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The Tim Tebow CFL Chronicles: One year later

A year ago this week, Jon wrote and illustrated a 45,000-word piece of sports science fiction about an offensive drive that lasted three million yards across the Canadian landscape. It was exhausting to write. And to read, probably.

Writing a retrospective on something I already wrote is self-serving and obnoxious as hell, but so is the object of retrospect itself, and so am I. This is really just a writer talking about what it was like to write something, and the chances are very good that you have better things to do.

The Tim Tebow CFL Chronicles spanned about 45,000 words and 100 illustrations. Once I was about 10,000 words into it, I allowed myself to make a video preview:

I'll try to compress this as much as I can.

It's 2014, and Tim Tebow's NFL options have been exhausted. He gives in to popular speculation and signs with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League, and immediately finds that Canadian game to be wildly different. The stadium seats 600,000 people. The ball has a long, finned javelin that protrudes out the end. Tebow runs in for a touchdown on his first drive, and learns that he's scored the first CFL touchdown since the 1980s.

And then he learns that it isn't a touchdown, because in the CFL, there are no touchdowns. You don't stop in the end zone. You keep going and going and going, in the same direction, outside of the stadium, through the city, into the woods, and across the continent.


The game lasts more than a decade, spans thousands of miles, and involves wolves and sea battles and a deep ball thrown from the roof of a skyscraper.

Anyway, I posted that video on July 26th, and my deadline for finishing the story was August 16th. I wrote those last 35,000 words, and put together those last 70 or so animations/illustrations, in about 20 days' time. I will never, ever, ever, ever do that shit again. For those three weeks or so, I got up at 7 a.m., put on some coffee, and worked uninterrupted until at least 10 p.m. Then I'd have a couple glasses of whiskey, make myself do something else for a couple hours, and go to bed. I did that seven days a week, and took one of those 20 days off.

I was motivated by a couple things. One was that I'd been kicking around the Tebow story for years (I actually made my first stab at it in 2013, wrote myself into too many corners, and left it unfinished). I couldn't bear the idea of not finishing it, and I was worried that if I didn't finish it by the end of that summer, I'd get too busy with other things and never have another chance.

Another, I think, was to see exactly where the ceiling of "too much work" was. Like a lot of writers, and a lot of people in any other line of work, I work what health professionals might call "too much." I rarely go entire days without doing at least some work. I've always been comfortable with this, and I guess I was just curious to see what happened when I turned every slider on the equalizer all the way up. That's stupid, and the music will sound like shit, but I just wanted to know what it was like.

The answer: something I'm glad I did once, and never want to do again. At some point there could well be something I do that I'm prouder of or happier with or whatever. But it is weird to walk down that hill, to look back and know that I will never rip my arm off for a project like that ever again.

So I hope y'all enjoy it, if it's new to you. It's irresponsibly large, and could bust you up something bad if you're viewing on a phone with a limited data plan. It is imperfect in parts, and has stuff I love and stuff I don't love so much.

It exists, though:

The Tim Tebow CFL Chronicles