There are time, I think it’s safe to say, when I wonder if I’m mad as hell. Not Howard Beale “Mad as hell”, but mad as in Mad Hatter sorta mad. And why is that, you are probably asking yourself–if, indeed, you are bothering to ask yourself that question after reading the previous sentence. It’s because I am a little crazy. It’s because I’ve got a world inside my head, and I’m wondering if I’ll ever get it all out.
And if I should, how much of my life is gonna get spent doing so?
It started like this: I was speaking with someone yesterday about our respective works in progress. They mentioned that on their current work–which is really a long series broken into three parts–they’ve written one hundred and twenty thousand words in two and a half years. That’s a good amount, particularly, as they said, they don’t get the opportunity to write every day.
I then mentioned that with my current novel I’ve written just short of one hundred and forty thousand words in four months, and when looking at the rest of the novel, I believe I have about one hundred and twenty-five thousand words to do for Act Two, and maybe one hundred and ten to one hundred and twenty thousand words for Act Three. I also mentioned that I was getting into A Song of Ice and Fire series territory in terms of how many characters I’ve had with a point of view and/or a speaking part. All in all, when you read that, it does come off a just a little batty to say, “Within the next year I expect to finish a novel that’s going to run about three hundred and seventy-five thousand words. ’Tis but a meager tale.”
And for the record, here are the characters in Act One who have shown up with major and minor points of view, or have had a substantial speaking part: Annie, Annie’s Mom, Annie’s Dad, Mr. Mayhew, Kerry’s Dad, Kerry’s Mom, Kerry, Ms. Rutherford, Collin, Alicia, Mathilde, Deanna, Erwyin, Helena, Adric, Isis, The School Adviser, Nurse Coraline, Jessica, Holoc, Maddy, Lisa, Vicky, Wednesday, Harpreet, Emma, Ramona, Mathias, Gretchen the Night Nurse, and Trevor the Librarian. That’s thirty characters, and right off the top of my head I can think of about six other characters who are going to show up in the next two acts and have something say.
The good news is: Act One is really the “Let’s Get Everyone Out Here Now” act that does all the introductions, and the majority of these characters will continue on with the story through Acts Two and Three. The bad news is: there’s a lot more to the story that just Acts Two and Three. A lot more beyond what I laid out for Act Three back in October.
I was laying out time lines for my B Level story–as I mentioned in yesterday’s post–and more or less finished up how the story will go, including a scene that was frightening and tear jerking at the same time. Then I looked at all the other stuff I’ve laid out, really a huge amount of information, and wondered, “Am I really gonna finish this tale? Each ones of these stories will run well over a hundred thousand words, maybe closer to two. Will I really have the years left to finish it all?”
It’s an incredible task. Yes, I can write a quarter of a million words in a year if I try hard enough, and even edit it in three months time. I’m setting myself upon a long game where I could find myself spending five or six more years to tell a story that few, if any, people will ever read. This is where the madness comes in, because the question that keeps dancing about in my mind is why? Why do this?
It’s a strange thing, but once someone told me they had a dream where they were speaking with me while holding the book of this story in their hands. They told me this wasn’t the only time they’d had this dream, and that they were certain I’d not only write this story, but I’d tell it all. That if I kept at it, the story of these two kids and their trials and tribulations would become known.
Is that actually the truth? As Deanna would say, you have to be careful with visions, because by speaking them you almost certainly change the future in some way. But I’ve already spent two years with this story and these characters bouncing about in my head–
What does it matter if I spend another ten years of my life on it?
As Florence once sang–and, I should point out, the same song will be sung during a show at the school at some point in the future–”What the hell, I’m gonna let it happen to me.”
‘Cause if I didn’t, what else would I do?