Posted by: Lawrence D. Elliott | December 25, 2008

82,614 Words Later

It was 8:34 am on December 20, 2008. My eyes were tired and my brain felt like mush. I’d been working on this project since May 29th. After having quite a few short stories published, I decided to start my own novel. I worked on the plot and characters meticulously. The time had come to begin.

It was a struggle getting the first five thousand words. But I continued to write. Then, I hit 10,000 words and I continued to write.


I hit 20,000 words and I started to feel like I had something special going.


I hit 30,000 words. I was excited!


Then, Murphy’s Law showed its ugly head. My wife Lisa had been off work since November 2007. Her illness took a turn for the worst. We spent the entire summer in and out of hospitals. Sadly, I would have lost her if I hadn’t have revived her on an afternoon in September.


And to top it off, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She would need surgery.


But I continued to write where and when I could—whether it was for an hour or through the night. Whether it was in my bed or in a park or in a lunchroom, or at the side of my wife’s hospital bed wearing a protective gown and rubber gloves. And I wrote in the waiting room as my mother had surgery.


My life was becoming filled with writing and hospitals, not necessarily in that order.


By October, Lisa had been home for a while—now using oxygen and a wheelchair. Both she and my mother appeared to be on the path of what I hoped was the road to recovery. Maybe hospitals would be a thing of the past or at least the distant future.


But I was growing increasingly more fearful of sleeping as she slept. I feared I would wake to the ending we had avoided. I checked on her continuously so much that I could hardly get a night’s sleep.


Then, I came up with an idea. Since I was continuously up and down the throughout night, I decided to use the night as my writing shift. I wrote sometimes until 8, 9, even 10 in the morning. Brief moments of sleep were becoming the norm. Then, I would start the day again.


I did the NaNoWriMo 2008 in November to put pressure on myself to finish. I hit 40,000 at a pace that suggested it was working.


At 50,000 words, I really began to believe I could finish it, in spite of all Murphy had thrown at me. To hell with it! I’m not scared of Murphy!


I wouldn’t let Murphy stop me from my dream!


Then, came 60,000, then 70,000, then…82.614 words later, I had completed my first draft of my novel! I sat in bed with my head propped up thinking of what I had done and how I did it.


It’s is now early Christmas morning. Gratefully, I’ll be able to spend the holidays with my wife knowing I’ve accomplished something under conditions that could have broken my spirits or my desire to continue…and I didn’t let that happen.


I look forward to January when I’ll start the editing and rewrite process. This is the best Christmas present I could have given myself. This was the best Christmas present I could have given us.


And with everything that has happened to my family over the year, we still feel grateful for what we do have. Things could have been better, but things also could also have been worse. Someday, Lisa and I will look back on this year and laugh. Not today, but someday, I know we will.


Merry Christmas to all and here’s to a Great 2009 for everyone!


  1. Congrats, Lawrence! I know it’s no easy task writing a novel under the best of circumstances and you had the kitchen sink tossed at you! I am still struggling to get my first novel length memoir finished, so believe me I know how frustrating it can be. Finding the time to write is the challenge of my life right now. Good luck revising your draft!

    • Thanks for your wonderful comments of support, Tim. I wish you continued success with your memoir. I know you’ll get it done! Perhaps someday we’ll both share a book signing together. Then, we can both say, “You remember when…?”

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