A long season of depression appears to be be reaching a conclusion. I’ve little to show for the last few months, and I have a great number of unfinished obligations. At this point, they’re almost broken promises. But if it’s writing or fiction related, it’s likely I’ve dropped the ball on it. This means critiques that have waited for months, stories that have barely progressed, and books that cry out for additional editing.

I’ve joked that I’m retired. I’ve joked that I should have chosen to get into carpentry instead of writing. Or been a microbrewer. Anything that could’ve proven more useful or worthwhile to others.

People like cabinets. People like microbrews.

But some people like the stories I’ve done. And, to be honest, I like a lot of the stories I’ve done. And I have a few others that I’m not leaving until I’ve fully crafted.

So I’m turning the lights back on. I’m firing up the machines. I’m sitting back down.

Fingers on keys.

And I’m going back to Daukherville.

Long overdue, I suppose, but here is the video log I made depicting my adventures trying to finish the last draft of Daukherville by going to a cabin without power or running water for five days and five nights in the bug-infested wilderness of my home state of Maine.

I had a goddamn blast, for what it’s worth, and I pride myself on this adventure, thanks to my father telling me that, as far as he knows, I lasted the longest anyone in my family has ever lasted at the cabin.

The Redlaw Daukherville Expedition

Epilogue here.

Daukherville Cover Art

Daukherville Cover Art

You know the one. The one that took me forever to write. The one I (sort of) finished in a cabin in the Maine woods last summer.

Yeah, so … where is it?

Funny you should ask. I’ve come here to confess and publicly shame myself. I’ve come here to admit that when it comes to editing, I am nothing but useless.

And it needs to stop.

I told myself I needed to take a break. And so I did. I told myself I needed to write something else, and so out came Ed at Eleven, which itself is another novel I don’t know how to edit. After that, I told myself I could take a break, kick back, I’d written two novels in one year. Time for some video games! I told myself maybe it was time to focus on some short stories, so I wrote a few more first drafts–with a lot of days in between where I wrote nothing. Gone are the days of 500 words a day.

When I think about Daukherville, I think about an idea that I screwed up. I think about characters I don’t fully understand, even after spending fifteen years with them (actually, very soon it’s going to be sixteen years since I wrote the very first incarnation of the story that had become Daukherville). This fucking book is about to graduate high school, for crying out loud!

What am I afraid of? That’s easy: I’m afraid this is one of those Obsession Projects. You know the ones–the projects where the writer puts way too much pressure on the thing to be the Grand Work. In my case, Daukherville is supposed to be my Great American Horror Novel. But it’s depressing, because I know that the book I wrote in one month is actually better than the book that took me fifteen years. Daukherville smells of too much sweat.

But it can’t end like that. I refuse to let this book that I have loved and dreamed about for so freaking long end its life as the setup for a stupid joke about the writer who tried too hard and failed. I care about this story. I care about getting it right. And it’s big and it’s intimidating and it’s complicated, but the job is to make it work.

So, these days, I’m trying to look at it. To think about. To ease off on the pressure. It is one of the stories I am going to write in my life; it is not the story I am going to write. This website itself is full of other ideas. Ideas I like. Things that were fun to write.

This is not fun. This is hard, and it is really scary being here and not knowing if the book’s ever going to be something I’m proud of …

Daukherville Cover Art

Daukherville Cover Art

The first thing I really did was throw Daukherville aside in disgust for a few weeks. I didn’t get there–not to the point where I thought I was in the fevered hours when I wrapped it all up. I know what I want the book to be, and I know it’s not there yet. I have a lot of work left to do.

The question now is how do I begin?

I’ve started by conceiving a program called WATSON. WATSON displays the sections of my novel, tracks pertinent details and timeline events and character specifics and any other notes or to-dos I might want to assign myself. It also lets me know when my sentence structure or my sentences themselves grow redundant or cliched.

I started building WATSON while I was finishing my book, and now it seems a challenging mountain of tasks to finish writing the program and edit the stupid novel.

So I think what I will do first is to focus on parsing the novel into the program and logging each scene’s characters and basic gist and analyzing each scene for drama. This will end up working out to be a read-through of the book and a chance to note details. As I find them, I’ll enter the information into the program to make sure I’m not making mistakes about my own characters.

I’d like to have the first read-through completed within the week. Assuming the delivery date for the next draft of the novel to be Halloween, I want to have a real solid editing plan ready by next Sunday.

In the meantime, I’ve been reading a lot, which is nice. Read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (not great, but readable), Supervirus (written by my roommate’s coworker), but now I’m finally into something I really love, which is Katherine Dunn’s amazing book, Geek Love. I read the first third this weekend, and it’s brilliant. Even now, it’s calling to me, telling me to forget all this editing crap and get back to the world of the Binewskis.

Daukherville Cover Art

Daukherville Cover Art

That’s all. What more is there to say? It’s approx. 170,000 words, which is probably a bit long. It probably needs a lot of additional work, editing, rewriting, and paring down. This is actually probably only the halfway point. But you know what?

I haven’t finished a book since 1996. Not even in draft form, which, let’s be serious, is all I ever write anyway. The book is done. I could pass out copies, and people could read it and get a complete story–beginning, middle, and end.

And I know it’s late, and I’ve just been balling my eyes out as I typed, but sweet baby jeebus, I think this one’s good.

I think it’s really good.