Photo: stevecadman
Photo: stevecadman

I’ve been camped out in the British Library all week, typing like a mad bastard in a dark corner of the café. There are a lot of us there, us mad-bastard typists. I’m most probably not the only person tapping away at a novel either, though from a quick glance around at the MacBooks and the old-school yellowed paper notebooks, it appears that the aspiring novelists still only make up a small portion of the rows.

What’s hitting me, now so close to the end of this draft, isn’t the usual arsenal of self-doubt. It’s not like sitting amongst the shadows of the greats has fixed my punctuation issues or repetition, or that nursing the same £1.90 cup of coffee all day has bought me the literary degree I keep hearing I need to ever be considered anybody. None of that stuff is lurking around at the moment, swept into the darkest corners by the momentum and the pace which I’m now smashing through this beast.

The thing is, I’m having too much fun right now to worry whether it’s good or not. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. Part of me doesn’t give a fuck, cause part of me is all about the “Hell yeah! I’ve (sorta) written a book“, which hey, regardless of whatever comes next, is a lot bigger a deal than a million others’ dreams or talked-up talk.

I’m not there yet. Not quite. I hit 200,000 words today, so I certainly hope the finish line is as close now as it tastes, based on how far through the mega-spreadsheet I am. I couldn’t help myself, right on the ding, to take a few and check the stats. It was astounding to see that I swept past the million-character mark a while back, which ok, doesn’t really mean all that much. But think about it: a million of anything, even a thing as inane as fingers tapping on a keyboard, certainly feels like either something, or madness. 

It’s a strange feeling, galloping down the final straight after so long plodding along with the manuscript, stealing a few hours of a normal week, as opposed to the 20 or so I’ve spent writing during this one. I shouldn’t say “final” either, really, because this will most certainly not be the end of work on the book. Quite the contrary, but because it is the first time through the novel thing – and not the last – the milestones feel like they’re worth celebrating.

Not long now. Eyes on the prize.