The lovely Amy hit me with this 23/5 meme–go to the twenty-third post in your blog, pick the fifth sentence and then try to expand on it, the themes that are either explicitly or impliclty present in that sentence. So I dug up said post and said sentence, which I reproduce now exactly as it was presented then (on May 26th):
THREE-HUNDRED-FORTY-FIVE-THOUSAND FRIGGIN’ WORDS.
(Yes, it was in all caps. Go look yourself if you don’t believe me.)
The original context for the sentence was in dicussion of the first draft of John Irving’s Until I Find You–a draft he threw away so he could rewrite the book in third person instead of first. I was simply astonished by the fact that he was able to write one single piece of fiction that was so horrendously long…well, you can go back and read the original post if you’re interested.
To expand on that sentence somewhat–well, obviously I’ve been having some issues with my fiction lately, largely in the getting-my-ass-moving-forward front. As you might have noticed from the sidebar, my first draft has been stuck at a little over 15,000 words for about a month or so. Not all of that has been directly related to a lack of motivation, of course; my father’s recent illness (he came home from the hospital yesterday, by the way), helping my boy Jay drive up to New England from Florida, plus any number of other sundry happenings have helped divert my attention from the manuscript long enough that I’ve found it incredibly hard to pick up where I left off. (To be fair, some of my problem has been purely a lack of motivation.)
I know that word count isn’t the measure of whether or not a story or a novel is successful–that would be like saying the main reason I dig The Killers’ “All These Things That I’ve Done,” for instance, is because that song has just the right number of notes. That’s clearly ludicrous. But numbers work for me, they keep me going. Watching my word count has the same effect for me that all the fancy readings on the treadmill do: both give me a measurable objective against which to gauge my progress. I might not be able to use that info to judge quality, but at least I know how close I am to being done.
Realizing just how far away I am from being done with that draft, however…looks more and more like I have to re-think that “end of October” deadline. Grr.