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I hit a milestone today. This morning, while pounding out the novel I’m writing for National Novel Writing Month, my word count surpassed 15,700 words. In terms of writing 50,000 words in 30 days, I’m tracking way behind where I should be. But this point is an auspicious one for me. In four years of writing novels in November, the most I’ve ever written is 15,621. Passing that point, I felt a little like Sam standing at the edge of the Shire, realizing that this is the farthest from home that I have ever been.
High up in the mountains of Nepal stands South Everest Base Camp, a stopping off point for climbers attempting to reach the summit of the tallest mountain in the world. At over 17,000 feet above sea level, getting to the base camp takes six days from the Nepalese town of Lukla and an incredible amount of physical stamina. Climbers must train for years just to be able to climb to the Base Camp.
Yet, once they reach it, the mountain still remains before them, waiting to be conquered. There is still a long, arduous journey ahead.
I’m at the base camp of my novel. So far in, but with the greatest challenge still to come. 15,700 words is a huge accomplishment for me, but it’s a far cry from 50,000. This is where I leave the familiarity of the Shire behind. This is where I begin the climb.
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Jonny Eberle is a writer and climber of metaphors. You can find him on Twitter.