Monday, March 22nd, 2010 • 5 Comments on Words
If you are on Facebook or Twitter and you are a writer—or travel in circles that include writers—you will often see posts about writing. Especially in the morning. My morning Facebook newsfeed is a scrolling to-do list of all the writers in my community.
Going to finish chapter three this morning.
Finishing the first draft of my novel today.
Plan to write three scenes before I pick the kids up at school.
These proclamations are often followed by the insistence that caffeine is needed to meet aforementioned goals.
Hours pass, frequently punctuated by updates from the procrastinators (such updates will include complaints about the caffeine not kicking in, links to LOLcats and the writer’s current musical accompaniment), less so by the nose-to-the-grindstone writers who might only check in during a lunch break to say that progress is being made.
Finally, at the end of the day (which may be five o’clock for some writers, midnight for others) or the next morning, pre-coffee, many of these writers will boast their accomplishments for the day, often including word counts.
It can be disheartening for a writer who has been hobbling along just trying to keep up with the baby thank yous to read these daily updates. It can also be inspiring.
Last Tuesday, I joined the ranks of writers checking in for the day with my own goal:
Kristina Wright hates it when the end of a story is so clear… but there are 2000 words between here and there.
Of course, I was checking in at almost 3 o’clock in the afternoon, but still. I was referring to a story that had been bouncing around in my brain for a couple of weeks. (My Jakob Dylan inspired story.) A story that I expected to come in at around 2500 words, when (if) I managed to finish it. A story that I had only managed to write about 700 words of—700 words that had taken two or three days of writing to accomplish. Two thousand words seemed an impossible goal and I didn’t even bother to say in my update that I was actually intending to make the goal. It was a throwaway comment. And then the hours passed and the only update I posed was the picture below of Patrick. I was writing at Starbucks until 4 that day, then I was home with baby and writing during his naps. Then he went to bed and I wrote for a couple more hours. And then I posted this at almost midnight:
Kristina Wright wrote 3835 words today. That’s a post-baby record x 4.
You could have knocked me over with a feather that night. (As much from exhaustion as surprise, I’m afraid.)
The story that I envisioned as 2500 words came in at over 4700. The title came last—“Here in Between”—and seemed fitting enough for a writer who was trying to bridge that gap between new mom and rusty writer trying to find her way back. (It’s also from the lyrics of the Wallflowers song One Headlight that I posted a couple of weeks ago.) This is my first story after baby and I like it. A lot. Thanks to a deadline extension, it was sent off to Rachel Kramer Bussel for consideration in her Passionate anthology. Whether it makes the cut or not, it’s the story that brought me back to writing in a flood of words and imagery.
My 3835 words for the day (which ended up being my writing total for the week, as well) is pretty measly compared to some of the authors in my circle who regularly turn out twice that on a daily basis. One writer very nonchalantly posted a 8,900 word count recently—and though I don’t know her personally, I sensed it wasn’t an unusual occurence. I think it was the lack of exclamation points, stars and capital letters that suggested a familiarity with high daily totals. But I’m still proud of those words and proud of the story that they became. Maybe announcing how many words I needed to write gave me the motivation to actually write them—and then some. Who knows?
The most amazing thing about the writing is that once I started, once I really put my heart into feeling it and not just relating it, the words came easy.