So, I can't remember the exact date, but I remember my wife and I were babysitting my nieces for Valentine's two years ago. I believe it was the Saturday just before, which makes it February 12th, if I remember correctly. While kicking it on the couch watching my nieces, I wrote the Prologue for "The Oren Letters: Demos". At that point, I had been thinking about the book and had been doing some planning since January 2011, a little over a year. So, there I had a head full of ideas and several files filled with notes and ideas. Finally, there on the couch I jumped and started writing on my iPhone of all things. Can't say I've taken much of a break since. I planned to take a month off after finishing Arc 1 of Pneumadiluvians, but just days after the fact, I can't help but feel the itch to write more! Oh, well, if I can manage a break, I'll take a break, if it doesnt happen, it doesn't happen. So, the purpose of this post is just for me to reflect on the past two years of writing - what I've done, what I've learned, and where I want to go.
What I've Done
I've heard it said that "You have to write a million words of crap before you write anything good." Or something to that effect. So, I thought it'd be fun to look at what I've written and see what my word count is at... just to see how much more crap I'll have to churn out before a glimmering jewel appears.
(And please don't tell me that the million word mark isn't a hard-line and that I can write something good long before one million words... obviously, I'm joking)
The Grossly Abridged History of the Oren Letters 7,302
The Oren Letters: Demos 96,004
The Oren Letters: Demos Deleted Scenes 13,488
Sand & Cinder 24,293
Cave Carter: Epoch Baby 984
Untitled YA Fantasy 39,540
Pneumadiluvians Chapter 1 8,389
Pneumadiluvians Chapter 2 8,248
Pneumadiluvians Chapter 3 7,784
Pneumadiluvians Chapter 4 10,385
Pneumadiluvians Chapter 5 10,831
Pneumadiluvians Chapter 6 16,083
Pneumadiluvians Deleted Scenes 6,479
Hey, I'm a quarter of the way there! That's kind of shocking to me, I dont think I really knew I'd written that much.
What I've Learned
1. A milestone strategy of writing works best for me. Meaning, I know my endpoints and the milestones between the start and the finish, then I let the space between happen naturally as I'm in the scene writing.
2. If I need to get some writing done, I've written as much as 1,600 words an hour, but with heavy revisions later. Somewhere around the 700 words per hour mark is a good goal for me to have balance between production and being happy with my work later on and overall avoiding excessive editing.
3. I should read more.
4. I should've paid more attention in English class. I haven't had one since the fall semester of my Freshman year... ten years ago this year.
5. I prefer writing in the third person. Looking above at what I've written, it's almost a 50/50 split between third and first person. There's just so much more you can do with third person limited. First person feels so restrictive. But I know some do it well, can't say I feel that I'm there yet, perhaps word 1,000,001 will be first person after I've refined the craft. We'll see.
6. No matter how much I think I know where I want to take the story at the outset, most of my good ideas come while writing and aren't planned. Maybe less planning is what I need to do. Hmm... Better not dwell on that.
7. Forcing yourself to take a break periodically is one of the smartest things you can do.
Where I want to Go
Right now, I have four big stories rolling around in my head. Chances are great that I'll never get to 3 and 4, but at least I've got 1 and 2 started.
1. Continue Pneumadiluvians - there's a lot of story here, I can't wait to get more out to the readers
2. Re-work The Oren Letters - this was a planned low-fantasy series of three or four books, I'd like to get back into it and really tighten up the storylines, switch from a first-person to a third-person, and color in the world a whole lot more. And possibly, a name change. I didn't realize how common the name Oren was until well after the first draft was done.
3. "Superhero Trilogy" - a modern unique superhero story with a well-structured three-book arc, very theme heavy. This is my Dark Knight Trilogy inspired story
4. SoulMindFlesh - this one would be seven books long and seems the most unlikely to see completion because... well, it's seven books. I'm finding that I'm dumping all of my unused fantasy ideas into this story's bucket. That could be bad or good, time will tell.
Well, there it is. A quick summation of what two years of writing has done to me. Even if no publisher ever picks me up, even if I'm never on any bestseller list or nominated for any awards, even if I never break more than 500 downloads a month, I'll keep writing. Because I love doing it. And I have some stories to tell.