Saturday, July 12, 2008

Counting My Words

I've been writing a young adult novel for the last, hold on...seventeen days. I'm about 28,000 words into it, which I assume is a little over halfway, since I'm aiming at about 50,000 total. Of course, who can say, until the story is told, exactly how many words it will take? My goal is to finish this draft by the time summer vacation is over, which is just a little over a month from today. To meet that goal, I have been trying to write about 1000 words each day. Of course, the caveat is that some days the words are terrible, and I have to rewrite them the next day, but it's the writing them out the first time that's really hard for me. Sometimes.

Sometimes they flow out effortlessly, ecstatically, a ribbon of words streaming in the breeze of my sub-conscious. Other times it's pure labor; I often compare it to the process of laboring and giving birth, and it's true it is an act of creation, a sort of life-giving. Sometimes each word sqeeeeeeeezes out slowly and painfully, after much pacing and position-shifting, pleading and doubting. Just like with giving birth, there really is no way to turn back. It doesn't matter how painful it is, it has to come out, one way or another.

It's great to write on those evenings when I feel on top of the story, when my words just fly off the tips of my fingers, but I think it's almost more important for me to write on the nights that I balk at it, that I have to drag myself through each paragraph. Writing is an art, a product of inspiration, but it's also work. It's putting one word after another after another, mixing them together to create some kind of (hopeful) harmony.

Now I've procrastinated long enough; my 1000 words await.

9 comments:

cowpops said...

((liss))

liss n kids said...

Thanks for the hug...I am going to bed with 1800 words under my belt tonight, so it feels pretty good right now. ;)

cindyMN said...

Liss, my dd is writing the great american novel also. ha. She's 15. Where do you send your work? and how do you go about doing that? ANy advice is greatly wanted, and needed. She wants to be an author when she gets out of HS..yea..right. I want to be angelina jolie. But I'm a bit more realistic. Could you email me with any advice
THANKS!
cindy
nestberg@blackduck.net

cowpops said...

It's probably not my place to say, cindymn, but while being realistic is important, pleeeease don't tell her she can't do something. I'm not saying you are, but when a writer believes in something, it destroys them when it they are not supported.

And my apologies if I totally crossed lines and gave personal advice to a stranger. ;)

liss n kids said...

cindy,
I'll just put my grand advice right here...it may apply to others (assuming my readership is broader than you and cowpops, lol). I teach writing to 12-14 year olds, and I'll tell you that when I have a student who expresses an interest in writing--in being a writer--I feel so excited for that student to start down this wonderful path of being/becoming a writer. I think being realistic is always a plus, as in she should study her other subjects, develop her social skills, get out in the world and be a teenager. But at age 15 (or 32, I like to think), what an aspiring writer really needs is hope and determination, rounded out with finely tuned writing skills. There are lots of ways to make a living at writing, and there are lots of ways to be a writer in addition to other, more realistic options.

My advice for her would be to read, as much as possible. Read all kinds of books, from all kinds of writers, for all kinds of audiences.

Connect with other writers, online or in a writing group. Go to literary events, like poetry readings or book signings. Get a thirst for good writing and good storytelling that she cannot quench any other way than by being successful at it herself.

Then, of course, write. Write a journal, write poetry, write lists, write a blog, write stories, write essays, write, write, write.

As far as submitting, there are lot of opportunities out there for teens to publish. (disclaimer: I am not a published author, except for one poem in a literary magazine...take my advice re this with the knowledge that it is just based on my own seeking and learning!)Research publishing and realize rejection is a big part of it. Probably the best place to start is by writing essays or short stories and looking for reputable magazines/ezines that will publish her work. Once you are looking at a novel-length work, it's best to start by approaching agents. You can look at this website: http://www.duotrope.com/
which lists a lot of fiction markets, with research about each one as well as links to individual websites. That's not aimed at young writers, though, and there are sites that are.

OK, I've rambled on enough.

cindyMN said...

Cowpops..you are totally ok! I relish ANY advice!!
While I don't acutally discourage her...I want to keep her grounded and realistic also. She is such a dreamer!! Total head in the clouds. It's great that she wants to be a writer.BUT how will she support herself until her big break comes along? KWIM?!! LOL. That's what I worry about.
But I want to encourage her to write write write..and want to see her see what it's really like by exposing her to contests, and submitting now. What do you guys think of that??
I really have NO idea!! ha

cowpops said...

cindy-- I'm glad I'm okay. :D

I'm a serious dreamer myself (go ahead and view my profile?) so I'm almost exactly in her boat. The exciting thing about having Writing as a passion though, is that every single thing in life has writing in it... so as long as she gets her novel-writing in, I don't think her love for writing will hinder her in any way, shape or form..

best of luck to both of you. :)

cindyMN said...

Ok, cowpops..I just read your profile and a bit of your blog...and I'm sorry to tell you this..but you ARE my Daughter!!!
HOLY SMOKES!!
How old are you? Please tell me you grad'd HS with great grades, attended college, and are happy.
It'll give me hope!! LOL

cowpops said...

@ Cindy-- lol!

I'm glad to see I have a twin?

Well, I'm a happy person, I have great grades, and I'm confident. I write but I know there are other things I need to do too.

Don't worry, and she won't either.