Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Longest Novel Ever

I’ve been vaguely thinking about scraping some of the old essays I’ve posted here and turning them into a book, so I imported all of my old entries on rumored from 1997 to present into Scrivener just to see what it looked like.  It turns out I’ve written about 650,000 words here, which means if I trim out the 90% I don’t like anymore, you still get a decent-sized manuscript.

A book of this size is difficult to manage. It’s big enough that Scrivener stutters a bit when you try some intensive operations, like if you select all of the text and reformat it in one pass.  (And this is on a relatively fast machine with 8 gigs of RAM).  I also got enough shit when I released my first book, Summer Rain, which was about 220,000 words.  That translated into about 650 pages, which I think is perfectly readable, but that was ten years ago, and now people tune out in the middle of a 140-character twitter update.  But printing a 650,000-word book presents challenges other than attention span.  CreateSpace can’t even handle a single volume that big; unless I made some creative font and margin choices, that would most likely take three books.

I am not sure if I’ll actually pursue this, because I really need to be writing new stuff, and even if I did, it would be some kind of best-of with a couple hundred pages, max.  But I was googling around and looking for the relative sizes of various books (Infinite Jest, War and Peace, etc.) and I found a guy who wrote a seventeen million word book.

Check it: http://marienbadmylove.com – it’s by a guy named Mark Leach.  It sounds interesting, a B-movie romp through time travel and UFOs and all sorts of things, but it also looks like it’s more performance art than readable fiction.  I mean, even if it was the best damn stuff in the world, it would require a year’s sabbatical from life and a forklift to handle all of the possible volumes.  But it appears he’s done a lot of Burroughsian experimental stuff, like using the cut-up method, to generate that much text, so this isn’t like sitting down to a Dan Brown novel.

This makes me think I should take all of those out-at-third-act novels I never finished, dump it into a big cut-up tool, and mix it down into some gigantic sick and twisted mess of a book.  It’s a thought.



One response to “Longest Novel Ever”

  1. motel todd Avatar
    motel todd

    Ahh, the ends and outs of the ever changing writing world. Steve Martin once made a joke of writing a novel with no verbs – there's an interesting concept -haha.