? It’ll be hard enough to sell without making it unsaleable.
So at the very latest, I’m looking at a publication date of July 1. Here’s the draft cover I ran up:
The book is under steam; the structure of the end is plotted out if not the exact details and I’m within 10k words of finishing. I am trying hard not to think about what happens after that – that is, watching it sink like a stone without any pom pom shaking. I might send a copy to Cory Doctorow/BoingBoing and see if that goes anywhere; really can’t think what else to do with it.
The important thing now is to FINISH it. To be able to move on to other potentially more lucrative projects. I am still questing for something that doesn’t need me to hype the fuck out of it to sell more than ten copies. I love “Boardwalk Empire,” and there’s a great scene with Agent Van Alden. (Spoiler if you’re not caught up.) He’s on the run, and takes a job as an iron salesman, door to door. Oh my does he suck at it. Then his wife starts making aquavit (this is during Prohibition) and he takes a sample case full to a Norwegian (what used to be) saloon…and the proprietor says, I’ll take it all. Stunned, he stands outside with his wife and watches a parade and say, “Unlike irons, this stuff sells itself.” Is there any artistic product that will do the same? I tried a Kickstarter for this book a while back, and once I was done setting it up, the last page said something to the effect of, “now go tell your vast social network about your project!” Silly rabbit, if I had a vast social network I wouldn’t need a kickstart.
Back from New York, semi-ecstatic. Crappy weather was no obstacle to a good time, and I’ve got my formula down now – tourist early, native later. Get to the museums before the mob strikes, and then do a café and/or an art house movie later, then take the E to the backside of Times Square, so you get off on 8th Avenue and only deal with a half block or so of madness to get to a theater. Saw a few things, most memorably “Matilda” and the hilarious “Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike.”
The good folks at Strand Books recommended Think Coffee as a place to sit and read and write, and since school is out for the summer, it was full but not jammed and I got a table two afternoons in a row. Not sure if it’s the inspiration of art and theater that gets me going, or just the sea level oxygen, but I…wait for it…solved the ending of “Less Than.”
Actually, it’s funny. On the plane I thought up an idea for an End Of The World novel – one where the secular humanists and not the religious prepper kooks have the edge. And I blocked out a lot of ideas for that at Think. Then I had ten minutes before I had to leave for a matinee and said, well, let’s see what we can do with Less Than…and pow, there it was. So as not to ruin it, I’ll just say that just like that, I figured out a way to “save” Alex without some stupid fakey made-up “hackers break in and triumph over corporate baddies” ending. Well, maybe it was percolating in my subconscious all along. I just needed to get the fuck out of my routine to get my brain to see it.
Now I’m plowing through the first half one more time, one more edit. But unlike other times where I froze up or ran out of gas when I got to the later parts, I’m good to go this time. The other times I didn’t know where I was going, or I thought I did and it didn’t work out. Now I’ve got it. The goal is still to finish by July 4th weekend – as in DONE, finished, edited and published. Even if it sells zero copies, it’s important to finish it before I move on to another big project. The stench of failure in my nostrils would drag down my confidence, even in a far more commercial, and potentially more self-selling, genre.
I’d say more about the EOTW book, but it’s funny. People used to say, oh I can’t discuss my idea because someone will steal it. And then people said, no, it’s all about the execution, nobody can steal that. But now, if you share the general concept, there ARE people out there, word farmers, who will run up some piece of shit at lightning speed based on someone else’s idea and there you are left holding a bag of “me too.” True, mostly they copy things that are already successful. But this is a “high concept” story, admittedly not as complex as Alex’s, and thus eminently stealable. And at any rate, I’ve got to finish Alex before I even think about that more.