I get grumpy. Snapping at the kids, snapping at the wife. I roll my eyes at my friends and don’t answer my phone. I get grumpy about 3/4 of the way through the book. OK, that is how it used to be. This time it was a little more like 3/5. Maybe a little less. I get to the end and I have to run, to let my legs stretch out a little.
I enter what we call End of Book Mode and I finish the book. Bekah takes over everything. Sometimes I can still make dinner. Sometimes I can still take care of some of my responsibilities. But most of the time, I’m useless. I write. That’s all I do. I write all the time. Put it first, before anything else. I come down to my office and I write for hours at a time. On normal days, I write in 3,000 word blocks. Deep into EOBM, I write differently. I stop thinking in terms of numbers and I start writing in scenes. It doesn’t sound that different, but everything changes when I make the shift.
3,000 words is meant to be a spacer. It tells me, I have this much time to tell my story today. When I’m done with that count, I’m done. It doesn’t matter where I am. Doesn’t matter how close I am to the end of the chapter—to the end of the scene—if I’m out of words, I’m done. Can’t do anymore until the next day or the end of the weekend. EOBM doesn’t work that way. Now, I’m writing until the scene is done. If the scene is 4,000 words long, I write all 4,000 words. If the chapter is 6,000 words, then that is my block. One scene is not usually my goal. Usually the goal is in blocks of book. The attack on the city, well, that might be three chapters, altogether 11,000 words. I write until that is done. No matter what that takes. The mode of writing changes. With it, everything changes. It’s a change of perspective. It’s a different way of looking at work.
It started with Eastgate. That book took me over. I was obsessed with that story. It was my first epic. Ended on page 810. It took me 3 months, to the day, to write. Started Sept 15, ended Dec 15. When I was about 500 pages in, I lost it. I was falling apart. I would get trapped in it. I was waking up at 1 pm those days, writing at 1:30, done with 3,000 by 3. Then my wife would read it out loud and we would talk about it. By page 500, it was all we were talking about. I would go on for hours about the dynamics of the story, talk about where things were going, develop on the spot. I would talk incessantly about the book. Bekah would prompt me with questions and I would answer them as if I knew, even though I had not thought about them before. The answer was always there. When that conversation was over, I got depressed. I would linger around my desk, praying for the day to end so I could get up the next day and write again. Finally she came to me.
The term she used was blank check. “I am giving you a blank check to write whenever you want to. Just finish the book,” she said. And I got started. This was the first time I had really been kidnapped by a book before. Bound and gagged to my computer, all I could do was write. I would do about 4,000 words in the morning, and another 4,000 at night. One night, the night I call Thek, I stayed up writing until 7 in the morning. That night, I wrote the scene where they attempt to rape Karathek. In a matter of ten seconds, she killed about eleven men. At the end of the scene, the love of her life was watching her get beaten to death and he was losing his mind.
That night, I kinda lost mine. I listened to a song by Evanescence called “Lithium” and thought about what it would be like to watch the woman I loved being beaten to death and bleeding out. When I wrote that scene, I was not completely sane. That night, I wrote 15,000 words. It was the most intense experience of my life. Moreso than all of my abuse, than the birth of my children, than anything I have ever gone through before. There was a break with reality that night, a shuffling off of the rational and an embracing of the wild. I held a live wire that night, got a glimpse into a world so horrible that I was no longer at my desk. To this day, that scene haunts me. I think about it too much and I begin to shake. It is part of a seven-book series. When I write a new book in that series, I have to reread every book in it so far. I have read that scene four times. Every time, it brings me back to that night.
That is what EOBM is for, breaking loose of the rational world. I allow myself to go a little crazy, to do things I would never allow any other time. It is the one time where I allow myself to sink in, become enveloped in the story to the detriment of my reality. EOBM is the most intense I get anymore. It is a license to go crazy, given to me by the only person that has the right to allow it.
Things have gotten more intense in the last year. I wrote two books at the same time last year. Two epics. They took place at the same point in my timeline. In the telling, there were a number of point of view characters. I couldn’t fit them all into one book, so I did two. One happened in the afterlife, one in the real world. When I got close to the end of each, I let off in a sprint. The first finished was On the Corpse of Wrath. I got within 100 pages of the end and went for it. I was done in about three days. That’s an average of 33 pages a day. When it came to finishing City of the Lion, there were about 120, done in four.
Since then, I have written two books. One had a 280-page EOBM that took ten days. This last one had an 85 that took two, including a 17,000-word day, where I wrote from 12:30 am to 9, getting in a 14,000 word stretch. The time at the end of the book is gaining momentum. I am writing more and more in fewer days. I’m not sure where this is leading. It seems now that the need to run comes faster and faster. I see the end sooner and have to reach it. My vision is expanding. I’m getting more of the book quicker. Soon, I fear I will know the end, and everything that is happening in the middle, a few days into writing. Will I be forced to go into end of the book mode if there are 600 more pages to write? I’m not sure. But I know it is a thing I am becoming more and more addicted to.