Well, not really final, but still. When I started this blog 10 weeks ago, my word count was 36,594. I ended up dividing the 10 weeks into a block of six, during which I was writing new material and discovering the story, and a block of four, during which I was focusing more on rewriting and looking at structure. So for the first six weeks, I kept track of the word count, and for the last four, I focused more on the time spent at my desk. So here’s how it added up:
In the first six weeks, I wrote just over 41,000 ‘new’ words. This total doesn’t include words added while editing/rewriting. But I also cut around 16,000 words. Again, this total doesn’t include smaller cuts. The current word count is 68, 252.
Over the last four weeks, during which I’ve been measuring time spent working on the novel (that’s time spent actually at my desk, so not counting the hours I think about it while cooking meals, walking the dog, etc) I’ve spent at least 74 hours at my desk, working on my novel.
As every author knows, an important part of the working day is the point, usually before coffee but after checking emails, watching funny videos on Facebook and chatting on Twitter, when you look up your latest Amazon reviews. No? You mean it’s just me? Sorry, don’t believe you. Over the 10 weeks, The Things We Never Said received a total of 29 reviews, of which 17 were 5-star, seven were 4-star three were 3-star and two were 2-star. The Secrets We Left Behind received 32 reviews; 19 were 5-star, eight were 4-star, three were 3-star, and (gutted) one was 1-star and one was 2-star.
I also received 13 lovely reader emails (and four more that I haven’t included in this total because they’re from people I know)
I’ve just realised I have no pretty pictures for this post, so just to break it up a bit, here’s a photo of the new sofa in my study. Can’t think how I managed without one – it makes for a damn good sit down!
In order to write the blog post at the end of each week, I’ve kept a daily record of what I’ve been doing, so it’s been quite time-consuming. But it’s made me much more aware of how I spend my time. I wanted to write a completely honest account of my working week, so it’s felt a little bit like working in a goldfish bowl in that, if I’ve wasted a whole morning faffing about on Twitter, or bunking off to meet a friend for coffee, that’s fine, but I know I then have to confess it on the blog. I think this may have helped to keep me on the straight and narrow a little more than I might otherwise have been.
It’s also shown me just how much my teaching and domestic/family commitments impinge on my writing. One thing I discovered through the blog is that when I have a family commitment later in the day, it really affects my ability to get started on the novel. What I should do about this is to start on the novel first thing in the morning and leave emails/admin/social media, stuff until later. But I really struggle to do that. I have this feeling that I should ‘get things out of the way’ first. Anyone else have that problem?
The other thing that’s happened is that I now know what the novel is about. This may or may not have anything to do with writing the blog, but I suspect it’s helped because it’s made me think more closely about the decisions I’m making and why am making them.
Where I’m up to now
I’d say I’m virtually at the end of what I’ve been calling the ‘zero’ draft – I now know what the novel is about, I know the characters, I know how the novel ends, and I know most of the things that happen to the characters along the way, although I still have ideas for a couple more scenes I want to add in. I’ve also come to the conclusion, having tried various other options, that telling the story in a linear way, possibly in five parts, may be the best way option.
I’ve had lots of positive feedback on these posts, so as I said last week, I am going to continue posting about my progress with this book right up until publication. I’ll probably post every two weeks or so while I’m still working on the draft. Then there will be gaps while my agent and editor read the manuscript and give me their feedback, then I’ll post again while doing the rewrites, and eventually we’ll get to the point where there will be infrequent but hopefully exciting bits of news, such as a decision on the title, the unveiling of the cover, etc etc. By that stage, though, I’ll be starting to work on book four…