Neil Gaiman on Writing Novels + The Name of My Book (For Now) + THE FIRST DRAFT IS DONE!

Writing a novel is marathon running. Writing a novel is that sort of weird process where it seems for a long time you’re not making any progress at all. It’s like trying to build a wall or dig a ditch across miles and miles, and you just do it, one word at a time. You’re going to have the good writing days, and you’re doing to have the bad writing days, and it’s going to take a year or two years, or more, to get to the end.

— Neil Gaiman, genius author of Fragile Things, American Gods, Coraline and many, many more

When I read these words by Neil Gaiman, I had that delicious shiver of recognition, because this is exactly what it feels like for me to write a freakin’ novel! He’s a much better writer than me, and if it’s like this for him, then it’s going to be 100x like this for me. I kept this in mind as I pegged away at my novel for many, many months this year, and thought of it again when


Yes, at 11:40pm Central time on 12/30/2010, just in the nick of time for 2010, I got to type “THE END” at long last. And then I typed “THE END, MOTHERFUCKERS!!!!!” but then erased it because, knowing me, I’d forget to take it out the “MOTHERFUCKERS!!!!!” part for some reason in the future. But yes, “THE END”!

(Some final stats for this draft: 102,570 words, 315 pages, Times New Roman, 12pt. font.)

I spent the last three days in a writing “vortex,” as Jo March used to call it. I didn’t really eat anything but soup and crackers and candy, I wore the same sweatshirt and sweatpants the entire time till even my parents said something about it, and I was crochety, grumpy and spacy beyond belief. I did take one walk and I did go to my nephew’s birthday party, although I had to renege on a promise to take him to see “Tron: Legacy” because I was exhausted. Oh, and I did build a snowman today in between Part II and Part III:

That was a nice break.

But mostly I just wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote till I was done. And tomorrow, to celebrate, I’m going to get one of those gloriously brutal neck-and-shoulder massages from the Chinese bodywork people at the mall.

Oh, and the title! Either my titles come right at the beginning, or right at the end. This one came at the end. It is called, as of now, THE WOODS. No, not after the Sleater-Kinney record, but after the most prominent setting in the book, the place where “all the magic happens,” as they say. Where girls run through the darkness, kisses taste like dirt and snow, and mutilated animals are found hanging in trees, dripping dark blood on the ground.

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