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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Bottom Rung

Long-time readers (if any of you are still coming back to check up on this most sporadic of blogs) might remember a year or more ago when I waxed lyrical about getting my lazy butt into action and writing something every day. Well, it might sound strange but after more than a year that little book, which I promised to write in every day, is only half full. It contains what are, in my writing oeuvre, very rare things called short stories.

I haven't written a lot in that book because shortly after writing the above-mentioned post I got said butt into gear and spent a lot of time hammering out novel length manuscripts. Not at just a few pages a day, but aiming for a writing goal of at least 1000 words a day.

All of this, of course, on the computer, or else I'd have needed several dozen of those lovely little notebooks to contain all those many many words.

Some days I didn't hit the 1000 word mark. On many days I wrote a lot more, a really good day being up to about 5000. Since I wrote that blog post, I have completed two full-length novel manuscripts, and have had significant interest in one of them from a small publisher. It's not a book deal - in fact, it was a very kindly written and helpful rejection, which I will cherish for a long time to come - but it has validated the long hours and the carpal tunnel syndrome and the eye strain that all those words have cost me.

But I didn't start writing this post to brag about getting a rejection letter from a publisher, since I know there are plenty of writers out there who can claim the same thing many times over, and I don't want to tread on any toes.

No, I wanted to point out the power of making a public statement.

I said it, therefore I must do it.

Prior to writing these two manuscripts I had completed a very lengthy and, at this stage, unpublishable epic tale. When I researched the publishing market and found out just how unpublishable a 275,000 word fantasy series was for an unknown author, I began to languish. I had a plan, but I had not put it into action.

Telling everyone that I had committed to putting words on the page every day cemented the need to do so in my mind, and the habit was formed. If nothing else, failing to do so would mean that I had lied to you all, and I'm not the lying kind.

Well, apart from writing fiction, which is lying in its purest sense, but we won't get into that here.

And now, a year and a bit later, I may not be a published author but I have my first rejection under my belt and I know that my strategy is taking me closer every day. I have gone from standing on the ground looking up at the ladder hanging mysteriously in the overlit sky, to clutching with all my might to the bottom rung of that ladder and holding on for all I'm worth.

So if I don't crop up here more than once or twice a month (as has been the case for a while now) you know where I am: with my head in another world, thinking of horrible things to do to my poor characters.

Failing that, of course, you can normally find me lurking around on Twitter, with my legs dangling uselessly beneath me.

6 comments:

Bren said...

Good effort and well done on keeping it real! I tended to promise the world on my blog and fail to deliver on a regular basis so I gave up making such rash statements. Maybe I should take a leaf from your book? ('scuse the pun!)

Morgan said...

I admire your commitment to writing daily. Your twitter reports of getting down to work always make me happy for you. Keep at it, the day will come!

Dan said...

Thanks, folks.

Biting off little chunks, eventually you'll be able to swallow the whole banquet table. Of course, some of the banquet might be cold by the time you get to the end and the tablecloth can be challenge, but persistence makes it worth it.

:)

Laura said...

It's funny, I began following you on Twitter because of a recipe blog (might have been cheesecake) that got RT'd, but I soon came to think of you as a writer. Now I can't wait to read something you've written. I wouldn't mind eating something you've cooked/baked either, but I'll settle for cooking/baking a recipe myself that you've recommended. Write on my friend!

Dan said...

Thanks Laura, that means a lot.

If you ever want to beta read something of mine, I've always got something on the go that I'm keen to have fresh eyes read over. Just drop me a DM on Twitter (@rabarts) and I'll inject some chapters into your inbox.

Neil Colquhoun said...

A good and witty post!
Keep up the good work.

If you have anything done, I' like to read it.

Cheers
N