A labor of five years ends: I finished “The Valley of Forever” tonight.

vof finished header

A few weeks ago I did an article, unusual for this blog, describing the writing project I’ve been working on, off and on but very intensively lately, called The Valley of Forever. This book, which falls not in horror but the speculative fiction category, has been a labor of love–and hate–for more than five years. (The Valley of Forever is technically a sequel to a short story I wrote in 2011, called The Antimeridian, which is available for free on Amazon Kindle). This is the most unusual, intensive, and I think meaningful book I’ve ever written.

Tonight, January 10, at 6:31 PM I finished it. Well, “finished” may be the wrong word–there are still revisions, editing, tweaking, etc., much of which may be very extensive. But I reached the end of the book, which now exists as a cohesive, completed whole. It is 109,682 words long, and I agonized over almost every one of those words. As this was the ninth draft, some of those words were written as many as five years ago, while others were written today. But, it’s over. As such I thought a commemorative blog post was worth it.

The Valley of Forever is a non-linear narrative, what you might call metafiction, with several story threads and a number of mutually exclusive (or concordant, depending on your point of view) endings. It’s essentially the story of two people. The first is Jerusha, a 44-year-old mother of two from Seattle, who has run away from her failed marriage to take a Caribbean cruise with a mysterious man she met backpacking through Mexico nearly 25 years before. The second, Ronan, is a mentally disturbed man coming to grips with demons from his past, who winds up on the same ship for reasons he does not entirely understand. Although Jerusha (the hero) and Ronan (the villain) never meet, when the ship is struck by a debilitating epidemic and is forced to endure a lengthy quarantine while anchored off an uninhabited island in the Bahamas, both characters begin to experience time in a very unusual and transformative way–which takes them both to the farthest limit of human consciousness and possibly the universe itself.

I’m at the end of the book, but now begins the long process of trying to bring The Valley of Forever into the world and into a form where all of you can read it. For right now, though, I’m going to have a celebratory glass of wine. After five years and nearly six million words, I think I deserve it.

The header photo at the top of this article incorporates (with changes) a photo by Wikimedia Commons user Bjoertvedt, which is used under Creative Commons 3.0 (Attribution) license.
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