I’ve officially hit 300k words on A Memory of Light. This is an important milestone, and it’s probably time to pause and answer a few questions as frankly as I can.
Q1: Does it really feel like 300k is 75% of the book?
No. Not at all. I’ve said from the beginning that I’d write the book as long as it needed to be to tell the story the right way. My progress bar has always been set at 400k words, which is roughly the length of the longest Wheel of Time books. Very early in the process, I had thought that maybe I could bring it in at that length, but I realized the truth very quickly. There’s just too much going on in this novel to constrict it to any artificial length. It will be as long as it needs to be.
How long will that be? I still can’t tell for certain. For a while (since July) I’ve been saying 600-700k. That still feels right to me. The point I’ve reached right now does feel vaguely halfway, perhaps just a tad less. It’s hard to tell because I’ve never done a book like this before. I also don’t know how much we’ll be adding or editing out in revision even after I get the rough draft done.
Q2: Will it be split into two books?
As I’ve always said, this isn’t my call. Harriet and Tom will decide this. My gut instinct says yes, but I don’t know how that process will proceed. I think that the best thing I can do for the Wheel of Time readers is FINISH the book, no matter how long, with as much speed as I can manage while still maintaining the highest of quality. That way, even if the novel gets split, readers can be reassured by the fact that the book IS done and that it is not going to continue on endlessly.
One of my biggest fears is that readers will assume I’m artificially inflating the length of the book in order to keep the Wheel of Time going and bring in more cash. I promise you in all sincerity that this is NOT the case. I’m writing a single book, following the outline where I can, filling in holes where I must. We are not going to keep you juggling forever. I will finish this book as quickly as I can, so that even if the first half is released on its own, you can know that the second half is done and coming soon.
Remember. Robert Jordan DID write the ending himself. I just have to get us there.
Q3: Is writing on this book easier or harder than you expected?
I honestly didn’t know what to expect, so I have trouble answering this question, though many people ask it of me at signings. Let me tell you this: Writing this book is difficult. It’s the good kind of difficult, the kind that makes you stretch and improve in leaps and bounds, but it is TOUGH. Keeping track of all of the side character and sub-plots is a real challenge, and trying to stay true to the soul of the Wheel of Time while adapting my own style to something appropriate for this book has been even more of one.
I’m loving working on it. There are many who think it might be easier to write this book than one of my own (since there is an outline and the worldbuilding is done.) However, I think that it’s much, much more difficult. When it comes time to use a side character, I can’t simply make up their personality and fit them into the plot–I have to research how they’ve thought, talked, and acted in the past, then incorporate that. I have to be careful what I add as I can’t contradict the plotting from books past. And beyond that, there is a huge level of expectation and hope resting upon this novel. My own, that of Harriet, and that of all of you readers who have been waiting for almost twenty years to read.
This all makes the book tough to write. But, as I said, it’s the good kind of tough. I started writing fantasy in the first place because I think it’s one of the most challenging genres to write in, and the prospect of working on this book still excites me.
Q4: So…release date?
Sorry, but I really have no firm idea on this. I’m still hoping to get to 400k by December 31st. (Watch the website and see if I make it–it’s going to be very close. I could make it still, but it will take some hard core writing through December.) At that point, I think it will be time to fly out and see Harriet again to go over the outline for the remaining portion of the book. (What we talked about during my last visit in April will bring us right up to about the point where I’ll be ending in December.) At that point, we’ll decide whether to press forward with the rough draft until the book is done or do some heavy revising on the first 400k to stabilize it before moving on. We’ll have to talk this through, as I can’t really decide which would be better. I’m of two minds on it.
If I press forward, I could have the book finished by March or April. If we revise, it will probably be until June or July. But even that is probably an optimistic guess, since I have no idea how much time the book will need to spend in revision.
I keep saying that I’d like to have the book out by November next year, and that’s not outside reason. But we’ll have to see. The last thing we want to do is release a book that feels rushed and thrown together. One thing I do know is that Tor is poised to get it through production at record speeds once we turn it in.