If you’ve driven on a road trip, you know the calculation of time into mileage. A minute equals a mile. An hour on the freeway will take you sixty miles, and a day will take you four hundred miles or more. It’s a fair exchange of time for distance. That’s progress.
For writing a novel, I wish I could say that time transformed into pages, and pages added up to chapters, and enough chapters made a book. It doesn’t feel that way to me, though, because the route isn’t straight. It includes so much backtracking, detouring, and road-building. You can’t make progress unless you put the time in, but ironically, it can be problematic to see progress until you reach a major milestone. Then, after days and weeks of plodding, if you look over your shoulder, you’re surprised to see the distance you’ve come.
I’m reaching another milestone. I’ve promised this draft to my editor by Friday. When she and I spoke in November, I realized I should scrap the last third of my novel and try a different plot. It has meant another major reworking of the novel, but I think, I think I’m going the right direction now. My book has a new, nearly complete shape. I’m counting this as progress.