So I still haven’t missed a day logging some writing activity since my last day at the casino when the first COVID shut down happened in March of 2020. In 2021, however, most of my writing time has been spent slowly editing a set of novels, the Troll World Quintet, formerly Quartet. I track editing not by time spent, but by net word count change. That means I have some days where I spend an hour editing and the net word count change is a single digit number. More frequently, it’s several hundred, either because I am removing significant portions of a scene and rewriting to make it better, or because I’ve come across an issue that needs more than just a couple of little sentence shifts to fix.
At least, that’s how things work in the second draft. In the third draft, the word count swings tend to be smaller because at that point I’m satisfied with the story and now just want to make sure that everything says what I wanted to say, scene by scene, paragraph by paragraph, line by line, even word by word. I’ve mentioned more than once that I think about this as the “make it pretty” draft. This is often more work and slower going than the second draft.
In the final draft, the word count changes tend to be very small. The objective here is to read the story out loud and tweak the little things that don’t make sense or where I mentally or orally stumble over the text.
Since classes started again full time for me on the 10th of May, that word count has gone way down. Most days, it’s between one and two hundred, usually closer to one. I haven’t done a lot of drafting until the last week when I’ve started to find a proper balance again. My average seven-day rolling word count when from an already relatively low 4500 before I started back to school down to about 2500 as an active student. While I would like to see that creep up again, I’m not too worried about it right now. I am still making progress, and I am still getting work done, but at the same time I’m pursuing a dream that’s been a dream for a long time.
Not that writing hasn’t been a dream for far longer, but the expectation of making a living from it has never been high. That would be wonderful, but whether or not I can ever make that happen, writing is an integral part of who I am. I write because I have to write, and slowly finding an audience is its own reward. Sure, covering costs and time is nice, but that’s a bonus. The art itself is the end goal.
What the overall pace does mean, particularly as a student, is that as we approach the end of July I am only just approaching the end of the third draft of the fourth book in the set. I think I can still manage the goal of having them all completely edited by the end of the year, but it probably won’t be very far before the end of the year.
And I haven’t done any public blogging in the last two months, nor have I done any publishing. There was supposed to be a novelette in both June and July, neither of which have actually been completely edited at this point, and there is supposed to be another novel in August, which is completely edited, but not prepared in any other way. Not looking as good as I would like.
It is probably well past time to revisit my writing and publishing goals for the year and look at them in the light of my being a full-time student. It seems reasonable that I consider the more midterm goals as well, since I expect to be in school for the next three to six years, with the four-to-five-year span most likely.
Keep making progress, but I expect I will be tempering my expectations with a bit of academic reality. Smaller steps. And that’s OK, because I’m making bigger steps in other things.
Be well, everyone.by