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

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Status Report — Half-way

In this time of looking back, it’s hard not to feel a bit deflated. I have written 447,840 words in the last six months, but I have not written one War and Peace. I have not even written one John Grisham novel. I have thrown words around like Brewster threw his millions: to get rid off them rather than using them. This is me overstating things after a long, tiring day at work, but only slightly.

I would love to write 552,160 words in the next six months (3,001 words per day), but I would like to finish a novel more.

But the two are not mutually exclusive.

I am going to move the target line up to 3,001 words (from 2,732) on my weekly graphs to reflect the harder hill I have to climb in the second act. But I’m not going to pull my hair out every day I dip below this line. I still believe in the Shangri-La that is a string of 5,000-word days — once I’ve finished working full-time but haven’t yet started the long tiki tour home / when I’m working on Novel A and it all falls into place. When I picture this writer’s Shangri-La, I even have specific passages in the novel in mind: most of them involve Bhutan, which — coincidentally — is also known as The Last Shangri-La.

But enough looking forwards. I’ve decided to this as a list, if only because I’ve had this line from my second favourite Canadian band stuck in my head all day:

Memory will rust and erode into lists, of all that you gave me…

How I Spent My 447,840 Words

Short Fiction

13 short stories started and completed such that I might consider submitting for publication — 1 published (though I haven’t submitting many, that’s top of my To Do list at the moment)

9 short stories already drafted before 1 Jan have received serious attention in 2008 — 4 published

12 short stories begun but a) abandoned before completion of first draft or b) incomplete as at 30 June 2008

(164,367 words)


2 novels worked on in earnest — 0 completed

2 other novels dreamed up and preliminary research under take — 2 placed on back-burner / promptly forgotten

(86,310 words)


37 poems — 1 published

8 Word files full of words expended in the pursuit of poetry

(17,738 words)


104 posts on The Year of a Million Words

6 posts on my travel blog

1 guest blog entry

(101,825 words)


100-150 emails of a personal nature which at the time I deemed might be of interest to my poor biographer in sixty years — 5-10 emails probably fit the bill in hindsight (36,897 words)

19 reviews of stories on Zoetrope and approximately 10 reviews of work from my writing group (23,517 words)

3 extended biographical prose pieces written with no clear use in mind (11,886 words)

1 web-based project which never came to fruition but none the less deserved 5,300 words

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