Friday night I hit 50,000 words in the novel.
I started writing the book in early August. When I realized I was actually going to try to write a full-length novel, I set a goal for myself of 100,000 words (or about 350 pages, double spaced) to be completed on May 1st. I gave myself nine months. Creating this book will be like giving birth, I thought to myself then (and still do now, the labor pains will be coming in the next month or so, and I look forward to them with a mixture of exhilaration and terror); I need to give myself ample time to make it come alive.
And so it has. The characters have started breathing and thinking and speaking of their own accord, and I'm just following them around trying to take down as much as I can before it's forgotten. They're moving around and doing their own things, and I'm just observing. It's great. And insane. But all writers are at least a little crazy, right? It's par for the course.
I held back from trying to write a book for a long time. I've never been good at follow-through, even from the time I was a child, and I didn't want to build up excitement and expectations for myself and then let myself down. Short stories were a medium I could get into because they required only a few days' commitment - then the story was done and editing could ensue. Quick like a flurry of punches or stolen kisses. I knew my propensity for starting things and never finishing them, and I didn't want that to jinx a long project.
But no long project is completed if it's not started, and back in August when I finally realized the short story I'd been writing deserved to be its own novel, I knew I had to try. Now or never, my Mamaw would've said, time's a-wastin. And that was the truth. I realized it was time to make it happen. So I started, and gave myself a goal, and kept pushing against the invisible wall that stands between reality and fiction.
Now I'm at 50,587 words and the story is developing at a much faster pace than it has been over the last six months; it's like the book has hit its stride and is ready to whisk me along to its conclusion, for better or worse. I know I'll finish, or at least get to my goal by May; right now I'm just grinning like a fool and hanging on for the ride.