It seems like my life has been overtaken by writing requirements of one kind or another. Shifting word counts, page limitations, and section weight have begun to shape how I spend my conscious hours. I obsess with the little counter at the bottom of the page, praying heathen prayers that my mind can regurgitate enough content to appease the language overlords.
So far, this post is 63 piffling words long.
And yet, I don’t mind. Every 10 words adds to my sense of accomplishment; every 100 to my sense of worth; every 1,000 my sense of satisfaction. As my fingers click and clack away on my transmogrified typewriter, I am filled with a sense that I am doing something. Writing means to me what eating means to others; it fulfills, satisfies, and gives me energy.
My job requires I sew and weave words into specific margins, man-handle paragraphs into certain tensing, and wrestle pronouns to the ground with appropriate aggression. I am asked daily to paint a picture using words; my canvas already stained by dozens of other painters, but a masterpiece expected none-the-less. I do this job dutifully, but take little time to recognize how these endeavors have shaped how I view the world.
I am currently working on proposals, where the length, format, content, colors, spacing, margins, and graphics are all strictly mandated by an invisible person, via an errant unheralded email. This leads to frantic attempts to appease these mystery correspondents, squeezing, slicing, and smearing the language to meet the draconian guidelines. While I dislike the term “wordsmithing” it is actually quite appropriate when taken literally; we take raw, unprocessed words and turn them into a finely forged weapon of business.
As of this point, I have forged 301 words into the outline of a sword.
I spent a few hours helping my lovely fiancé edit her Graduate School essay. We, ultimately, had to chop her very well written 900 words down to 500 words. Syntax machete in hand, I went to doing what I do, hacking out adverbs, removing adjectival clauses. Getting that brief little monologue down to 500 words was criminal, vexing, and exhausting. Reduction is an art.
An art I embrace and find myself dwelling on, even when inappropriate or inopportune. Like an addict, my mind is constantly fixated on what I can write; snippets of ideas come to me in the shower, and I mull them about my mushy, pre-woken skull all morning until something solid springs forth, Athena style. Sometimes, a fleeting idea comes to me, and I roll and fumble to hold it, promising myself I won’t forget so awesome an idea. I usually forget, and become frustrated, picking through my brain thought by thought, trying to reconnect the chain that led me to the original idea.
Good ideas begin to form around the 478 word mark.
I love to write. I love all the things that most people hate about writing. I love editing, cropping, massaging, even at times, translating. If I am putting thoughts down into words, no matter how banal those thoughts, I am a happy word-wizard. I may not be the best, but perfection derides passion, in my experience.
To this end, I am going to undertake something this year: National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It’s a month long odyssey to scrawl 50,000 words of fiction across increasingly blurry, blood stained pages. It’s a quantity over quality exercise; an attempt to prove to oneself that they are capable of doing it, if they just do it.
I have several larger projects already underway, all of which I have stalled on under the guise of “I’ll come back when it hits me”. But when you do come back, you’ve lost track, your mood has changed; the veritable essence of what you were writing is either gone, or no longer readily available. I’ve stalled at 10,000 words, 23,000 words, and even 31,000 words, always thinking I’ll come back. I’ve even stalled as small as 500 words; if you abandon something, it’s incredibly difficult to find your way back.
To complete 50,000 words in a month (30 days), you have to write 1667 words a day. This post so far is 705 words. It’s taken me roughly 20 minutes to write 715 words, meaning it would take me an hour a day to write 2145 words. That pace is unrealistic, as this topic is fresh and new, so the writing flows like Franzia from a slapped bag. But it proves what I am capable of.
This blog has 49 posts (some are hidden, in case you try to count) with an average word count of ~750 words. That’s 36,750 words in my blog. At ~550 12pt, single spaced words a page, my blog is ~67 proposal pages long. That’s 134 Academia pages long. If it were novelized, it would be ~142 pages long! It would be disjointed, confusing, and decidedly awful, but it would be ~142 pages long!
So come November, that is what I’ll be doing. I’m going to set aside writing time each day, in an attempt to formulate the first complete, novel length narrative of my life. It’s one of my major goals, and I think I’ve finally found the vehicle that will guilt, pressure, and force me enough to finally realize it.
Until then, I will practice. If I had to run 3 miles, I used to practice by running 5, so I’ll do the same with my writing. If I can write 2500 words a day, for 15 days, 1700 words a day for 30 days should come more easily. Out will flow words about topics, and hell, I might even write some dialogue, too.
As of this upcoming period, this post is 964 words long.