It’s the end of the month as we know it, and I feel fine, save for the soreness in my legs. Too much time on my feet, too much time laying on a bed that hurting my calves for some reason. Or maybe it’s me: maybe my weight is pressing down on my lower extremities and causing problems.
Last year this time I was lamenting over writers, people who usually make things up for a living, being unable to make up the names of towns and people. I read this post over last night, and was struck by the fact that most of the people who I’d written about don’t seen to write these days. When I joined a few writing groups on Facebook back in 2011, it seemed as if there were hundreds of people posting about what they were going to write, what they were writing–and then, how they couldn’t finish what they started.
Today, those same groups seem to be inhabited by a few dozen hard core members, and a few dozen more people who flit in and out when they decided to pick up their book and get back into The Great and Not So Loving Game.
Writing wears you out. I managed to edit two chapters of Replacements last night, maybe twenty-seven hundred words total, and when I was finished I wanted to write something new, but couldn’t. I was starting to nod at the computer, and trying to crank out anything that would have made sense wouldn’t have made sense at all.
In his March 30 blog post, Neil Gaiman offered a few simple words for writers: “Write. Finish Things. Keep Writing.” Sure, you’re thinking, “That’s easy for you to say, Mr. Last Cybermen!”, but at one time he was just like everyone else, working hard to get into the biz. He’s now in the biz, and he still works hard, only now he does it full time, whereas most of us need another job to play the bills.
My biggest problem was always finishing things. I’d jump into a story with both feet, burn through ten, twenty thousand words, and then–nada. I’d get disappointed, depressed, defeated: the story before me had to be crap, so why bother? It’s not like anyone’s going to read it . . .
I’d say that’s a mindset that it not just unique to me; I’m almost certain there are others out there who end up feeling the same way. I even get that feeling still, only it starts kicking in about forty-five thousand words into a novel, and it screws with me until I’m about ten to fifteen thousand words from the finish line.
And then I find the strength to make my way to “The End”.
I’ve told people I know that one of the reasons I keep a blog, one of the reasons I write every day whether or not I have anything interesting to say, is that it keeps me thinking, it keeps the mind going, it keeps me writing. Without it I might not ever bother pulling out a manuscript and doing anything with it, and just become another of those left by the Writing Wayside. That’s not completely true, but I do feel as if my blog keeps me anchored and focused on my goal of becoming a full-time writer.
Back on December 1 I detailed what I’d written up to that point over the course of a year and change. At that point, with everything from the end of 2011, and all over 2012, I’d calculated I’d written approximately 568,000 words. What I should say is that I wrote and finished that much, because I don’t consider the story worthwhile if I haven’t finished it. During 2012 I started a story for someone, got about five thousand words into it, and then put it away, because what I was writing wasn’t me; the story didn’t feel right. And to have went on would have meant doing something that I wasn’t going to enjoy, or take from the work any pride.
Since I wrote that last post I’ve written another novel, and blogged every day. Suggestive Amusements ended up running just over seventy-one thousand words, while the blog has averaged about five hundred fifty words a day for 121 day, or right at sixty-six thousand, five hundred fifty words. Add all that up, and at the end of Q1 (the First Quarter of the year, as we call it in the business world), I’ve another 137,550 finished words added to my total.
Plug in the numbers from before 1 December, 2012, and we have a new total: 705,550 words. Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!
Yes, there is marketing and editing and getting a great book cover, but the above is the real heart of the issue: writing and finishing. You wanna walk that walk, you gotta do diligence.
You gotta write; you gotta finish; you gotta write some more.
Which reminds me–
I got some writing to do.