I set a goal just before New Years eve in 2015. I planned to write 350,000 words of new fiction. Not all of those words – probably most of those words – will ever get published, but it was a chance to build a daily writing habit into my life, stretch myself on a variety of writing fronts, and just see what came of things.
As of this morning I passed 300,000 words.
There’s a couple of novel starts in there. Some creative writing I did for school last spring. A bunch of finished and unfinished short stories. But the biggest beneficiary of this effort has been the novel Summer, the story of Hammond River, his lover June July August, and his friends Francine Waxwillia and Melvin Jacobsen. The story has grown from 20,000 words at the start of the year (part of an effort I had made over a year ago) to well over 79,000 words. And with the plot permutations and ideas I have for the remainder, it could well top 100,000, perhaps reaching 120,000 words. I will probably pass my goal with the effort that’s left on this first draft, and still have plenty of free time left to enjoy the holidays before I begin editing it.
I don’t think I’m going to set a similar goal next year. I do plan to keep writing every day, but I want to stretch the muscles in another direction. So for the foreseeable future, the plan for 2017 is to write 52 short stories in one year. I’ll use some stories I have started, some ideas I have in my ideas file, and the rest will come to me when they come to me. Lately I’ve been drawing inspiration from artwork people post online, which is a great resource. One picture of a fantastical scene can be the jumping off point for numerous stories, and I hope to spend the time honing that craft as much as I have working on primarily novels this year.
I’ll probably work on novels as well, though. The WWI alternative history novel is still on the burner, and a follow up novel to the first Mirabel Sinclair detective story sits ready to be worked on. But I’ll do less counting of words next year and more focusing on the quality of the stories I’m producing. It’ll still be a tough year, trying to perfect and edit 52 shorts will be a nice task to accomplish and will help keep me on track.
Because I am a writer. At the very least, despite the rejections, I’ve learned that this year.