While living and working in Edinburgh in 2008 I set out to write one million words in 366 days... but only managed 800,737.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Status Report: Weeks Eighteen and Nineteen

Weeks Eighteen and Nineteen – The Stats

Fortnightly word count: 31,266 words

Average: 2,233 words per day but if you exclude the four days in Paris you get 3,127 words per writing day

Most productive day: Tuesday 6 May, 4,371 words

Least productive days: 2nd, 3rd and 4th of May, 0 words

Year-to-date: 343,085 words (17,571 words behind target)

That last graph, well. I had been noting down a score out of ten to describe my level of optimism. But when it came to today, “optimism” didn’t seem like the right word.

I didn’t really think about writing while in Paris, so rating my optimism regarding my own writing seemed pointless… but I think the dotted line tracks the growth of my Self Belief over those days away quite well.

Being in the pessimistic mood I am today, I can’t resist observing that I have more self-belief when I’m not writing than when I am.

What’s got to me today? Numbers. And not the deficit. I’m beginning to harbour an affection for the burrowing worm. No. My problem is how large some of the numbers are getting. Like 61,000+ words expended on Novel B. Surely that’s something to be proud of, or at least encouraged by, right? Not when the definitive file is only 3,500 words long. This is about the seventh definitive file. Each time I start from some other point, some other angle. Each time it feels right. “This could be the one” (to quote my own characters from a wee story I should submit somewhere on the internet before I forget it exists). Speaking of forgetting, that’s one of my strengths as a writer/fool. I keep forgetting how far I actually got with my previous definitive versions (a.k.a. false starts). I opened one up today and was shocked to find it was 45 pages long. And there I was languishing on eleven.

I’ve struggled before, but never so prolifically. 61,000 words to get 3,500… it just doesn’t seem right.

I am working on too many things at once.

I am thinking too far ahead of myself too often.

I will regret writing with so much candour on this blog tomorrow.

Do you know what? I’m thinking of returning to Novel A. The last time I touched it was a 3 day spurt 20-22 Feb. And before that it was 18 Jan.

What is Novel A? It’s a complete rewrite, refocus, resetting of my MA thesis/novel written in 2006. It was about an indie rock band composed of four members, all of whom were opposed to becoming famous as it would destroy their credibility as musicians… but then something happens to each individual band member and they need to become famous to achieve something in their private lives. A comedy of cross purposes, a satire of musical affectation, a cautionary tale about seeking the limelight.

It had its upside. But it had its downsides. I look back now and I can see I didn’t quite know what I was writing. Or: I couldn’t decide which of four books to write so I wrote all four of them as one. Even as I tried to rewrite Novel A in Nov-Dec-Jan-Feb I think I was still muddled by the possibilities. I wasn’t ruthless enough.

I am prepared to be ruthless today.

The only problem is, I’m not sure what will be left when I’m finished sluffing the deadskin, and what I will be able to add that is new.

But I look at the some of the scenes and characters I had in previous drafts of Novel A and compare them to Novel B (which is better written, but you’d hope so when every for every word there are twenty discarded ones) and think: this is the stuff I love to read. Novel B is the stuff I like to read.

The like/love distinction. The number of false starts. The three-weekly crisis of confidence.

It’s all telling me something.

Why I need to share this, I don’t know.

Perhaps I’m just doing this to add suspense to next week’s status report.

Will he or won’t he work on Novel A?

If only creating a climax in fiction were as easy as making a pie chart…


Anonymous said...

Maybe you could expand into video blogging? You could be as cool as this girl:

Anonymous said...

This is my favourite vlog though:

Rachael King said...

Ew, automated robots have been posting on your blog!

Craig, I went through exactly the same thing (and blogged about it). I think the most important thing is to write the kind of book you want to read. Then you will be kept interested and that will give you the drive to finish it and see it published. I love the sound of Novel A - I'd buy it for sure!

(ps the outcome of my novel dilemma is that I have once again ditched my Novel A and gone with Novel B, on which I have written about 20,000 and kept 12,000 (but am about to do another chop).

Craig Cliff said...

I wish they were automated robots. His name is Roger and he is real.

Anonymous said...

I had a blog once:

Couldn't quite figure out how to work it......and can't quite figure out how to log in again.

Only one major update - Tony is now in rehab. Slaughtered.

Craig Cliff said...

I couldn't leave a comment on your blog coz you never made a post :(

You have had 16 people view your profile over the last 23 months though. Or you've viewed it 15 times and I've viewed it once.

And Roger: You're Welcome (re: Neutral Milk Hotel).

What kind of rehab? Drugs, alcohol, gambling... or do they only have one rehab in NZ and everyone goes there?

Anonymous said...

NMH is the shiznit - that album is top 3 to stay. I'm currently exploring the entire back catalogue of Van Halen.

Gambling rehab - basically withdrawn from the real world for a year. But you're lucky to have avoided all the kerfuffle, everyone is long over his bullshit.