Chapter 19 is completed

No, you did not read that title incorrectly. In one astonishing writing session, I managed to write the whole of a chapter of my novel-in-progress, The Sleep of Reason. In recent posts I had been lamenting how long it has taken me (weeks and weeks) to complete certain chapters. That is what makes this post so different and what makes my experience so astonishing.

Now before you begin lavishing me with your accolades, you need to know that this penultimate chapter comes in at a mere 1950 words. I am racing to the end — the finish line is in sight — and I don’t need to burden the reader with lots of chatter.

Actually, I knew that these last two chapters were going to be short. (It may be that they will be combined.) Most of the detail work has been laid out in the eighteen preceding chapters. As I’ve noted, the story involves the repetition of certain acts, almost rituals, and I spent a lot of time and words in the earlier chapters laying out the vivid details of these acts. Now I only need to make brief reference to those details and the reader can fill in the blanks. They’re not really important to the storytelling at this point (though they are in an ironic and mostly hidden way that will become clear in the final chapter). I’ve also been foreshadowing throughout the story, and much of that work is now coming to fruit. It gives more substance to the fewer words of the chapter, and careful readers will see that.

I’ve also mentioned before that this novel seems to be writing itself. More precisely, it seems at times that the story exists somewhere “out there” and that I am merely the scribe getting it all down as it is revealed to me. That has certainly seemed the case with this chapter as this and that little device has offered itself unbidden to me to make some points more clear and others more obscure. These things are just flowing out of my fingertips, hardly pausing in my thoughts before they make it onto the computer screen. I’m almost surprised when I see them in black and white before me.

I’m delighted with this, and as I’ve noted, I don’t attribute it to some external, supernatural force. There is no Muse or daemon at work. It’s all me. I think that I am simply so thoroughly invested in this story (and perhaps sufficiently in control of my craft) that these little touches are simply available in the toolbox.

And once again, before you begin heaping on the accolades, I must tell you that the first draft of the novel — when it is completed — will still need a lot of work. I’ve taken a few unexpected turns in the story, and I need to go back to the earlier chapters to fix, correct, prepare for these. In one case I need to rewrite an entire meeting with several individuals because the original ones simply don’t belong in the story any longer.

Once I have that overhaul finished, I will begin the scary (to me) work of recasting the whole thing with a third-person narrator. There are miles to go before I sleep.

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