50K words and counting

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I hit 50,000 words on my current project (it’s a novel) last Saturday and then I didn’t write a stitch for two whole days. Achieving that goal was a big deal for me because this was the highest word count I’ve ever hit on a project. In fact, this is the longest I’ve worked on a project! Those classes I took at Gotham Writers really helped.

I just needed a pause to catch my breath. I was pushing myself so hard to hit the 50K mark that when I did, I just wanted to sit back and look at it for a minute. Have you ever done that?

Since my hands like to stay busy, I started a new knitting project. I’m working on the Urban Ranch Shawl, it’s a simple garter stitch pattern that’s knit sideways. I love a sideways knit. It creates an elegant ridging throughout the fabric with a nice drape. I’m using Caron simply soft yarn in the Ocean colorway. I just started it, but I think it’s going to be quite lovely.

I’m back writing now. My average is about 1,000 words a day.  I am using the Microsoft Word dictation function, which really isn’t the same as *actual* writing, but it’s getting the words on the page and that’s all that really matters since this is a first draft, right?

Also, as I write I am stunningly aware of how little I know about drugs and drug culture. The language I use seems a bit disjointed at times. My protagonist is a narcotics officer and there are a few scenes where she is interacts with drug dealers and the language needs work.  But I can work that out in the next draft.

Lessons from the Bloodchild

I just finished reading Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild and Other Stories.” I’ve read “Bloodchild” several times as I work on my own short stories.  But there is something special about reading the collection. Butler, a confessed novelist, but her short stories are masterfully clear, engaging, concise and impactful. She relays the most graphic and disturbing content as if they were announcements in a pew bulletin.

Butler also wrote with freedom. She wasn’t bound by tropes, rigid structure or “approved” content. She wrote HER stories her way and waited for others to experience the brilliance.

Upon reflection, I can see the cowardice in my own writing. I write in anticipation of readers’ questions or desires. I spend a tremendous amount of time on description, backstory, and minutia that really don’t approach let alone advance the plot.

It’s like making pasta sauce, but letting your dinner guest pick the ingredients, proportions, and timing, whether they can cook or not.  I can’t even imagine it!  I don’t even let people IN my kitchen when I’m cooking, so I do I let strangers all up in my stories when I write?

In short, I’m not telling MY stories. I’m trying to get readers to affirm that I am a good writer –this is artistic cowardice at its finest.

Good writing is about the work, not the writer.

I regret not reading Octavia Butler earlier in life. But I am grateful for the opportunity to feast on the results of her talent, hard work, and the ZERO fucks she gave when they tried to tell her what should be in her sauce.

be free.

Eryka