The Last Mile Problem

Every night I sit down to write Issue 12. I sit down in front of Scrivener and I stare at it, working out various permuations in my head, writing, revising, going back, editing, writing more. Every day I advance a few hundred words, which isn't nearly enough.


I know I'm going to finish this damned issue. That's not in question. But what is maddening to me is how freaking long it is taking. I've put everything else aside (except for my day job, which I really can't put aside because MONEY). The new chapter to The Points Between is closer to being finished than Issue 12, but that's still on hold because I have. to. get. this. stupid. issue. finished.


In the late 90s/early 2000s computer magazines were talking about the "last mile problem," which was the logistical difficulties in getting the US fully connected with high-speed internet. The "last mile" was, essentially, that last mile of wiring you needed to do to complete the connection.


This is my last mile problem. Issue 12 isn't the end of the serial, but is the end of year one, and a significant point in the plot. I'm still digging and laying wire, working my way to the house.


AAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa


ok I feel better now.


I've entered into the home stretch of Worm and I know the feeling.


It's a shift of mental gears. Earlier in the serial, you're free to implement new ideas and see where they go. In the endgame stage, you've got the task of tidying those plot elements up. The beginning and ending of a work (or in your case, the year) are the hardest and most important parts to write.


The important thing, I think, is to establish a routine. I'm up to 1,500,000 words and I'm just past the two year mark. A large part of that is me doing every update on a set schedule (twice a week) and never deviating from that schedule. The routine gives you momentum and that momentum keeps you going even when you hit the slower, harder parts.


The disruption of my routine has probably had a lot to do with it.


My wife has wanted to move back home for a long time (she grew up in Alabama). Earlier this year I got a job that let me work from home, which meant we could live anywhere... so we packed up the house and moved south.


The PLAN was to stay with her mom for a little while, while we went house hunting, then move into our new house, and settle in. And I had planned for a certain level of disruption during that time... but I didn't plan enough.


- Packing the house was a very disruptive process, especially after wife & daughter went down ahead of me, leaving me to do the rest myself. Which screwed up the May issue and pushed it off to June.


- Once I got down to Alabama, the contract that I was on that allowed us to move in the first place ENDED, leaving me without a job, forcing us to extend our stay at my mother-in-law's house, and basically screwing everything up.


(Don't get me wrong, my mother-in-law is a great lady and if it weren't for her we'd be in much bigger trouble than we were. But we are disrupting her life and the eternal guest status is killing my ability to focus on anything. I'm all over the map.)


I finally have a day job again but haven't received my first paycheck yet, and we can't start looking for new digs until we have a steady income again.


Basically the last few months have just been one chaotic mess of chaos, chaotically chaoticing all over chaosland. Establishing a routine in that mess has been... difficult.


What pisses me off? I had actually spent most of January and February forcing myself to get back on track with Curveball and had created a workflow that was finally working. Which was shot all to hell by this.


Momentum: gone. But I am still moving forward. Inch by inch by fucking inch.


KICK AND CRAWL! Get it done man! I know the feeling (not of ending, i crave knowing that feeling! ) but of lost momentum. Also remember, you have fellow authors and beta readers to bounce ideas off of if need. Shit, these days I spend more time on FB and email sounding off on other authors ideas, giving feedback and story editing than I do on my own writing. (not that that's a bad thing. I've discovered I'm a better editor than I am a writer, much to my chagrin. )


Also, Wildbow, you aren't human. Or you have access to time freezing technology. That is all.


What Alexander said! I don't know that I can realistically take scheduling advice from a man who is obviously a Time Lord. ;-)


I adjusted my habits for the last few chapters. I took a weekend to just write a lot of stuff all at once (I think I wrote probably 6-8 installments in one sitting without worrying about the l ength . Not much editing. Just a lot of throwing things on paper, tying up loose ends, trying to find that one thing (whether it be a character arc or a mystery) that convinces you and your readers that you've sold them a resolution.


Don't edit right now. Vomit text.


I hear ya. The last mile problem is a killer! THere's the desire to do a good ending, the need to find all the plot threads you have to wrap up, and a certain amount of hubris that you've got this far and written X many words so and the last Y many words will be easy (they aren't!).


I'm about 15,000 words off finishing AFTGTJ (which is at this point about 210,000 words long), and I have a month before I am moving from Australia to the UK, so I am trying to finish up a job, get my life packed up, see all the people who I will shortly be a 24 hour flight away from, AND finish a series I've been working on fro three years.


My solution (which wouldn't work for everyone...!!) is that I've switched from bi-weekly 1000 word posts to daily 700 word posts. 700 words is pretty easy to bash out before work, and with that pace I don't have time to get stuck on last mile issues; just gotta push through. I've written some stuff I'm not overjoyed with, but I've managed to lay the plot down, get some momentum going, and hopefully give satisfaction to the readers who have stuck with me for 3 years.


And at the end of the month, I'll have 3 finished novels that I can finally sit down and bloody well edit. Once I've moved to London. ;)


Being a writer is never boring, that's for sure...