Yes, it’s an arbitrary figure. Yes, it ignores the many hours I’ve spent editing and revising. Yes, it took quite a lot longer than I expected.
But here it is anyway. As of today I reckon I’ve written 500,000 original words of fiction since I began in February 2011. It’s not quite enough to match the word count of War and Peace (587,000 words), but it’s still two Moby Dicks plus a Picture of Dorian Gray…
What’s most interesting to me is to take stock of the change in the quality of writing I’ve produced over this period. I’m an awful lot better at drafting and editing. Equally importantly, I’m an awful lot more efficient, to boot.
Anyway. The 50% mark is also a good excuse for a writing update. So far this year I’ve been funnelling my time into longer projects rather than short stories:
- The Forge (7300 words) – SF
- Blighters (16,300 words) – SF
- Untitled medieval time-travel novel (40,000 words and rising, though only 15,000 of those words were written this year)
And, although the following are nothing to do with actual writing (as they’re all stories written during previous years) and all to do with the tenacious sending of submissions emails…
Publications and sales
- Like Clockwork – SQ Mag Edition 18, Jan 2015
- By the Numbers – The New Accelerator #3, Feb 2015
- The Sleeper – Phobos, Issue 3, Feb 2015
- Screaming His Scream – Perihelion, May 2015
- The House Lights Dim – Dark Lane Anthology Volume 2, forthcoming
- Finding Waltzer-Three – Pantheon Vol. 7, forthcoming
- Read/Write Head – The Museum of All Things Awesome And That Go Boom anthology, forthcoming
Oh, and one other notable thing, for the sake of completion:
- The Walls of Tithonium Chasma – Honorable Mention from the Writers of the Future contest (Q1 2015)
OK, so my writing spreadsheet didn’t actually go ‘ting’ when I hit 400,000 words, but it should’ve. Anyway, I’m using this tiny milestone as an excuse to summarise my writing up to this point in 2014, following on from my 2013 update.
- A Crest of a Wave (2400 words) – SF, Mars
- Like Clockwork (3500 words) – SF, Mars
- Cast In the Same Mould (4200 words) – SF, Mars
- Finding Waltzer-Three (1400 words) – SF
I’ve temporarily shelved the historical time-travel novel I was working on from Sept-Dec last year. The main reason is that, with the birth of my son and resultant general exhaustion, the research element was beginning to bog me down. Another good reason is that the main premise seems to share a lot of similarities with a project I’ve heard is in development elsewhere. Grr.
Instead, most of my writing this year has been towards adapting one of my stories, The House-sitter, into a novel. It’s another time travel story for adults, contemporary, and pretty dark. It’s currently running to 56,000 words after a bare-bones first draft. I’m really enjoying writing this one.
- By the Numbers – anthology reprint, upcoming
And that’s it.
I’m telling myself that this is no bad thing. Since my modest success in getting stories published last year, I’ve set my sights aimed higher and submitted only to semi-pro and pro markets. No bites, but several positive comments, just enough to give me hope. And as I mentioned earlier, my novelette, Carus & Mitch, received an Honorable Mention from the Writers of the Future judges. I got my certificate in the post last night. It’s blue and sparkly.
So, 400,000 words written in total, and 40% of the way to my first million. Not too shabby. So far this year I’ve written around 75,000 words (along with edits of various projects) despite sleepless nights courtesy of my son.
Short stories written in 2013
- The Walls of Tithonium Chasma (2400 words) – SF, Mars
- The Sleeper (1600 words) – SF, Mars
- The House-sitter (7200 words) – SF, time travel
- Tunnel Vision (2000 words) – general
- To Ashes, Dust (2500 words) – SF, Mars
- The Man Screaming His Scream (1200 words) – SF
- First Cashpoint on Mars (1000 words) – SF, Mars
Flash fiction written in 2013
- The Puzzle Box (250 words) – horror, entry for Apex flash fiction competition
- A Christmas Tradition (250 words) – horror, entry for Apex flash fiction competition
Longer fiction written in 2013
- Mercy (73,000 words) – YA novel, finished & edited
- Carus & Mitch (16,500 words) – horror novelette, finished & edited
- Untitled time travel novel (25,000 words and counting) – in progress
Short stories published in 2013
By my reckoning, that’s about 138,000 words written this year (including deleted words, excluding planning and editing). Not bad going, whilst working full time and taking two months off after the birth of my son…
Combined with stories and novels from the previous two years, I’ve written about 320,000 words of fiction in total. I read somewhere that writers only find their voice, or write anything worth a damn, after completing their first million words.
That feels about right.