I would just like to report that since I posted this message a week ago, I have written over 20,000 words.

Apparently the fear of the Editor is the beginning of all authorial wisdom, at least for me -- or the end of my authorial dithering, at any rate. And I am especially happy to report that after slashing Chapter Six and Seven to ribbons and rebuilding the entire sequence, it is a million bazillion quadrillion times better than the redundant, unfocused mess I had before. Plus, it now has one of my favorite secondary characters bringing the awesome in a way I didn't expect, which is always a plus...

Did I mention that today we also got a cat? Because we did, and she is lovely. I will spam you with pictures of her tomorrow.
I've just finished Chapter Five of Touching Indigo, which might not sound like much at first. But since my chapters average 17-18 pages, that brings me up to approximately 23,200 words.

I'm nearly a quarter done! Woo hoo!

*shades eyes with hand, peers hopefully at the creative horizon*

There's a city shining in the distance. I can almost read the words THE END written over the gates...
After struggling with my writing for the last six months, I've come to the conclusion that even though I learned a few useful things from First Draft in 30 Days, overall it's done me a great deal more harm than good.

And this is why... )

So I'm getting off the wordcount bandwagon. From now on, my only goal is to write for at least two hours every day, and quit when I'm reasonably satisfied with what I've got, whether it's 1000 words or 500 or only 50. After all, despite what all the efficiency experts say, it's always worked for me before. I wrote my first novel There Came a Traveller (120K) in six months, the first version of Knife (85K) in eight months, and the original Darkness and Light trilogy (110K) in about a year (including the gaps between, when I wasn't even sure there would be another story let alone how long it would be). To me that proves that even if I'm "wasting" a lot of effort polishing paragraphs and scenes to a high gloss only to throw them out on the next revision, it can't be holding me back that much. So forget other people's ideas of efficiency, I'm going back to what works for me.

And there's one thing I've really been missing, the thing that has always kept me motivated and encouraged me to keep writing when I'd otherwise be tempted to slack off or quit -- but I'll save that for tomorrow's post.
Meh, but at least I'm a sixth of the way toward my goal for this week.

502 words.

I did some math today (never an easy prospect, but my friend Mr. Calculator helped me along) and worked out that if I write at least 500 words a day, six days a week, for nine months, I can write a new book within a year and still have three months left to spend on revisions.

Of course, now that I've figured that much out, the danger is that I'll stop when I've written 500 words even though I could have gone farther... but I think that once I'm really back in gear again, that won't be so likely. Ideally, I'd like to do at least 750 words a day to keep up with the [livejournal.com profile] novel_in_90 crowd... but we'll see.
One day I will be capable of writing more than 100 words an hour, but apparently not this day -- or indeed this past week.

389 words.

I did get Chapters 1-3 of Touching Indigo revised, however, after receiving many wise and helpful comments from my beta-reading team... or at least those members of the team who have turned in their comments so far. (Ahem.)

So the week was by no means wasted writing-wise, although to my chagrin I'm having just as much difficulty getting the creative juices flowing on Chapter Four as I was having with Chapter Two of Wayfarer a couple of weeks ago. Feh.
Finished Chapter Two! And did some more revisions, all of which added up to:

753 words.

However, my agent and editor have both suggested that I might be wiser to set Wayfarer aside for the moment, in case the editorial changes to Knife end up affecting my vision for the second book. And after thinking it over, I believe they're right. The chapters I've written so far shouldn't be in any great danger, but if I keep going I could very well end up with a problem further down the road.

So it looks like I'll be going back to work on Touching Indigo, and I won't have to worry that I'm being short-sighted or irresponsible in doing so. Yay!

Of course, I was just starting to get a feel for Timothy's character, and to be genuinely excited about telling his story. Isn't that always the way? But I don't think it's a bad thing to let Wayfarer ferment a bit more before I get back to it. I think revising Knife will probably give me some good ideas for the sequel as well... and I am still excited about Indigo, so it shouldn't be too hard to make the switch.
I rock. How much do I rock?

1,185 words.

And those are just the new ones -- that isn't counting all the bits I rewrote and added in to the earlier part of the chapter. I'd say that would count for at least another 300 words or so. I also got some administrative stuff done, which made me feel extra-productive.

Unfortunately, I got so wrapped up in what I was doing, I completely missed my afternoon hair appointment and had to reschedule. Oops.
Still plugging along...

789 words.

Of course, I'd just finished writing a particularly difficult scene (not that anyone besides myself will ever know it was difficult -- it's not that kind of scene) when I realized there was a much more dramatic and interesting way to handle it. Nevertheless, I put the thought aside and kept going, because I don't feel like doing that much rewriting at the moment. Farther up and farther in! At least until I've finished this chapter.
So far, so good:

755 words.

The last hundred were the hardest. I always struggle with the beginnings of scenes -- middles and endings are much easier.
Now this is more like it:

816 words.

Thanks to the always motivational [livejournal.com profile] newport2newport over at [livejournal.com profile] summer_shape_up, plus the good example of the folks at [livejournal.com profile] novel_in_90, I'm setting myself a goal for the next two days (and hopefully the next two and the next two and so on as well) of at least 750 words per day. If I can just keep up that pace long enough for it to become habit...
I usually take one day of the weekend off -- generally Sunday, but this week it was Saturday -- so:

302 words.

I think a big part of my problem is that my heart is still very much with Touching Indigo and my mind keeps gravitating to that story and characters instead. I suspect it's going to take me at least another week of hard slogging on Wayfarer before my backbrain starts spitting out stuff about teenage existential crises and faeries in peril instead of emotional repression and synaesthesia.

I also think that a bit more authorial self-discipline would help. Temptation Blocker is a wonderful program but I still have to turn it on the moment I get some writing time, instead of telling myself, "Oh, I'll just check e-mail and my f-list before I start..." and fifty minutes later I'm already tired of staring at the screen and my head is too crowded with random factoids to focus.
Erm. It's... better than yesterday's?

386 words.

Starting next week, though, I'm going to aim for at least 500 words a day. Which still seems absurdly low to me, but it'll still be better than my current average.
Well, you all know what gang aft agley. My toddler has a mild sinus infection, and was feverish and clingy this morning, which made me think farming him out was Not The Best Idea after all. So all that really happened on the writing front today was a nice update call from my agent (who is fantastic about keeping in touch, I must say!), some more editing, and ultimately a mere

289 words.

I know what major things have to happen in this chapter. I'm just finding myself uninspired when it comes to drawing the lines in between.

And this leads me to something I've been fretting about for a while, so I may as well come clean (gulp!).

Lately I keep hearing other authors talk about how they get carried away as they're working on a story, how particular scenes and characters get into their heads and won't let go. There's even a discussion on one of the writers' boards I frequent about how best to extract oneself from the emotional undertow after writing some particularly moving or harrowing scene.

I used to feel that way, when I was single and could write pretty much whenever I wanted. I would shut myself in my room, listen to favorite songs on my Walkman, and hammer out page after page, caught up in the urgency of the story. Sometimes I would giggle over what I was writing; sometimes I would get misty-eyed; sometimes I would feel my characters' frustration and be crabby for some time afterward. It didn't always happen, but it happened often enough.

Now it never happens.

I can't write with music on these days. I find it too distracting. There are two periods during the day of about 1.5 hours each when I'm free to write, and even those times tend to be full of interruptions. I used to read most books -- even long ones -- in one or two sittings; but now it takes me fifteen or twenty. When it comes to immersing myself in an invented world and being caught up in the lives of its characters, I can barely do justice to other people's books, let alone the ones I'm writing.

And yet I know I'm not alone in this, and I feel sure that powerful, emotionally resonant stories have been written by authors in much the same situation -- people who for one reason or another just couldn't do the Method Acting thing. Maybe because, like me, they have young children or other needy family members to look after; or maybe because their brains just aren't wired that way, and they find it more natural to cook up a story intellectually than live it vicariously.

I would like to hear about (or even better, from) those people. Please?
*hangs head in shame*

0 words.

I know, I know, this ought not to be. However, tomorrow I am going to drive all the kids over to my in-laws' farm for the day, and before I even leave, I am setting Temptation Blocker to lock me out of the Internet for eight hours. And if I don't get anything written in that time, even with a dead-peaceful house and no distractions, then you should all mock me. Ruthlessly.

On a brighter note, the new Cock Robin album is dead brilliant. I've had "I Don't Want To Save The World" on near-constant repeat for the last 24 hours, and I'm looking forward to getting better acquainted with the other tracks on the CD.
Not very impressive today, but I plead more editing of Chapter One, some visiting relatives and a restless older child:

325 words.

I keep telling myself that there will be days ahead where I am caught up in the story and churning out words by the hundreds -- but I fear those days are not likely to come until the kids are back in school. At which point I will probably have to put Wayfarer aside in any case and work on the revisions for Knife, but ah well.
Mostly editing today -- I cut the last few paragraphs I'd written on Chapter One of Wayfarer, and substituted a more subtle ending in their place. So:

449 words.

Now on to Chapter Two!
Edits. Many, many edits. And some words, 828 to be exact. Of which 523 of those were written today.

And now Chapter Three is DONE.

*is enormously relieved, and finally happy with it as well*
This is the chapter that never ends / it just goes on and on aaaaarrgggh *beats head against desk*

391 words.

Make it stop!
More edits, more uncertainty. Is this chapter as boring as I think it is? Or am I merely impatient because I'm waiting for my favorite character to show up? Only time and my intrepid betas will tell.

589 words.

Can I finish it tomorrow? Probably, if I can figure out how to end the chapter just right.
Mostly editing today... I'm still not quite happy with this chapter. So, not counting the 500 or so other words I wrote and then deleted:

492 words.

Fortunately, the end is near, and then I'm into a whole new section of the book, which I'm quite looking forward to...

...or would be, if I didn't have to get back to Wayfarer instead. *facepalm* I'd almost forgotten that.


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