I still have 50 pages to go

I have finished the penultimate fresh section and went back to augment the introduction of Nicole Cobb with a 1,000-word character sketch a friend challenged me to do. It will remain in the Seven Ninety-Two short story collection, as the version in it has parts I excised due to the overlap with what happens with Lorenzo during this moment.

This goalpost move has made us reach 104,000 words and nearly 300 pages, if my formatting is the correct analogue to a standard hardcover. The original was 15,000 words.

But the next chapter is — I wouldn’t say filler, but tees up the next chapter. The one after that signals the end and will have the final expanded passage. After that is the final proper chapter. The second half of Chapter 24 becomes Chapter 25, and the original Chapter 25 becomes one of the “and the” sections that, along with a few newspaper articles, are outside the numbering system. Part of the reason these pseudochapters exist is because the original version of Brown River Blues had 25 parts and now I’m cheating. The other reason is that some of them include vital information that doesn’t quite fit in the chapters they’re between and are things I expect my editors will tell me to excise.

As you may recall, I’m writing more than what I think is necessary because I think it will be easier to cut things when I declare it finished than to have to add more when an editor gives me feedback.

It feels good to finally be in the home stretch. It’s been six years and more than the length of the original draft since I deemed this thing finished. It was back when the ending was different and was, in my opinion, pure garbage. The next chapter is the last bit of the original ending. It was Chapter 23, and it’s now Chapter 22.

It’s a little funny looking at the original now. I’ve also mentioned before that, despite being 15,000 words and throwing out at least the final two chapters, a lot of that original is in there. Original Chapter 22 is an article Lorenzo wrote. Twenty pages now separate the two. I wrote that article in August 2007 when a was a year into being a professional journalist. In my years of being an editor, I’ve rewritten and revised it as I’ve learned more and kicked it back to Lorenzo to fix. The current iteration still is a little painful to read, because I wanted to convey that he still was a novice writer, but the original reminds me of how much I needed to learn in 2007.

I still can’t believe I started this as a silly writing exercise in December 2006 that I expected would be over and done by January 2007. Instead I didn’t start writing in earnest until that June.

On Dec. 4, 2006, I said

From time to time, I get an idea for a short story or novel or something. Most of the time, they don’t pan out. …

A new one just popped in my head, and I think this one may go somewhere.

I was on LSW4 then. It was new. “Widescreen, 2 gig processor, 80 GB hard drive, 512 MB RAM,” I bragged.

I think my phone is more powerful than that.

I’m looking forward to getting through these 50-odd pages and writing the killer query letter that’s been in my head for a few years. And passing this out to my friends who have volunteered to do free peer edits.

After enduring the loss of a computer and a terrible case of writer’s block, we’re almost there.


I mean, still have to read it at least one last time since I’ve banged out like 20-page sections this go round and I think the Rosewood section fell flat, but Draft 14 shall be a mere formality and not a yearslong affair.  A dozen years is enough.

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