The Numbers in Novel Writing

Last night, I sat down in front of my computer and stared at the page number of my new book (I love saying “my new book”. I would say that’s my favorite aspect of having finished the first book, this ability to talk like this is “just something I do now.” That and say more things “in quotations.”)

I sat and stared for about five minutes. I’ve hit 170 pages. I’m in the dread middle now, yes sir. I’m Michael Corleone in Italy and I’ve got to figure out a way back to New York. I wish it was as exciting as that. What it’s really about is procrastination. The end is nowhere in sight, not for a while. With no deadline, with no one waiting to read it, typing The End is sometimes all I have to go on. And it’s just too damned far away to be an incentive.

Finally, I grabbed a post-it and a pen and wrote down a bunch of numbers, a few rough calculations. If I write three pages a day, three nights a week (which is what I’ve been doing), I will finish the book in six months. S.I.X. Months. Now faced with that number, I immediately turn to my calendar. I look for days, for time. If I do eighteen pages a week instead of a paltry, pathetic, INEXCUSABLE nine, I can finish The Witches Sib in three months. February. The light will show up in the middle of winter. I can do that, I think. I have to do that.

I stuck the post-it up on the screen, a jumble of numbers and 6 mos in the corner. The number is too big, far too big. But it just might be the right size, the one I need to get me home.

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