I have had an idea to make this process a little more interactive, but in order for it to work I need the help of YOU, The Public.
Do you have a spare 15-30 minutes a day?
Would you be able to dedicate those minutes to sending me a short email asking about 12 Books in 12 Months? Perhaps you have a passing interest in the writing process, where I get my inspiration, this month’s genre, or how I wear my hat?
I would like one guest emailer a week to enter into a correspondence. They email me a query or a challenge, I email back, and so on – then the resulting dialogue goes onto the blog for all to see, alongside any links or promotions the other party wishes to promote.
(For those in the know, this is essentially the same premise as The Writer’s Tale, but with several Ben Cooks playing opposite my Russel T Davies, and no publishing deal immediately obvious.)
Here is an example of what I mean:
Monday 25/4/11 10:53
12 books in 12 months? Are you mental?
Monday 25/4/11 16:22
No, I am not mental. I have been writing books and stories since I was a tot, because I find it fun. I can see how writing a book a month for a year might make it less fun, because it’s an awful lot of words and takes over a large amount of time. However, I am very consciously not editing as I go because there isn’t time, and since editing is probably the hardest part of the writing process, that helps relieve stress.
I’m also changing genre every month so that I don’t get bored. And I am accepting challenges and suggestions from You The Public to incorporate into each book, which keeps it fun and a bit different.
Tuesday 26/4/11 13:15
I read on the blog that the fact you aren’t editing as you go is the reason why you aren’t making the books available for us to see at the end of each month. That’s fine, but how do we know you’re actually writing them at all?
Tuesday 26/4/11 22:05
That is one part of the reason – as you can see from my first novel, published in all its original draft glory, it’s engaging in parts but occasionally loses the plot a bit. Well, a lot. But there is also the point that as part of book 13, The One About Writing Twelve Books in Twelve Months, I am going to include stuff about the editing process, and trying to get publishers and agents interested. I’m also going to have a bash at self publishing one of them. Something tells me that nobody will want to buy them if they’re already available for free download.
In response to the ‘how do we know you’re writing them at all question’ – ask my partner and friends how many times I’ve said no to social engagements ‘because I’ve got to get some writing done’ over the past few months! You can also regularly read and hear excerpts of the work in progress on the blog. Plus, if I was faking, I’d probably come up with slightly more impressive word counts…
Wednesday 27/4/11 09:01
OK, so what happens if you don’t get any of them published? And what is the deal with word counts?
Wednesday 27/4/11 12:45
If I don’t get any of them published, the edited versions will be made available for free download, hopefully at some point next year – although the editing process takes a lot longer than initially bashing out the first draft so I can’t give you any exact dates as yet.
As to word count, the general aim is to try and reach 50, 000 words per month. This is based on the target set by National Novel Writing month. It’s about the length of a comparatively short paperback – think in terms of the early Darren Shan books. I read somewhere on the internet that the average first novel is around 72,000 words – books thicker than that are harder to get published if you are a first time author because retailers are concerned they won’t be able to shift you as a relative unknown, and their shelf space is valuable. However, I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t reach 50k because frankly, I have a lot of other stuff going on.
Thursday 28/4/11 00:14
What stuff do you have going on? Surely nobody has time to do a project like this and also maintain a life? I would love to write a book one day, but I know that realistically I don’t have the time.
Thursday 28/4/11 07:45
I work 4 days a week and in the other 3 am trying to build up a career as a freelance journo, which involves a lot of pitching articles to editors and volunteering my services at websites including The Edinburgh Reporter, STV Local, IdeasTap, IWeTwoThree and others listed here. I also volunteer for a music website called Ten Tracks, doing the blog, ad hoc admin and occasionally helping on the door at gigs.
Generally speaking the thing that suffers as a result of all this is my sleeping pattern. However, I regard it as being worth it on the grounds that if I can build a name as a freelance, the 4 days a week currently spent temping can gradually become 3, then 2, and one day I might even be able to cover my rent and bills through writing alone – be it fiction, journalism, or a mixture of the two. It’s not as if I have more time than other people, it’s more a question of what I choose to do with it.
Friday 29/4/11 16:50
Sounds like a lot to take on board. So how will you spend your Friday night? Writing?
Friday 29/4/11 18:00
Maybe. Sometimes I’ll combine socializing with journalism, eg I’ll go to a gig or whatever and then write it up for a website. It’s weird, journalism is almost a form of procrastination before doing 12 books now. It’s quicker to conduct a phone interview and type it up than to write a book, after all – and there are deadlines on articles, whereas the books are done as a personal choice. Then there’s blogging, which is the form of procrastination that comes before journalism. On weeks where my personal blog has been updated every day, there’s a possibility that there was an article I should have been writing that I left to the last minute.
Having said that, I do try to have at least one relaxing evening at the weekend. I think I’d go a bit nuts otherwise.
Or something along those lines. If you would like to play the part of BC, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or drop me a comment either here or on the Facebook page.
Emails can be as long or as short as you like and you can ask me anything at all – although I reserve the right to ignore anything inappropriate and am unlikely to respond to Nigerian princes who want to deposit $1 million in my bank account. I’ve been burned before.
April 25, 2011 at 4:47 pm
I read on the blog that you are shamelessly trying to spin out more books than Sir Terry of Pratchett. For someone that’s spent many a year dreaming of writing an epic fantasy novel, yet produced less than diddly squat, I’m wondering how you get going with the process each time you start a new book.
I’ve read lots of different guides on how to get started writing, but everything I read says to start by planning the plot, or the characters. I’ve tried both and failed – horribly. The planning really bores me – like reading the Silmarillion – it’s dry and dusty and it takes forever. I really want to just spew out the random jumble of words in my head and weave them into a story as I go, but everything I read says ‘no! bad dog! Start by planning, plot, characters, themes, snore, snore, snore, ya-de-ya – have a biscuit’. I probably shouldn’t look for guidance in dog books…
I was wondering then, how do you plan your writing. Do you do anything to keep the planning side of things interesting or do you just leap right in and start writing? How do you make the actual writing process itself fun so that it’s not a chore to sit down and churn out 2000 words in a day? Any thoughts?
April 25, 2011 at 7:08 pm
Thanks for your comment – I shall dedicate a post to this tomorrow!
April 25, 2011 at 5:17 pm
e-mail sent! Looking forward to taking part.
April 25, 2011 at 7:15 pm
Brilliant, I have emailed back (and subscribed to your blog!)
April 26, 2011 at 7:04 pm
I’m bursting with questions. This is fascinating. When can I start!
April 26, 2011 at 7:34 pm
You can start whenever you like, and continue as long as it’s interesting to you… I will email you back as and when you email me, but may not post them on the blog right away.