This number inspires a small celebration in me, and here’s why. You’ll notice, scrolling through this blog, that there are some significant time gaps. For much of the last year or two I had no publishing news, and I wasn’t even writing much. The reason for the publishing hiatus should come as no surprise: the serious slump in the industry. But why wasn’t I writing?
This extended writer’s block shows how there is such a thing as a wrong project. My wrong project was a historical fantasy novel, which I’ve been trying to write for the past 10 years or so. I could go on in great detail about the recurring problems, but generally speaking, I kept finding myself at a loss when it came to blending ideas from the fantasy realm – where people could overcome death, for example – into a historical world with all its minute and accuracy-demanding details. And where do I find all those minute details? I spent hours trying to research the layout of a certain seventeenth-century chapel, only to find out it was the wrong one, and the one I wanted no longer exists. Even more frustrating, I realized I didn’t like my characters. They annoyed me, I was sick of listening to their voices, and they weren’t right for telling the story.
But I pushed on, like all the writing advice tells you to do. I sat down faithfully every morning and pounded out my word count. Pretty soon I was up to 20,000 words – 20,000 words that I hated. I threw them out. I regrouped and started over, and eventually I got up to 30,000. I still hated them. I still had to throw them out.
So I put that project way. And after a lot of wondering what to do, I finally came up with a project that seems to be the right one. The setting is more comfortable for me to work with, and the characters are more interesting. Today I passed 32,000 words and it didn’t even feel like pulling teeth. That’s the difference between choosing the right project and choosing the wrong project. Now we just have to see if I can finish it…