It turns out that Eastery things happen during the Easter weekend, thus interrupting my obsessive focus on finishing the HOUSE OF SHADOWS sequel. But I will finish it tonight! I’m almost 100% positive it will only take another five to ten pages, and I say that accounting for the unbreakable rule that Everything Takes Longer.
I have been waiting to write this scene for the whole time. I mean, THIS is the scene that I had in my head from the beginning — the scene that made me want to write the book in the first place. I would like one more uninterrupted day to enjoy writing it, but FINE. I didn’t even call in sick this morning, and believe me I was tempted.
So, you know, one question I do get asked from time to time is “How long does it take you to write a book?” The answer is, of course, “It depends.” But I have a clear record of my progress for this particular book and it is interesting, because the answer is:
A) Four years, or
B) Twelve weeks.
It depends on how you look at it, right? I was surprised to find, when I looked, that I actually started this book back in 2012. That is the same year that HOUSE OF SHADOWS was actually published, which means a year or more after it was written. I wrote 18,000 words (about 54 pp) in May and June of that year — in 18 days total. That would have been starting in spring break and continuing a bit into the summer semester. I’m very likely to work on something during actual breaks and also during the summer, so the timing makes perfect sense.
Then in 2013, I wrote 44,000 words (about 132 pp), starting on January 1st (which means during Christmas Break) and then again starting in November and going straight to Christmas Eve. I worked on this book for a total of about 4 weeks that year, obviously at widely separated times.
In 2014, I once again hit this project starting on January 1st and going till the semester started — so that was really all part of the same effort, the 2013-2014 Christmas Break. I wrote 23,000 words in the first 11 days of 2014, bringing the total to 85,000 words or 287 pp. Then I set it aside for the rest of the year, unsurprisingly, since I was very involved with other projects all during 2014. Still, I felt that I was *almost* finished with this book and that I had a good idea of what to do with it. It was in the back of my mind all year.
So, this year, when I realized I did have time to work on it, I thought great, I could finish it over the nine days of spring break.
Well, THAT was overoptimistic. Remember the *unbreakable* rule that Everything Takes Longer? It was at least as true as usual. Nevertheless, since March 3rd, I have written 57,000 words (about 172 pp). First I re-read most of HOUSE OF SHADOWS (this was prior to March 3rd). Then I rearranged the chapters I already had, wrote two chapters, rearranged everything again, rinse & repeat. The total as of this morning is a bit over 140,000 words, or actually 437 pp. I am pretty sure that the whole thing will come in very close to 145,000 words, 445 pp. I know almost every word of this little bit remaining; as I say, this scene has been in my head from the start; so honestly I think I’m going to be very close in my estimates. Tonight should tell the tale.
Anyway, if you add the whole thing up, then I wrote the book in about 12 weeks.
Next question: is this about typical for how long it takes me to write a book?
Yes, it is. This comes out as approximately 1600 words per day, or very nearly 5 pp per day. These are very typical numbers for when I am working seriously on a book but don’t have a Looming Deadline, which is, of course, exactly the situation here.
Next question: am I done-done?
No. I have some trivial but annoying things to fix, like I finally realized that the solstice is in JUNE and therefore I need to shift the whole story out of early spring into early summer. AARGH. This will be SO ANNOYING. Also, I am certain I will need to cut some of chapter 18. I don’t like chapter 18. It was a pain. I need to cut some of the beginning and very likely switch the second half to someone else’s point of view.
I have 20 notes to myself about stuff to check on and fix, some very minor and some quite important. This is also extremely typical.
But after typing THE END, I will set it aside for at least a week or two. I will read other peoples’ books for a week, tweak MOUNTAIN, send MOUNTAIN to Navah at Saga, read other peoples’ books for a week or so, and then come back and revise the HOUSE OF SHADOWS sequel and send it to Caitlin.
At the moment, incidentally, the working title is not “THE HOUSE OF SHADOWS SEQUEL.” It is THE DOOR OF STEPPING INTO AIR. I like this title, but I don’t think it actually works very well. It is not parallel in form to the title of the first book. I will probably wind up with some version of DOOR OF ______ or THE DOOR OF ______, but I don’t know.
So, tonight: Finish this book, whatever its title.
UPDATE: I did finish it. This draft came out at 144,000 words and 148 pp, so my estimates were very close.
Tomorrow: Take a stab at actually releasing the Black Dog short story collection, imaginatively titled BLACK DOG SHORT STORIES, btw. I swear I will do that tomorrow without fail. I think it’s supposed to take a bit for a book to appear? I will let you all know when it is actually available, of course.
Wednesday: Start the blasted eggplants and peppers before it’s REALLY MASSIVELY TOO LATE rather than just late. It’s ridiculous. March totally got away from me. I don’t want to be stuck with only ordinary black eggplants and whatever peppers are in the store. I want slender Japanese eggplants and Thai bird chilies. I may go on and start the petunias and stuff, too, which normally I don’t like to do too early because they grow faster than you’d think. But shoot, I don’t think it IS early for them anymore. I also need to direct-sow peas and parsnips if that’s going to get done.
Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday: I’m taking a break. Really. Except for early spring weeding. That’s going to take over my life for a bit. I’ll have to pick an audiobook for that. Choices, choices.