ITSW, WIP, writing

This is the WIP That Never Ends

It keeps on going on, my friend.

One person started writing it not knowing when she’d stop.

And she will keep on writing it forever just because –

At least, that’s what it feels like! I had a December deadline to reach 100k words, thinking that would be close enough to finished. That passed by due to holidays and sickness and a death in the family. Then I thought, oh I can get 100k by the end of January – but 100k didn’t look like where my end would be anymore. Maybe closer to 120k.

But I could get 120k by mid-February!

…except now the end looks closer to 130k, maybe even 140k to be perfectly honest (which I am frequently not with myself). I can do that by March! So somehow, 100k in December is now 135k (split the diff) in March. This is why I am not an event planner, everyone.

It’s getting to feel like Zeno’s paradox up in here – but thankfully there are not an infinite number of words in this WIP, no matter how much it feels like that. Plus, I know I’m getting very close to the end now because I am starting to dislike this WIP, starting to wonder why I would chose such a path, why I’m even bothering to write when no one will read it – and those thoughts only come when I’m almost there. It’s like the last half mile of a 5k, when you’ve put all your effort in and you’ve come a long way but everything hurts and damn if half a mile isn’t still a long way and wouldn’t it be nice to stop running and have a cup of tea under that tree over there?

Only that’s the time to ignore that tree and the pain and what’s left of the race and just focus on putting one foot in front of the other until you can see the finish line and hear the cheering and you realize you’ve got a little left in the proverbial tank.

Neil Gaiman wrote a bit a while back that really struck me – and stuck with me. I come back to this little revelation every time I get to this point in a story – be it draft zero, the first draft, the first rewrite, or the 100th rewrite:

The last novel I wrote (it was ANANSI BOYS, in case you were wondering) when I got three-quarters of the way through I called my agent. I told her how stupid I felt writing something no-one would ever want to read, how thin the characters were, how pointless the plot. I strongly suggested that I was ready to abandon this book and write something else instead, or perhaps I could abandon the book and take up a new life as a landscape gardener, bank-robber, short-order cook or marine biologist. And instead of sympathising or agreeing with me, or blasting me forward with a wave of enthusiasm—or even arguing with me—she simply said, suspiciously cheerfully, “Oh, you’re at that part of the book, are you?”

I was shocked. “You mean I’ve done this before?”

“You don’t remember?”

“Not really.”

“Oh yes,” she said. “You do this every time you write a novel. But so do all my other clients.”

So here’s to a mid-February or March 1st deadline, be it 120k words or 140k. It will get done. I am almost there. One foot in front of the other. One word after the next.

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