Hallelujah, the battle is done! Let the bells ring forth! I can finally see the end of the novel, and it looks attainable, and only four chapters away! Five. Five chapters away, according to the bullet point list of things that needs to happen, because my brain just added a fresh one to the list I didn’t see coming, but in retrospect is completely necessary to properly secure a dangling plot cable.*
I’ve plunged into the next chapter with flagrant disregard for carefully considering forms of rank and address. I’ll fix it in post, when I clarify in my mind and worldbuilding whether intelligence in this case is a department of the armed forces or its own bureaucracy. Each has its benefits and drawbacks. Probably part of the armed forces, because I didn’t start life with a warm fuzzy love for unaccountable civilian bureaucracies, and it’s only gotten worse with more exposure. I shall strike them from my world! Muahahahaha! (Well, at least from the good guys. The bad guys definitely have them in spades.)
And then I’ll consult with my in-house subject matter expert. Which sounds cooler than “Love? Have you got a minute for me to read this and tell me how to fix it?”
Please don’t think this means the book is only weeks from kindle-ready. Not only do I have to finish this and compile it into a single document, but I have to enter that special hell for sydlexic writers known as copyediting. It has a lot in common with compiling and debugging code: in any given pass I’ll take 37 bugs out, miss 256, and introduce 5 new ones. (One day, with sufficient adult beverages, I will relate the tale of the C++ program with one line mistyped “note” instead of “node”. It’ll stop hurting soon, I swear.)**
And then there’s sending it out to my beta readers. While my North Texas Writers, Shooters, & Pilots Association beta readers aren’t moving, the ones I use for emotional plot arcs? One has contractors underfoot as she’s getting the house ready to sell, one is renting so she’s starting to look at packing, and budgeting for the move (having already reconnoitered the target area), one who’s also a subject matter expert has just finished the PCS From Hell and is likely to turn into a hermit on the new property for a while (though he’s now close enough I can road trip to visit, if I budget a full weekend!), and another is talking to a realtor and packing… Even my cover artist is in transition between states.
…Even the friend I plan to finally whimper for copyediting help on the final version is likely to be fleeing the left coast for a free state by the end of summer. And the other friend? She’s very happy with her mortgage, but not so much with the massive foundation repair and remodel ongoing right now. I suspect at the cost of wood right now, I could call her up and say “Will trade lumber for copyediting?” And she’d carpe jugulum so fast I’d be escorted to Home Despot at gunpoint if I tried to claim it was just a joke.
*runs screaming into the night*
Okay, self, stop freaking out about everything up in the air, and just concentrate on the next paragraph. The next sentence. The next ten words. You can do this…
The flash of light at the end of the tunnel was not just the sweating cordite becoming briefly less stable and changing state! It will get better! It will!
*much thicker than a mere plot thread, this includes the end of an emotional plot arc. I can no more leave that unsecured than a mooring line.
**Like all good stories, it turns pain to laughter by the alchemy of sufficient passage of time and sufficient comedic timing in the retelling.