Thursday, 11 April 2013

How many words per day?

Over the years, I've collected rumours about how much writers write. I used to think this was for inspiration. So, what has inspired me? In 'On Writing', Stephen King says he writes 2000 words a day so (get this) completes an 180,000 word novel in THREE MONTHS. I was at the Brisbane Writers Festival in the early noughties (or maybe the late nineties) where Matthew Reilly (on a panel with Kim Wilkins who writes so many books she needs two selves and is also Kimberley Freeman)... anyway, Reilly said sometimes he writes more than 9000 words a day when he nears the end of a novel. But, he added, he wasn't exactly writing anything literary so didn't need to worry about characters.

I haven't read any Reilly but King does (ahem) the odd memorable character and Freeman/Wilkins is frankly pretty amazing. And a writer who really worries about characters (or, if 'worries' isn't the right word, someone who creates truly authentic, memorable characters) is Joyce Carol Oates, who apparently writes from 8-1 every day and in that time has quite possibly written more books than I've read.

I'm in my forties and have published one novel, word count about 60,000 words. I've been writing all my life, so (leaving out the unpublished stuff under my metaphorical mattress i.e. on my hard drive) that's 1.5 words per day. One of my literature lecturers once said that Ernest Hemmingway wrote 500 words a day, so he could concentrate on quality. I write 1.5 words per day, so I can concentrate on deciding whether or not to get my hair recoloured, on whether the calories in a piece of cheese are worth it, on what to wear out on Friday, on Facebook, and on picking off bits of nail polish.

On a positive note, today I've written 600, which is well above average. Even more if blog posts count. If I ever meet Stephen King, I'll have to ask.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

A morning in the writing life of an anxiety-struck second novel novelist.

This morning, I planned to work on my WIP. So far, instead, I have:

1. read a chapter in "Writing 21st Century Fiction";
2. showered;
3. considered creating a blog post concerning why my thoughts seem to be coming out in lists;
4. created, instead, an unpublishable blog post about plotting or pantsing, during which I (mostly) discouraged myself with the reminder that it's very possible to fail at either;
5. created a mental list of possible titles for my WIP (ranging from 'Burned' to 'Strawberry Jam and the Homesick Soul'--my attempt at the worst possible title, because after that, the right one will sound right... right?);
5. written, as an exercise, a paragraph of my WIP in which the action takes place completely in reverse (thank you, Martin Amis, for ''Time's Arrow");
6. replaced all my original commas in this post with semi-colons;
7. stared out the window at my view of hills, pock-marked with new housing development, and wondered about the death of the semi-colon; and
8. rehung my collection of cardigans so that all like-colours are grouped together.

Thus does 'Strawberry Jam and the Homesick Soul' come to life. Or not. Meanwhile, life will be a lot easier next time I'm wondering where all my yellow cardigans are.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Dear blog, it's me again!

I just realised you must be wondering what I've been up to, where I've been. I might get into more detail later, particularly if I can't think of anything new to write. Meanwhile, here's a tidbit.
Varanassi, India. New Year's Eve 2012/13.

Hello blog!

I've been 

1. thinking that I really should get into this blogging, and
2. wondering if you will help my writing, or
3. end up consuming too much time, and
4. thinking, again, I should give you a go, and
5. wondering how on earth to track down my old password, and yet

here I am.

Wish you could let me know a bit more about yourself, but hopefully I'll learn something over the next little while. Meanwhile, it's nice being back in touch. I'll try not to be such a stranger.