On Writing Two Hundred Thousand Words

I hit a pretty significant writing milestone this past week. My work in progress novel crossed the two hundred thousand word threshold.

I knew when I started out that this book would be close to 200,000 words in length. My very first estimate for the book was about 175,000 but I quickly pivoted to an estimate of 225,000 words. Now I expect it to be a little longer, closer to 250,000. If that’s still accurate, then I should finish my rough draft late this year or early next year, given my current productivity.

I honestly thought I’d be more excited to cross this threshold in my writing journey. But instead I can’t help but reflect on how long the journey has taken.

You see, I started writing “Book of M” not terribly long after I started chronicling my writing journey with this very blog, way back in roughly February of 2011. Twelve long years of sporadic writing. Twelve years of struggling with a variety of factors that have stymied my free time to write. Twelve years of a, frankly, mediocre career mostly in corporate finance that sometimes sucked the will and energy to write out of me. Twelve years in which multiple chronic illnesses took their inevitable toll on my mind and body. But also, twelve years of fatherhood which, even now, I wouldn’t trade for a finished book. Twelve years of good and bad, growth and decline. Twelve years of a life lived the best I could, but not the life I always dreamed I’d be living.

That’s a long dang time to write a book. Long enough to put George R. R. Martin or Patrick Rothfuss to shame (though, to be fair, those guys are great when they do finish a book). And reality is, I’m still just at the beginning of this thing. A book well written and worth the time to read goes through no few drafts in number. This is just the first draft. How many revisions and edits save rewrites will it take to have a viable manuscript? That’s anybody’s guess.

I do still look forward to finishing this rough draft. And it is a rough one. I’m going to need a lot of revision, there’s no two ways about it. But passing the finish line will still be cause for celebration. I’ll have done the thing. The thing I’ve dreamed of doing since childhood: writing A book. Rough draft or not, that’s a significant accomplishment. Time will tell if I ever get it in good enough shape to get it published. I’ve got my doubts these days. But regardless, the book will be what it will be: my first full, epic fantasy novel. I can’t wait to write those two little words that tie it all together: The End.

Until then, well, there’s work to do. Here’s hoping I finish it sooner than later…


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