I’ve mentioned before that in writing Incomplete States that I’ve written over one million words.
Thinking about that today as I’m almost finished with editing the fifth novel in the series, I decided to do more quantifying about it. I began writing the series in July, 2016, and completed it in July, 2018. I write almost every day, often even when on vacation and traveling. While it’s not exact, I guessed that I wrote about seven hundred twenty days since I began writing the series.
Dividing one million by seven hundred twenty, I estimate that I wrote less than fourteen hundred words a day.
That’s not a huge word count, but it shows what can happen by just keeping at it.
I found myself laughing as I edited today, because I was dealing with the holes.
Still editing Book Five, An Undying Quest, of the Incomplete States series, I have half of the novel edited. The thing about the holes and the society that use them is that I hadn’t planned these holes. The holes in discussion are worm holes, but small, controlled to some degree, such as the way that we control water by channeling and funneling it, and managing levels and temperatures, etc., that are located in a cavern on another planet. The people use the holes to travel to other places, and sometimes to other times, and, if they’re brave enough, to visit the dead.
As noted, they were completely spontaneous when I was writing that section, and created a history and structure on the go. Reading, editing, and revising it today, this society’s depths, history, and complexities surprised me. There’s a sense in reading it that it’s historic fiction, and that you have some sense of what’s meant by the terms and relationships because that’s your history.
I quite enjoyed reading it. Will it work for others? Maybe, maybe not. I think it was James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Sheldon) who said something like, “Tell the story, and let the reader catch up, if they can.” That’s what I’m employing in this instance.
I must admit, one aspect of the holes was inspired by a scene from Field of Dreams (1989), when Terence Mann (James Early Jones) accepts the invitation from Shoeless Joe (Ray Liotta) to enter the corn. Love that scene.
Done writing and editing like crazy for another day. Off to join the real people, the real world, and the real sunshine.
I’m in such an editing and writing zone, enjoying reading what I’ve written, surprised by the characters and settings. I wrote this? Are you sure? Because I don’t remember it. Yet the notes tell me that I wrote it last June. Ah, where is my mind?
Now I need to stop. Plans were made and time has flitted past with a hummingbird’s speed. I’ve been busy for hours, and sad about stopping. That’s how it sometimes goes, but I take satisfaction in that it was a good day of writing and editing like crazy.
I read so often about how hard fiction writing is. I won’t lie, it offers some challenging times. Writing will drive you mad with character and plot choices, word decisions, and problems with story-telling and pacing. It’ll daunt you with the eternal question, “What comes next?”
But when it all comes together, when you’re in that flow, whether it’s writing, editing, or polishing, when you finally encounter your results, it can be so sweet and fulfilling. I encountered that today, another moment of being surprised by what I’ve written.
It’s all not pages of gems or brilliance. I have read my writing sometimes and gagged in revulsion over what I’d written, using up adjectives to describe how sickened I felt with my attempts.
It’s so rewarding, though, when the opposite is encountered, as it was today while editing the fifth book in the Incomplete States series, An Undying Quest. There’ll be many readers, critics, and other writers who won’t like it. I know that from talking to readers. I’ve heard them say about best-selling novels, “He’s a wonderful writer, but I didn’t like the format.” Or, “She creates beautiful characters. Her writing is like poetry, but there was no ending. The story didn’t make any sense.”
Writers bring intent to their efforts to write. Our intentions as writers often morph as our brains develop insights into what we’re thinking and attempting to show. The story we were originally telling becomes another story. The ending that we stumble upon changes how the entire novel and its concept is regarded.
Through it all are the words and the mechanics of being clear, and the effort to keep the reader engaged, rolling the dice on telling too much or not enough, hoping that the readers see what you’re doing, even though you know that they will find and take away meanings that you, the writer, never saw or intended.
Our brains just don’t work the same way. Our brains depend upon our individual knowledge, emotions, and experiences to find and assign meaning to the words that we read and hear. Although we have standardized agreement about words and their definition, each of us have our own twists and tweaks.
I write about this subject often, the joy of writing, editing, and revising one’s own novel. The process is engaging. It’s a daily escape for me, and today’s editing session kept me glued to my chair and deep in the novel. People came and went as the minutes raced passed. My coffee went untouched. A loud noise finally startled me out of my focus. Then I was shocked by how much time had passed.
It was a good day. But, there are other days…
There are days when he process can drain my soul, obliterating my good mood. Sometimes ideas and words begrudge coming out. Gritting my teeth, sighing, and gulping coffee, I just keep working it and working it, knowing that I’ll re-work it later, probably several times.
I’m pleased that I’ve progressed as a writer (at least in my mind), but I know there’s much more to learn, and so many more ways in which I can progress. I have more ideas, concepts, stories, settings, and characters idling in my mind. I look forward to my attempts to write them. I look forward to progressing as a writer, editor, and story-teller. Then again, effort, hope, and determination don’t promise anything as a result. I could end up flaming out.
It becomes an interesting loop, though — despair, effort, struggle, results, inspiration, hope, despair, effort, struggle, results — and so on. Trying, and finally succeeding with writing something that doesn’t cause me to choke with disgust inspires me to try again, and again. I tell yourself, “You did this once. You can do it again.” So I try, and try, and try.
That’s what it’s all about for me.
It was a good day of writing and editing like crazy. Time to chug down my cold coffee and return to life.
I finished editing and revising A Sense of Time today. It’s the fourth book in the Incomplete States series. It’s three hundred thirteen double-spaced Word pages, and seventy-five thousand words. I’ll begin editing and revising the fifth book, An Undying Quest, tomorrow.
Meanwhile, I’ve continued work on the side with the sixth book, The Final Time. I look forward to working on it full time after I edit the fifth book. Based on my projected social calendar and holidays, and my pace with the other books, I’ll probably finish editing and revising An Undying Quest by December’s end.
Done for today, though. It’s becoming cold outside. That bastard wind never relented and the sun is skulking behind layers of clouds. Time to go home, maybe have some hot soup for lunch.
It was a good day of writing and editing like crazy.