Not quite the year of a million words
I gave my editor a status report on THE NOVEL today. In the interests of sticking to the intent of this blog to open the door every now and then on the creative process AND not wasting too much time blogging when I should be working on THE NOVEL, I hereby cut and paste portions of my status update for the world to see (and hold against me when I miss my deadlines):
Things are going reasonably well.Bonus content for blog readers: In July I wrote 12,000 words on the novel. In addition to this I wrote a 6,000 story (from scratch to submission) set in the present day (my helicopter story); three columns for the Dominion Post; a fifteen minute speech about basketball and fiction for Brooklyn School’s appetites evening; and wrote and/or revised several poems.
Early on I had a bit of trouble finding a way to incorporate a modern voice / perspective into what is, on the face of it, an historical account. But I've found a way to do this now by having a framing story which is set in the present day.
I'm now 20,000 words in (revising as I go, so it's a pretty polished 20k) and building up steam every week.
Working two days a week is going really well and the next three months are relatively clear of commitments (aside from Melbourne and Going West writers fests in Sept; but that's just 2 weekends out of action).
So, unforeseen roadblocks notwithstanding, I should have between 70 and 80,000 words by the start of November. The question is whether 70-80k will represent a finished draft, or if the novel will be a bit longer (it won't be War and Peace or anything). As I get further into the next section, I should have a clearer idea of the shape.
It might seem a bit optimistic to go from writing 20k in the last two & a bit months to 60k in the next three months, but the first 20k are always the hardest.
I don’t intend to write any more short stories in the next three months, so there are 6,000 more words that can be transferred to novel-writing per month. Keeping up a pace of 18,000 words a month for three months would seem achievable.
Excuse me while I knock on every piece of wood in my flat…
Speaking of Melbourne
The programme/program is now online for the Melbourne Writers Festival. I'm doing a reading with a bunch of other writers at 10am on Sunday 4 September (the last day of the festival; hopefully festival fatigue has come and gone and everyone's on their second winds!). After a quick break, I'm appearing in the session New NZ Fiction with Eleanor Catton, chaired by Sue Green (Lower North Islandians may have seen her profile of Stephen Daisley -- another MWF2011 guest -- in Your Weekend on Saturday...).
There are some big names slated to appear in Melbourne, the biggest perhaps being Jonathan Franzen. I read Freedom over Easter and described it as a good-to-great novel. Sadly he's appearing in the festival's first weekend, while I'm only there for the second weekend.
There's also a syndicate of big name crime writers - Lynda La Plante, Michael Robotham, Tess Gerritsen, Peter Temple. Other highlights include Shaun Tan, Craig Sherborne and Don Watson (to pick three odd amigos), while there are a few 'big names' in the programme that are a bit misleading. There's a Katie Holmes, but it's not one half of TomKat. And there's a Dennis Glover, who is not, unsurprisingly, the deceased NZ poet (yes, I know our Denis had only one 'n').