William A. Hainline: Reality Engineer

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The go-to site for fans of science fiction writer William A. Hainline. Also the go-to site for non-fans, or anybody else who wants to follow what this curmudgeonly weirdo of a writer is currently up to in the depths of his mad science dungeon.

The Novel Is FINISHED! Well, The first draft at least...

It's DONE! I'm done! The novel is finished, at long last! 481,758 words of it, to be precise. All done, with a proper ending and everything. I feel as though a major chapter in my life has at long last come to a fulfilling close, the final words "THE END" marking the finish of a long journey that I started twelve long years ago in a different apartment, in almost another life. I was a different person then, almost a totally different writer, with different goals and a different mindset about the work. It shows in the evolution of my style, I think; that's why I had to go back and do so much rewriting over the years that I kept working on it. But now, it's finished, finito, and the grand finale has played at last in this singular concert of the mind that was this epic story that just had to come out of me. I stretched and strained, grunting and groaning, pushing and stressing . . . wait, you know what? This isn't a good metaphor, so I'm just going to cut it short, turn things around, and say that producing this novel was a lot like giving birth. There, that's better. Yeah, giving birth. That's it. I'm not a woman, and I've never actually given birth, so I don't know if it's really a fair comparison to make, but boy, it sure felt like it at times. There was rough going for a few years in the middle there. Times when I thought I was finished, and so I would put something out, only to be mortified by my hideous lack of judgment later on. Times when I thought i would never be finished, and I would despair, hopeless, and would want to throw in the towel. Luckily I had friends and family who kept me going, kept me on the path, who stood me up and slapped me in the face with fresh motivation to keep me moving, keep me writing, keep me sane. There were times I didn't know if I was going to live to see the thing completed, when I struggled with depression and anxiety so badly I thought I was going to up and follow Gadget's path that he struggles with at the book's outset ‗ that's right, suicide. But thankfully, my friends and family came to my rescue there again. They kept me on the straight and narrow, kept me alive, kept me writing. And so it has come to pass that now the book is finished, and I . . . Don't know what to do. I feel strangely free. Strangely at odd-ends. Is this what happens to all writers once they finish pushing out a huge brain-turd — er, child! I mean CHILD! — like this?

Above all, I feel proud. Proud of the work, proud of the achievement. Proud to finally stand back from the laboratory table, cackling with mad glee as the lightning strikes and the creature rises from the slab, and I intone in my best evil voice, "It's alive!" I feel good about this book. Better than I ever have about any other creative project I've embarked on. Better than I have about any other foray into the arts I've tried. I think it has to do with the fact that I planned it. I sat down about two years ago, rolled up my sleeves, and drew up blueprints before I got started, and decided how I wanted the story to flow; I built a foundation first, and then erected the house on top of it. And now that I've finally finished the whole structure, I feel that its beauty is in part due to the planning that went into it. It was a lot of work. Now the really hard work is done; now comes the next phase — the editing, the beta-reading, the fixing all the little problems and the sanding, the polishing, the fixer-upper part, the part where I go through and twiddle with all of the knobs and hook up all the cables into just the right sockets, so that the whole machine hums along as it was designed to. So that the engine runs just right. So that the house lights up just the way I want it to. WHICH SHOULD BE THE REALLY FUN PART!

I am so glad i wrote this novel. It gets a lot of things down on paper that I've always wanted to say, but didn't know how to say until my characters said them for me. It gets a lot out of my system that I didn't know how to get out, until I found myself writing it there on the page. It tells a story that I think I always wanted to tell, but didn't know how to tell until I found myself writing it, found myself letting it unfold before my eyes, found myself living it right alongside my characters and letting myself experience it alongside them and their whacky hijinks. I think it's a good book. Whether the rest of the world thinks so, or not, will be the icing on the cake for me. What matter is I wrote it, and I meant it, and it will always be a triumph because dammit, I started it, and I finished it. And that's good enough for me.