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, March 30, 2008

Status Report: Weeks Twelve and Thirteen

Based on my targets, I should be writing my 250,000th word on Tuesday 1 April.

Not likely.

[The usual slew of graphs and figures will follow, but permit me a few words to reassure myself.]

Four days in Norway put me behind the run rate for the first time, but that’s not the only reason I’m struggling at the mo.

The whole of March has, in fact, been a struggle. It’s no coincidence I started a new job at the beginning of the month, and am only now beginning to settle into a routine where I have the energy at the end of the day to write and write until I crack 3,000 words.

There’s also the general fatigue from having spent so long (91 days and counting) writing, thinking about writing, and obsessing about word counts. I would have given up long ago if it wasn’t for this blog—which is pretty much why I started it and why I mention it in all the bio notes I send to publications. I have to keep going, even if I fall horribly short, because giving up in March or May or even September looks bad to someone who googles “Craig Cliff” or “Bend Sinister Ekwilism”, or someone who reads ‘Copies’ in the Best New Zealand Fiction Volume 5 (forthcoming from Random House) and thinks, “I’d like to know more about this writer and his foolhardy quest,” -- and what they find is someone who gave up part way.

The statement at the top of this blog reveals the point of this project is not to write one million words (an arbitrary figure) but to see if it is possible. And behind all this is the fact that having a target will light the fire under me (and keep it stoked) so that I write every day, in a variety of moods, in a variety of styles (and with varying degrees of success).

I am soliloquising here. Permit me this To Write Or Not To Write moment.

It is okay to flail in 2008. To fall behind what is, I now know, a hellish pace for someone with a day job and a continent to explore, is sub-optimal, but it’s okay. My bio notes in 2009 can read: In 2008 Craig Cliff tried to write one million words, but only managed 850,633. If I give up now, there’s no way I’m going to mention a three month spurt where I wrote 238,697words.

This is not to say that I have resigned myself to falling short. I know that if I ever get the engine built for Novel B and place it on the tracks, I could crank out four to five thousand words a day. I also know that, thanks to my visa situation, there will be a month or two in the second half of the year where I will not be working. I’ll probably travel some, but I’ve learnt the value of a free day since late January, and I could make up some serious ground.

This quarter-quest crisis has helped to crystallise my real goals for the year. As mentioned above, the million words was a means to achieve other ends, though I wasn’t sure which ends I wanted to write when I devised the plan. I’ve shelved Novel A, but I have Novel B which is a total bitch to write at the moment, but I believe its worth the grief. I also think I can get a book of short stories together by the end of the year, with some serious revising, culling, and two or three new stories which strike me down in the middle of running a macro at work and appear magically a fortnight later in my “Short Story Collection” spreadsheet with the word “Completed” in the status column and highlighted yellow for inclusion in my collection (which I am calling Copies for now).

And who knows, maybe the seeds for Novel C are already sown…

Week Twelve and Thirteen – The Stats

Fortnightly word count: 25,280

Average: 1,806 words per day (compared to 2,417 in week eleven)

Most productive day: Tuesday 25 March, 3,576 words

Least productive day: Sat 22 and Sun 23 March, 8 words (noted in my journal for 8x31 story… to be completed tomorrow)

Year-to-date: 238,697

No comments: