Statistics on the novel

This gives a sense of the experimental novel I am writing. The charts are to amuse me and mark the time.

“Fires” are forest fires, which burn throughout the book. “Dreams” are dream chapters, most filled with fires. “Sheet music” is excerpts from twentieth-century classical piano compositions, some it invented, presented as playable sheet music and discussed in the footnotes.

2015

2018

2019

2020

2021

2022

Number of words

356,700

412,700

517,500

412,700

Number of illustrations

516

c. 500

c. 500

c. 500

Number of fires

14

9

9

9

Number of dreams

14

13

12

13

Number of pages

1,710

2,500

Sheet music pages

0

c. 30

c. 30

c. 100

Hours of writing

2,500

4,500

5,200

7,500

It looks like the entire novel will find its shape at around 500,000 words and 2,000 pages. That’s less than the limit of literary publishing: Infinite Jest is 550,000 words; War and Peace is 570,000 words. The problem is those books don’t have illustrations, and images will swell the page count. Few single-volume novels are published over 1,200 pages: Wallace’s is 1,100; Vollmann’s Imperial and Dying Grass are about 1,300.

In order to reproduce the images with reasonable quality, the pages will have to be coated stock, which probably puts the practical limit for a one-volume book at 600 pages.

To guess at the book’s page count, I am writing using a plausible novel format (B5 pages, one-inch margins, 10 font, ⅕ line spacing). To calculate pages in the table, I estimate 375 words per page, then add the illustrations at 2/3 page each. With the number of illustrations I expect, 500,000 words works out to 1,700 pages: too many to print as one volume.  Zettel’s Traum is over 1,000,000 words and 1,500 pages, and it’s 14” by 10.” Evening Edged in Gold is 18” by 12,” and crazy uncomfortable to hold and read. Bottom’s Dream, the English translation of Zettel’s Traum, is heavy as a baby and stroller together.

The separate books

If I keep the book small, B5 or A4, it could be divided into four large books, each published separately. That’s what Ferrante, Knausgaard and Proust did. Those novels each total over 1,000,000 words, but they have no illustrations to swell their page counts.

For that reason, in 2020 I decided to divide the project into four independent books:

        Book 1          Stories, Like Illnesses

Book 2   A Short Introduction to Anneliese 

Book 3   Weak in Comparison to Dreams

Book 4    Ghosts Are

Book 1

Book 2

Book 3

Book 4

Number of words

412,700

517,500

Number of illustrations

c. 500

c. 500

Number of fires

0

0

12**

0

Number of dreams

0

0

12**

0

Number of pages

740

Composers

3

c. 20

** Corresponding to the many sets of Twelve Preludes and Fugues, fugues being dreams.