193,000 Words Later

Big news – since publishing a reflective post on my 30th birthday, I have finished the first draft of the book. Holy shit, here we go…

I began writing this like I start most things in my life, I just said “Sure, why not?” But, as I got more and more into it, I was able to define one goal for the book. That’s right, only one goal:

I want to have one person read it 100 years after I die.

And no, if you’re reading this announcement, you don’t count. I don’t care if advances in modern medicine allow you to live a century from now.

So, why is that my goal? I mainly read dead authors. And it’s strange to me that even though they’re not here anymore, their words are still communicating to me. They are long gone and yet they have influenced me and will never know.

Defining the goal changed my writing. In a way, it simplified things: I could write with an appreciation of the present as if it were the past, removing company/brand names, highlighting current technologies that in 100 years will be obsolete, etc. On the other hand, it complicated things. Not in the writing, but in me personally. Let me give you an example:

Write 3 different beliefs you have that you will still be proud of in 10 years.

I mean it, this isn’t rhetorical. Do it. Send them to me if you wish.

Most of what I wrote, I questioned — am I gonna be proud of this in a decade? What about past that? Or what about right now? Who am I?

The writing needs some serious editing. But today, I can’t believe the draft is done. Here are some fun numbers:

193,470 words
That’s how long my first draft is. In comparison, check out the lengths of these familiar books:

Two of the Harry Potter’s got me – Tolkein was perfect so I won’t speak in comparison there – and thankfully I edged out the Twilight series. (To note: I expect to edit it down closer to the 170k length; my editor thinks 120k — that’s why I pay him the big bucks)

403 days
That’s how long it took me to write. Said another way: 1 year, 1 month, 8 days. My goal was to write 500 words every time I opened my computer for the day. This did not happen. I missed every deadline, took some time off to mourn the loss of a friend, participated in a MIT-business accelerator for Ungrocery, and blah blah blah. Even so, at 193,470 words over 403 days = 480 words/day. I’ll take that. 1 year, 1 month, 8 days.

It felt longer, much longer. I poured my heart and soul into this draft. At parts, I cried; at others, I cringed; and at 1 or 2, I cracked a smile. But most of the time, I thought it to be terrible writing.

I heard someone say, “when you put your heart and soul into something, sometimes there’s nothing left.” He nailed it. Most nights when I finished writing, I felt empty, isolated, numb. I’d crave some sort of feeling, some sort of fix, but please nothing social. I’d go into a funk and need solitude. All part of the process. More on that to come.

Did it change me? Sure, why not. Two things come to mind. First, gratitude. Thinking and processing made me more thankful for the people in my life. Second, no more mundane. Writing made me notice more, feel more, and do more. I haven’t felt like I’ve had a “normal” day in about 2 years. I don’t expect that to change.

Where do we go from here? I don’t really know. But here’s the “plan”:

A) let it sit for 3 weeks. Do a single, solo edit. Just me and the text.

B) send it to the editor. Just him and the hard copy.

C) Discuss his findings. Write Second Draft.

D) Have a group of 5-7 people read it (could be YOU!). Take in feedback.

E) Send to polishing editor. She’ll look for grammar/punctuation/etc to turn this into a finished work.

Other things I have to do:

1) figure out how to publish it.

2) record the audio-book in LA (Or have James Earl Jones do it if he’s available)

3) Publish hardcopy.

You’ll learn about this process with me — I’ll post here as I stumble through it.

Lastly, I will never write a book this personal again. One and done. There’s a lot of other stories I wish to tell – just not mine.

Writing isn’t the hard part. Honesty is.

Thankful for you – more to come,

Tim

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