I started May with this bright idea that I’d get Claw all neatly wrapped up inside of a month, which is one of the reasons it seemed like a prime candidate for tracking the process in front of a crowd.
In terms of the words-on-the-page level, my assessment of the time it’d take was pretty accurate; even with a handful of dead days, working on other projects, I’ve still clocked up about twenty thousand words in as many days. Sure, a whole lot of these have been cut out of the manuscript, but that’s always been part of my process. I’m a pantser, and one of the realities of that is writing far more than you ever release out into the wild.
My big problem is me: I’m rusty. My ability to gauge how long things take is at least three years out of date, predicated on having scads of free time, and I’ve written far less than usual. The novella is still on track to get done (I built some extra time into my plans, just in case); I’m still writing, still tracking, still getting Claw done.
It’s just going to take a little longer than expected – at this point I’m stretching things out to late June (which, unlike May, is busy, so I’m not expecting a daily focus on the novella) and fretting about the possibility of things going further.
And here’s my conundrum:
Two Months of Novella Dairy is a whole lot of word count tracking. It actually flies in the face of one of my few rules when it comes to this blog, which is don’t bore people to death with the minutia of writing unless it’s for a purpose.
As a one-month project the novella diary was relatively discreet. If it blows out to two months, or more, it quickly becomes an omnivorous creature that has the potential to bore the pants of all of you. So I’m looking at options. And asking for advice or preferences, since you guys are the ones who are choosing to read this (or not read this, as the case may be).
Option One: Continue the Diary to the Bitter End
I’m not inherently adverse to doing this, but I am aware that it may not be a hell of a lot of fun for people who aren’t me. I can think of reasons it’s important, not least of which is advice like this:
I like to get 1- pages a day, which amounts to 2,000 words. That’s 180,000 words over a three-month span, a goodish length for a book…on some days those ten pages come easily; I’m up and out and doing errands by eleven-thirty in the morning, perky as a rat in liverwurst. More frequently, as I grow older, I find myself eating lunch at the desk and finishing the day’s work around one-thirty in the afternoon. Sometimes, when the words come hard, I’m still fiddling around at teatime. Either way is fine with me, but only under dire circumstances do I allow myself to shut down before I get my 2,000 words. (Stephen King, On Writing)
We tend to think of writing process in very specific terms, and the sit-down-and-write-like-a-bastard approach is pretty common. I’ve got no problem with that, since it’s really useful when you’re starting out, but it’s not always practical when you’re working a dayjob (or multiple dayjobs). I tried having this kind of focus earlier in the year and it failed for me, big time, and left me feeling like something of a failure as a writer.
Having alternative models of creative process out there is important, ’cause not everyone has the opportunity or the ability to work like Stephen King. I’ve been doing this writing gig for a while, and even I’m surprised by some of the things I’ve picked up about my process as a result of the diary.
Option Two: End the Diary on May 31
This keeps the diary to the discrete month-long project that I’d originally intended and frees up the blogging space in my brain for…well, other things. This seems like the sensible option at present, but it bugs me a little ’cause I’m irritated by unfinished narratives and walking away from the diary is going to feel like leaving something half-finished.
Admittedly, even if I ended the diary, I’m going to keep tracking the act of writing the novella and trying out some different approaches to see how it influences thing. I’ll probably even post updates for people who are interested in such things, just a little more haphazardly than I started.
Option Three: Some Smart Alternative That Someone Else Comes Up With
You people are smart. Presumably there is some awesome compromise solution that’s eluding me at present, so feel free to let me know
I’m throwing these out ’cause the Diary has probably been one of the more popular things I’ve done on the blog – and, let me tell you, that caught me by surprise – and I’m not sure I have any real preferences beyond not-boring-people. If you’ve been reading along, let me know your preference and I’ll take it into consideration as we come towards the end of the month.