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, September 28, 2008

Status Report: Week Thirty-Nine

I should start by touching on two points on my last status report. Firstly, my prediction for Week Thirty-Eight (Seven Days of Zero Words) was incorrect. On the nine hour ferry ride from Santorini to Athens I tried to write. Due to the circumstances “writing” meant longhand in a 99 euro-cent notebook I’d bought especially in Fira (I was getting withdrawal). By my count I wrote 1,907 words. Not a very good return for nine hours, but it wasn’t the most conducive environment. And I know it says in my own rules that only words typed into a computer should count towards my tally, but I went through the effort of counting them and I don’t see the difference between my abortive efforts then and my abortive efforts in Microsoft word today… so I’m counting them.

I was tried rewriting the opening pages of Novel A while I was on the ferry. In my last status report it was still up in the air which novel (the imaginatively named A and B) I would throw myself into upon my return. I thought I’d cracked it as I lay in bed my last night in Santorini. I had the voice for the narrator of Novel A, the unique way to open the novel. I planned out the first page in my head, crafting the sentences, reordering them. When I came to put them down on paper on the ferry, I remembered it all, but it wasn’t actually a page, it was half a page. When I tried to fill the rest of the page, it began to unravel. I tried another angle. And another.

Somewhere in the Aegean Sea I decided to jettison Novel A (for now) and finish Novel B. For those of you playing Count The Flip-Flops, this brings the 2008 tally to 298.

Anyway. Novel B is going great. Slow but great. I think my self confidence hit 11 on Tuesday. Everything in the most recent file before I abandoned Novel B last (early May) was well written and I could see where it all fit in. There were gaps where I could start writing straight away, and the voice came right back to me.

On Wednesday I went back and looked at some earlier drafts from Jan-Feb 08, just to check I hadn’t jettisoned a scene or even a phrase that needed resurrecting in the definitive version I was now working on. But these older drafts were awful. I mean, unreadable awful. It was like I had written these drafts five years ago. Like I didn’t care about sentences. Didn’t care about characters. Didn’t get around to having a plot.

I how could I have been so off the mark in February, and so sharp in April? How could I have abandoned the novel in May? Some of the answers are probably embedded in this blog. One day I might read over this and see if I can isolate certain behaviours (reading certain authors, blogging too much or too little, thinking too much about publication) which mess with my quan.

Then again. I’m happy to write off all of my earlier rubbish as ‘Getting Into The Voice’ and just power on with what I hope will still be a happening project a month from now.

Week Thirty-Nine – The Stats

Weekly Wordcount: 17,700 words
Average: 2,529 words per day (compared to target of 3,001)
Most productive day: Tuesday 23 September, 3,892 words
Least productive day: Saturday 27 September, 882 words
Year-to-date: 617,777 words (125,392 words behind target)

So the deficit is now looking like the population of a Caribbean island. In peak season. It's official. I chose the wrong year to shoot for one million words. Too much travel. Look at this graph:
Only 46 sleeps till Estonia and Latvia!

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