Thursday, July 14, 2011

It's Always About That

I've had the craziest deadline for my next novel, Kingdom of Strangers. I mean CRAZY. And actually, I love it. Aside from doubling my caffeine intake and Twitter usage, and halving my sleep, it has prompted me to marvel at just how much quality writing can be accomplished when you put your mind to it. I'm a frickin commando! Already I am fantasizing about writing six more novels this year. And then of course I wake up.

Fittingly, I stumbled on this post by epicblackcar which asks the question: why does writing take so damned long? Because even when you're churning out 4,000 words a day, it still Takes. So. Damned. Long.

Here are the facts: If a novelist writes one novel a year, that comes to about 2,000 words a week. However, most novelists - I know I do - write about 2,000 words a day. So holy shit, people! Where did all those extra words go? That'd be roughly 400,000 words you wrote down the toilet. And that's just in one year. I've been writing for ten!

Epicblackcar suggests, in his second post on the topic, that our primary failing is structure. If we knew exactly what we were going to write, we would write it. But we're more like construction workers who gleefully build a set of stairs, and then realize it leads nowhere. (I encourage you to read his post. It's epic.) I agree that a lot of the slowness comes from the disability we all have to keep the contents of an entire novel in your head all at once. And the fact that you can certainly get carried away.

I also think it's more than that. There's some rhythm involved in how much you write and how quickly you create scenes, something deep and penetrating and psychological and mysterious, and you can surely change the rhythm, but you must respect that there is a rhythm and that it is biological. Writing is like any other bodily function. If you're not in the mood, then doing it can usually put you in the mood, but sometimes not. And don't be silly, you can't do it ALL the time. You'll get chapped. And of course if someone tries to critique your performance, they'd better be kind and loving and wise or you'll never really forgive them, even if they make you something to be proud of.

Anyway, back to my 2,000 words.

1 comment:

  1. Zoe the Ferraris,

    Thanks for writing this -- IT IS IMPORTANT -- and for mentioning my silly blog.