Thursday, February 23, 2012

21,291 words

I've mentioned a few times before that I am writing a book at the moment. I should probably clarify and say that I am actually writing it now. Well, not right now. This is a blog post. So, in fact, I am not writing a book at the moment. Or, maybe I am. You can take as assurance that this blog post is no longer being written by the fact you are now reading it. So, perhaps I am, indeed, writing my book right now, at this very second. Or perhaps I'm not. Such is the mystery and wonder of life.

What I mean, of course, is that in the present stretch of days and weeks and months I am occasionally writing, and, more often than not, those occasions are directed toward the accumulation of words and paragraphs that will one day comprise a book, which, hopefully, one day you will buy. When I say that I am actually writing it, what I mean is that I am not just saying that I'm writing a book. The latter activity seems to be an important part of my writing process. Before writing a book, I must spend roughly a year or more telling people that I am writing a book.

Now, though, I've moved beyond that stage to the utterly exciting part in which I sit in front of my laptop for hours and hours, feeling my shoulders and neck go all tight, tapping out word after word that I will later probably hate and end up deleting. Another requisite facet of my writing process is that I must be unhappy with everything I do.

Really, when you think about it, writing is a terrible career choice. I earn almost no money off it and it makes me want to throw myself in front of buses. Not really, though, because buses hurt. Sitting in front of a laptop all the time makes me rather fragile; the last thing I want is sweet release via bus. Unless it's a bus made of pillows.

A bus made of pillows would be awesome. I would totally throw myself in front of that. It probably wouldn't kill me, though. It'd just pick me up, and aboard would be Boris Johnson serving pancakes and it would be a really great time. Then I would return home and become blindingly angry at myself for having wasted the day eating pancakes with the mayor of London on a pillow bus when I should have been writing my damned book.

It's been more than two years since I last completed a book (I wrote 20,000 words of a Welsh-language novel in 2010, deleted them all, wrote 20,000 more and then decided I didn't really want to write in Welsh anymore) and that space of time seems to annoy the hell out of me. I wake up frustrated at the fact that, although, I am writing a book at the moment I am not writing a book at that moment. I slip into highly unproductive rages at the fact I have been so unproductive.

In an effort to make myself feel just a tiny bit better I like to keep track of how things are going. Ah, the good ol' word count: I assuage my self-doubt by equalling quantity with quality. So, right now I've managed to string together 21,291 words for my book -- those in addition to all the words in its title: Tales of a Toffee-Covered Llama: How the Tiny Nation of Wales Crushed My Dreams and Robbed Me of My Will to Live.

I can't decide whether 21,000 is a lot of words. Before the start of the year I had roughly 5,000 words lingering on my laptop. I had slapped those together for the sake of being able to apply for a writing grant, back in October (I didn't get it). My goal is something in the 70,000 range. At this rate, that would mean completing a rough draft some time in September/October of this year. I find that to be a disappointing rate of progress.

In truth, I want the book to have been written already. I am upset at all I have not done since a stretch in 2009-2010 when I was, I feel, writing pretty well. And I am frustrated that I have nothing to put forward to try to sell. I mentioned before that I, ridiculously, feel more likely to publish a book than get a job.

So, in an effort to push myself more I am putting my word count on my blog. I don't actually understand how this helps, but it does. It makes it official: I am writing a book -- 21,291 words of which are already written -- and I intend to keep doing so.


Anonymous said...

I look forward to buying and reading it.

Elimare said...

woohoo! looking forward to reading it (and buying of course!)

Curly said...

Huw, can I borrow when you've finished? I won't dog-ear the pages.