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12 Books in 12 Months

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12 Books in 12 Months: A Review

In November 2010 I completed National Novel Writing Month, a challenge where you have to write 50,000 words of a novel before midnight on November 30th.  From this adventure, an idea was born.

The received wisdom is that once the first draft of a novel is written, you’re supposed to leave it alone for at least three months before returning to edit – preferably longer.  Coming back to it with fresh eyes means you’re more likely to be ruthless about cutting stuff that doesn’t work.  But what do you do in the meantime?  For me, the answer was write more.  Essentially, NaNoWriMo created a monster.

In 2011, I set out to write the first draft of a novel every month of the year.  I gave each month a genre, and off I went.  It was hard going, and I only reached the hallowed 50, 000 words twice throughout the year.  But I don’t regard that as total failure, more as a lesson in what is physically possible.

Whenever I was tempted to beat myself up about it, I went back to the fact I was working four days a week as an office temp throughout the year, as well as producing monthly columns for The Broughton Spurtle and Ten Tracks, and other articles for Mslexia Magazine, IdeasTap, The Guardian and STV as I went along.  I may not have produced 50k fiction every month, but I think I probably did reach 50k across all my writing.  I blogged about this in June to serve as a constant reminder.

But what was the final word count?  Drumroll, please….

Continue reading “12 Books in 12 Months: A Review”

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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”

In Which I Discover I Am Not Superman

The night of writing dangerously was not as successful as I had hoped – although to be fair, my hopes were ill defined and woolly round the edges to begin with.  I think ideally I wanted to bash out 30,000 words and be like HAH, TAKE THAT INTERNET!!!!!  But that would have involved typing 125 words per minute every minute for the solid four hours, which was never going to happen.  Unless lack of sleep helped me evolve into Superman.

Pic from transportationnation.org

Between 2am and 6am I wrote just over 5,000 words, but I had hoped to manage more.  There again I did claim I would write from 12-12 (because it’s 12 books – clever, no?), which didn’t happen.  Had I actually done that, rather than catching up on the drafting of some STV articles and wastefully falling asleep for 2 hours, maybe I’d have got closer to achieving my unspecific catch up goal.

I think I have to resign myself to the fact that 50k will not be reached this month.

But on the plus side, the following sites are great if you’re too spaced out to concentrate, or just want to laugh.

Hyperbole and a Half

Hark, A Vagrant

Also, have you filled out the census yet?  I have!  I was sad to see there wasn’t a box for any other info into which I could put I was writing 12 books in 12 months, but I still feel it was worth my time.  For more on that, read my interview with Edinburgh-based genealogist Kirsty Wilkinson.

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!

Still Here!

Hello.

I haven’t updated in ages, for two reasons.  First of all I wasn’t writing anything for days at a time and I was too embarrassed to tell you.  Well, I was writing loads actually – there was an article about libraries, one about trying to make it as a freelance journo, and one about what it’s like trying to get into theatre directing; as well as assorted posts on my other blogs – but it none of these were my murder mystery novel.

Then last weekend, I wrote so much my hands nearly exploded.  That meant I didn’t really have time to blog, although there was some very mundane tweeting about how many words I had got down.  Between Saturday and Monday I did 23,722 words in order to catch up with my word count target.  Re-reading and editing that lot is going to be interesting…

Anyway, now that chicken sitting duties are over I have gone back to work four days a week, which I hope will help to get me into some semblance of a writing routine.  Assuming I get some suggestions for March’s Western – thus far it has been suggested that the protagonist be called Victor McGlynn, which I rather like, but other characters / plot devices / etc are still wide open.  Feel free to leave a comment below or on the facebook page if you’ve got any further ideas!

First Draft of Caligula’s Blog Complete!

In university, I had a habit of working on essays right up until the deadline, then racing along to the history department to hand in essays right as they were being removed from the box.  It would appear that, certainly when I am unemployed, I have retained this tendency, for not twenty minutes ago, right before midnight on January 31st 2011, I bashed out the last few posts of Caligula’s Blog.  I’ve written 5905 words today, and I wouldn’t advise doing that much in one sitting because now my back really hurts!

The draft is very raw, and falls short of my 50k word target, weighing in at only 33, 173 words.  However, given that I knew nothing whatsoever about the man on the 1st of the month, and most diary style books are shorter than 50k, I regard this as being fundamentally OK.  We’ll see how that changes when I come to look over it again – April at the very earliest!

41 AD
January 24th

I dreamed last night I was standing in heaven, near the throne of Jupiter.  It was very beautiful and humbling.  I was about to say something, when Jupiter gave me a push with the big toe of his right foot, and I fell right on my face.  When I woke up it turned out I had fallen out of bed, so that’s probably why that happened in the dream.

Doesn’t feel like a great start to the day, really.  Still, things can only get better now that I’m awake!  Perhaps I’ll sacrifice a couple of white bulls to the big man this afternoon though, just to be on the safe side.

Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus – or Caligula to you and me – was assassinated later that day by his own men.  His wife, Milonia Caesonia, and infant daughter Julia Drusilla were killed by members of the Praetorian Guard a few hours later.  He was succeeded by Derek Jacobi.

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