So I wrote this novel and it was long. I mean, like, totally, insanely long. So long that if I tried to precis it, I’d have to write another novel. A complete novel-length book. The whole thing came to nearly 800,000 words and that was after the rewrite and the edit and the re-edit. It wasn’t a rough draft anymore, anyway, and I didn’t know what to do with it.
I liked it. There was no word out of place. Every sentence was necessary. But it was insanely long. No one was going to read it. I didn’t even think I would read it again. So I left it on my laptop in a neat little folder named after the book’s title, sub-folders in it containing parts then chapters. It was easy to find. It was all very organised. It was just, like I’ve said a million times already, too long.
So I left it and tried to forget about it. I have a job. I went to work. But every time I came home and was on the internet, reading articles, watching videos, playing games, I’d eventually gravitate back to it.
I’d read an email from a friend which contained a link to an article he thought I’d find interesting, and I’d click on the link, read the article, see a picture about a movie adaptation of a fairly famous book, click on that, then get interested in the source material, look at the author page on Wikipedia or something then at one of their books and read the stats, 262p, and immediately think, how does mine compare?
And then I was there, going through my folders counting the number of pages, comparing the amount of words per line and lines per page I had with the novel on Amazon before coming to some roundabout figure.
It was staggering and off-putting and, in the end, depressing. I might as well have looked at some porn and had a wank instead. I would’ve felt no better, no worse. I’d have the same feeling of exhilaration when doing it and the same empty feeling afterwards, the pleasure at finding out how many pages I’d written immediately replaced by a feeling of worthlessness and guilt. And I didn’t want anyone else to feel that.
I thought about deleting it, but I couldn’t bear to think of all that time I’d spent on it going to waste. I could’ve sent it to someone, but then no one was going to read anything that long or a summary of it, not even a friend – especially a friend, knowing my friends.
So I thought maybe I could print it off and send it to a publisher, but I couldn’t justify it, the pages, the length, the swathes of trees that would be destroyed even if it was only a synopsis. Could I kill trees to print off a worthless book, or even a great book, a book that was accepted by a publisher, published, reviewed, praised, a book that topped the bestseller lists, a book the people read and loved, even though they knew half the Amazon had gone into printing it?
I could self-publish, put it online or a blog, but no one was going to read it and, anyway, think of the devastation my book would wreak, all that power wasted in generating electricity for all those people to read it on computers.
And by the time they’d finished, what would they have not done? What would they have lost, spending hours, days, months reading my words? And while they were reading them, what would’ve died, who would’ve been killed to get the power and the components for their computer? How much energy would’ve been wasted? How much ice melted? How many natural catastrophes? How much time not spent with family and friends?
So I went on my laptop, deleted all the files and took a hammer to the hard drive. No one was going to die so someone could read my perfect sentences. No one. No one at all. Especially if they were actually shit.
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