Saturday, May 14, 2011

The tyranny of the word count

You have a contract to write a book. Some writers would argue that is a good thing. And, it is good to have a contract but NOT having a contract means a lot of other things like: finish the novel when it's finished; write it as long as it needs to be written; no one is depending on you - hell, no one even knows you're writing something. There's freedom in that.

You have a contract to write a book and with that will be a deadline. Deadlines are good - don't get me wrong. I do deadlines: your essays are due Monday; reports are to be written by Friday. Kind of thing.

How it affects me is in the rewriting stage. The word count sits in judgment on the lower left side of my screen. Whenever I go 'what the.... This is rubbish' and DELETE the word counts goes down and my anxiety goes up. Sure, it's better writing but now I'm going to have to make it up at the other end. Dammit.

How it affects me in the day to day: well - day and night is currently merging into grab sleep when I can, nod to understanding family and students and hope that no one notices I didn't check I had lipstick on my teeth before I started teaching period one.

Finally, it affects me, this contract thingy because it affects others: my publisher, my agent, my editor, my readers.

Writing isn't fun. Ohh, no way. Don't even go there. Or perhaps go here to read Libba Bray's account of writing a novel. It's so true.

So why on earth do we do it? I won't speak for other writers but for me it's to get the story out of my head: the conversations, arguments, graphic and wonderful scenes. All gone.

Oh and because I hope to one day become stinking rich.

How am I tackling this particular stage of my writing career? I am Making! MAKING! myself write every single day. Day or night - don't care. I am putting words down because, in the end, that's the only way the story is going to be told - with all its dramas and heartaches (and there are plenty) we will, by the end, find out what happens to Fleance, Rosie and Rachel.


Ross Calverley said...

About that becoming stinking rich, I have contributed by buying Bloodlines. Really looking foward to reading it!

TK Roxborogh said...

most impressed (and pleased) Ross especially as you are a poor uni student. Mackenna declared it a much better read.

Vanda Symon said...

Libba's blog is pure gold. I laughed myself silly!