I’m being bold and saying this is like old times. Not in the total wordage possible in a day, but in the way the story is unrolling before me, complete with sensory detail, character backgrounds, every scene offering attachment points for PlotStuff. It will run into trouble, somewhere in the next 30,000-40,000 words, if it runs true to form of nearly all my books…but right now it’s chuckling along like a stream with a healthy flow of spring-water. (Of course, having said this, and having “overwritten” today enough that my right hand is really sore, I may wake up tomorrow with the bottom of the well back to, if anything, damp rock. But it doesn’t feel in danger of that right now.)
So what can I tell you? Little, still. There’s the whole of Cold Welcome still between this and you. I can say mysteries, intrigue, plots, villainy, fugitives, more villainy, disguises that work and those that don’t, bureaucratic complications that are not villainy, just normal paperpushers’ insistence on Doing Things the Right Way and the perils of failing to report changes in status, etc, etc, etc. Our Side are sometimes a step ahead of the game and sometimes two steps behind. There’s a pompous supermarket manager who may (or may not) be suborned by villains (don’t know yet), old quarrels come to life, betrayals and loyalty, forgiveness and undying enmity. And so on. And a prison I hope none of us ever ends up in.
This book, compared to the writing of the last one, perfectly shows the results of writer health and stress. That one gave me trouble all the way through, like driving a car with a flat tire down a muddy, deeply rutted road that also had boulders stuck in it here and there. I wasn’t well, didn’t realize I wasn’t well, was getting worse without being fully aware of that because I was so engaged with fighting the !**! book along with one eye on the calendar and clock. This one, since I waited until I was at least minimally fit to write fiction, and have continued to work on the health issues, especially sleep and diet, has been like driving a rather old, but cared-for car down a smooth road between rows of shady trees. It can’t go sixty. But it can go thirty every day for a couple of hours, and over a week’s time that’s a reasonable amount. Re-reading the reasonable amount, it will need normal reworking but nothing as drastic as the previous book.
The book wants to be written. I’m writing it without half-killing myself. This is a good partnership.
So for those of you who contemplate writing things as a career: be aware that you are the source of your work. You are the craftsperson and the crafter’s tools, and if you treat yourself badly, without care–if you think your healthy younger self can just work and work and work without maintenance–there’s a big, thick, wall of solid stone waiting down the road. all the way across and impossible to get around, and it WILL stop you. Don’t wait until then to realize that the decades pass and adjustments must be made. Early and often and they’re smaller. Hit the wall and you have to do it all at once.
Oh–you want numbers? As of this moment, 135 pages and 26,534 words. And my hands hurt, so that’s it for now.