Thursday, 2 August 2012

Success vs failure: It's all in the mind

I’m a great one for goals.  In the middle of June, I set myself a target of a 100,000 word draft of The Memory of Midnight to be completed by today, and on one level, I have to admit failure.  I don’t know if you’ll be able to see in the photo, but as of last night I had only done 93,620 words – although I have notes for the final two scenes which should take me to 96-97,000 tonight, I reckon.  

As so often with success and failure, it’s all in the interpretation, though, and I am choosing to see this as success in spite of those missing words.  The hard part for me is squaring up to the blank screen, and I have been slowly but steadily accumulating words until I have ended up with 326 pages with the story blocked out. That’s plenty for me to work with.

And work there is still to do. At the moment I have plot and not much else.  I’ve been banging out the words without stopping too long to research, and now I need to layer in texture and emotion and pace and character and tone and historical detail and new dialogue ….  Re-write the entire book in fact.  It’ll mean going back to the beginning and starting all over again, but for me the hardest slog has been done.

Next Tuesday I’ll be sitting down to read through the draft I’m so smug about right now. I predict much tearing of hair and wringing of hands and omigod-this-is-a-disaster because that’s what I do when I read through.  It’s all part of the process, not that it’s much comfort at the time.  But then I’ll start the real business of writing as rewriting and that’s the point – I hope! – when it will all start to come together. 

In the meantime, I’m thinking of my draft as complete (what’s 4-5000 words and a bit of missing punctuation in the last two scenes between friends, after all?) and rewarding myself with a weekend away, walking along the south coast, before knuckling down again next week.  

Enjoy your weekend too, wherever you are and whatever you're doing!


  1. I think it's a success too! 96K is just incredible! Congratulations!

  2. Thank you, Lacey! In fact, I still haven't reread the draft. I've been tidying up other loose ends - aka procrastinating - but today really is the day ...