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12 Books in 12 Months

writing books and blogging about it

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Not-Quite-Half-Way Evaluation

Last night at around 11.15pm I decided that it was time to call it quits on book five and get myself some sleep.  I battered out a few paragraphs to remind myself what I wanted the last couple of chapters to entail, and set about organising my packed lunch for work.  Tuna salad, for those who are nosey about such things…

The word count stands at 30323, and I think it’ll end end up around 36,000 by the time the first draft is finished.  This means that overall this year, I’ve written 165,585 words of fiction across 151 days.  That averages out at 1096.6 words per day, although there have been days when I haven’t written anything at all, and a few when I’ve done 10k in one go.  Averages, dear reader, are relative.

Continue reading “Not-Quite-Half-Way Evaluation”

Be Part of this Blog

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
benedict_cumberchild@domainname.net

Ali,

12 books in 12 months?  Are you mental?

Kind Regards,

BC

Monday 25/4/11 16:22
ali.george85@yahoo.com

Dear BC,

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.

Ali

Tuesday 26/4/11 13:15
benedict_cumberchild@domainname.net

Ali,

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?

BC

ali.george85@yahoo.com
Tuesday 26/4/11 22:05

BC,

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…

Ali

Wednesday 27/4/11 09:01
benedict_cumberchild@domainname.net

OK, so what happens if you don’t get any of them published?  And what is the deal with word counts?

BC

Wednesday 27/4/11 12:45
ali.george85@yahoo.com

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.

Ali

Thursday 28/4/11 00:14
benedict_cumberchild@domainname.net

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.

BC

Thursday 28/4/11 07:45
ali.george85@yahoo.com

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.

Ali

Friday 29/4/11 16:50
benedict_cumberchild@domainname.net

Sounds like a lot to take on board.  So how will you spend your Friday night?  Writing?

BC

Friday 29/4/11 18:00
ali.george85@yahoo.com

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.

Ali

Or something along those lines.  If you would like to play the part of BC, email ali.george85@yahoo.com, 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.

Confession

You may have guessed from the comparative blog silence that book 3 has been going pretty slowly.

I am currently out of the house at my temp job between 7.30 and 5.30 Tuesday-Friday, which gives me evenings, weekends and Mondays for this and other stuff.  Unfortunately I am juggling a bit more of the other stuff than usual at the moment.

For instance,  I said to STV Local “sure, I’ll profile all 21 bands involved in the Sick Kids Charity CD I wrote about for you” – which means setting up interviews with 21 bands, and trying to ask them all slightly different questions so that all the articles don’t wind up being the same. This means quite a bit of prep, and of course it takes time to write these things up.

I had another article commissioned by IdeasTap too, but the interviewee is very busy and hasn’t had time to answer my second round of questions – so essentially I can only file when there’s a gap in her schedule, which almost certainly won’t coincide with gaps in mine.

I’m also supposed to be setting up weekly Ten Tracks blogposts, which will hopefully get done today, and likewise I think I’m overdue a Mslexia update (although the onus is on me – there’s no set pattern agreed for those).  I’m also awaiting the answers from an email interview for an article for The Edinburgh Reporter, and need to send out some more for a different article I’d intended to have done for this week.

I’ve blown off several social events to give myself writing time, but it hasn’t been enough.  I think that logically, sleep now has to go!

Today being Monday 21st, if I was sticking in any way to the 2k daily word target I should be on 42, 000 words – barely any to go before 50k.  As it is, my word count is 8, 519.

If I can bash out 3,771 words a day between now and the end of the month it’ll be fine – theoretically that should only take a couple of hours because I know what I’m doing with the story and when I’m in the zone I type pretty fast.  But where to find those daily 2-3 hours?  In evenings this week I have at least 3 face to face interviews to do, which means travelling to various bits of Edinburgh, so maybe I can get some done on the bus – depending how much interview prep I’ve managed to get through already.  And I can do some in my lunch breaks, I guess.

I’ve also got to go to a gig on Thursday, because most of the bands I need to catch up with will be there; and a cocktail party on Friday because several people I blew off last weekend will be there and I can’t do it again.  The point of this project is universal adulation, not pissing off all my friends and acquaintances…

So anyway, I’m finding it a bit hard to get book-writing time shoehorned into my schedule just now (and don’t even get me started on reading time, because it makes me feel sad), but I’m going to schedule a few #WIP type posts from the meagre amount I do have for this week so that I don’t leave you hanging.  Next weekend I think there’s going to have to be a night of writing dangerously.

Also, if anyone has any thoughts on how to pre-empt the intevitable RSI that my writing lifestyle is surely going to cause before the end of 2011, do leave a comment!

The Social Network

Yesterday I dedicated a not inconsiderable amount of time to attempting to get the 12 Books in 12 Months Facebook page more ‘likes’ – 100 by 10pm, as a matter of fact.  I failed.

However, some nice people did help out, and I think you should check out their work to help me say thanks.

Props to my lovely retweeters:

– Kirsty Wilkinson is an Edinburgh-based genealogist.  She runs her own business called My Ain Folk, and if you are looking to find out about your family tree, she can almost certainly help.  Her blog, The Professional Descendant, covers all kinds of information about genealogy and family history, and of course you can also follow her on twitter.

– Emma Livingstone is studying for an MA in publishing at the University of the Arts in London.  She blogs about publishing, arts, music and culture here, and you can also follow her on twitter.  And if you’re good, maybe one day she’ll help you get your book published…

– Sam Kurd is a writer and philosopher who reviews sci-fi and fantasy games, books and telly for places like Den of Geek, Sci-Fi Heaven and  Cirque Des Geeks.  He has also recently started work on a film script.  Follow him on the twitter too.

And thanks to the people who helped me get from 85 to a more respectable 97 – Rab, Ian, Rachel, Juliet (aka The Crafty Green Poet), Bob, Alastair (overlord of STV Local North Edinburgh and Greener Leith), Emily (Jewellery Designer), Caro, Ellen (St Andrews Uni DoSDA contender 2011/12) and Cougar.  If any of you want any links publicizing, let me know!

I appreciate that Facebook is deeply annoying in a lot of respects, but social networking feels like a pretty crucial part of getting this project into the public domain and that makes it a necessary evil.  So please keep liking the 12 Books page and spreading the word through the power of stalkerfeed!  Books 4-12 will thank you!

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