Finished! For fairly close values of “finished.” Plus, yes, puppies are distracting

You know about ABD meaning “all but dissertation,” right? Well, I hereby declare that ABE means “all but epilogue.”

There I was on Saturday, finishing the last chapter, by which I mean cutting the chapter in half (it was long anyway) and switching the back half into Rihasi’s point of view. So I finished that and IMMEDIATELY realized that this was not actually the last chapter, but the SECOND-to-last chapter.

So I stomped off in a huff and called Craig to complain about that, and also about the length, which is getting ridiculous at this point, by the way.

Then on Easter Sunday, I wrote the ACTUAL last chapter. Well, all but a smidge, which I will finish today.

Before I write the epilogue, I am going to start at the beginning and do the first cut, getting the length down to something sensible and also (much more important) getting a clearer view of the whole story. I’m not even sure whether every incident is going to stay in the novel. I may not decide that until I see what early readers think. I definitely can’t decide about that until I do a complete read-through from the top. Reading straight through should make it easier to write an effective epilogue. I’m therefore going to do that first. And probably the rest of the primary revision. I have 26 notes about things to revise. Some will be very fast and easy. Four or six will be much more difficult. The epilogue can come, rather suitably, last.

Questions you might not ask, but which I’m going to answer (QYMNA, which is at least as neat an abbreviation as FAQ):

A) How many secondary characters unexpectedly became important?

Two. And I did not see either one coming until there they were.

One is Prince Sekaran. I’ve known some important things about him for a long time, and I have ideas about what to do with him and his immediate family in later books. I did not expect him to show up in RIHASI until there he was, and I did not expect him to take an important role until he did. He is mostly out of sight, and showing the reader what he is doing while he’s out of sight is a trick, because Kior and Rihasi have to realize what he’s doing without mostly seeing super-overt evidence of it. Some of it gets revealed at the end.

The other is a mercenary who took a small role … and then a bigger role … and then suddenly became important enough that I had no choice but to weave him in and out of the back half of the novel. I mean, I could have cut his role way back instead, but he is interesting and fun, so I didn’t want to do that. Therefore, I let him become important.

There are also quite a few secondary characters who are sufficiently important that they are going to have to be mentioned in the epilogue so readers aren’t left hanging about what happened to them. Luckily, I know how to handle that for all of them. I’m pretty sure.

B) How much longer is the draft of RIHASI than you expected?

A little more than a third again as long.

C) How much longer was MARAG than you expected?

A little more than a third again as long.

D) And do you expect that from now on, you will be able to estimate final length a little more accurately?

Decades of experience suggests that I just will never be able to believe that everything will go more than a third again as long as I think it ought to, but I guess by this time the evidence has piled up so far that I might be able to force myself to overestimate enough to get in the actual ballpark.

E) Does length correlate with how long it takes to finish the draft?

Much, much less than you might expect. This is the first Tuyo-world novel where I have averaged 3000 words per day rather than 5000 words per day. This makes an immense difference, obviously. It also puts RIHASI squarely in the “average” category rather than the “fast” category.

I doubt I can make the optimistic May 2 deadline, unless secondary revision is really easy. June 2 seems highly probable.

Meanwhile! The puppies are now hinting at how cute they are going to be in a week or two.

I realize this picture is a little blurry. It’s not that the puppies aren’t trying to be steady; it’s that they wobble. A lot. Sleeping = not blurry. Creeping around and trying to say Hi to Auntie Naamah = blurry.

They are now staying awake for, oh, maybe a minute or so after nursing. Then they fall asleep, thump! Morgan says they might as well be five fat hot water bottles and she does not want to spend much time with them. Three of them are indeed fat, the B/Ts and the Blen. The two rubies are the smallest, but doing fine. They are actually a little more active, probably because they are not as fat. But they are all wobbling up to their feet, which sometimes takes extra time for a fat puppy.

Do you remember how small they were when they were born? Let’s compare:

The biggest was nine ounces at birth and is now 2 lbs and 2 ounces (from 250 g to 950 g). The smallest was six ounces at birth and is now a pound and a half (170 g to 680 g). I tube-fed the little ruby one more time after basically stopping, but I have now put that equipment away because (a) she’s doing great, and more important (b) she’s three weeks old and at this point, unless something dire weakened her significantly, I would use a syringe with a nipple attachment, not a tube.

The puppies do not need to nurse very much any more. That is, they are strong enough to get a lot of milk in a hurry, including Little Ruby. The difference is incredible. From Morgan needing to be with them practically nonstop for the first week, now Morgan spends almost no time with them at all.

I (or my mother, when I’m not at home) puts Morgan with them every two hours or so, she nurses them, and then she wants to get out again and she doesn’t want to go back to them for another two or three hours. This is fine. They don’t need her to be close; they are practically immune from chilling at this point, plus they have each other, plus I haven’t turned off the (special puppy-safe) heating pad because I’m keeping it quite cool at night for Morgan’s sake.

Three have had their eyes open for a full week, the other two for five days. They have exited the neonatal, also called the vegetative, stage. From here on, they will develop massively more quickly, developing all the normal puppy behaviors and rapidly entering the period which ought to be called Extreme Cuteness, but which is more properly thought of as the sensorimotor stage. They are already showing the earliest play behavior and tail wagging.

They are now, barring disaster, almost safe from basically everything that is a dire threat to newborns. For the next two weeks, as long as no serious mischance befalls them, they will be very easy to take care of. After that I’ll start early housetraining and that will be a nuisance, of course, but the Extreme Cuteness will compensate nicely.

I am also now thinking that this is why I gave the Ugaro the custom of saying, “She will thrive, unless some serious mischance comes to her” and things like that. I really can’t bring myself to say, “They’re safe now.” They’re safe unless some serious mischance comes to them. Knock on wood!

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1 thought on “Finished! For fairly close values of “finished.” Plus, yes, puppies are distracting”

  1. I am very excited to hear about Prince Sekaran becoming unexpectedly important! I enjoyed him a lot in Tasmakat.

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