So where am I on my “million words” journey?
Lest you think this writing business comes quickly or easily…
When I was in 2nd grade, I wrote and illustrated my first book, The Adventures of Wilma the Worm. When I was in 8th grade, I wrote my first sci-fi fantasy about a teenaged girl who rode her unicorn through tesseracts across the universe and became stuck on Earth. I wish either of these had survived. I don’t include them in my word count.
Then I went to college–and the well-renowned head of the English department sneered at my passion to write science fiction and fantasy. And unfortunately that shut me down for about 20 years. While I continued to read it, without support or guidance, I lost faith that I could create it.
I wrote academic works, technical documents, magazine articles, and “corporate porn” (aka advertising copy). I don’t include any of this in my word count, although I’m particularly proud of at least one magazine article about Y2K preparedness (remember when that was a thing?!). I edited all this and more, including dangling participles in on-screen emails when providing ad hoc IT support *wry grin*
Then I had my novel idea in 2008. I set the goal to write it within five years. I thought I was being overly generous. And the universe laughed and my life changed and changed again. But I didn’t stop writing.
I decided to attend more regional speculative fiction conventions and met a group that I really clicked with at ConCarolinas. I was also inspired by Allen Wold’s introductory workshop, and started my prompt-writing blog, WritersSpark.com, where I faithfully wrote the beginning of a new story every day for 18 months.
The next year, my ConCarolinas group talked about banding together as a writers’ group, the Roaring Writers–and we hatched the harebrained scheme to stick around after the next year’s Con for a writing retreat, which has become one of my most treasured weeks of each year since.
And then the universe laughed and my life changed again. And I stopped writing.
My editing work has grown since then, including acquisitions, as I’ve co-edited two short story anthologies about the “weird wild west” — which oddly enough made me an “expert” on the subject, so now I am a guest at most conventions I attend. But I am still struggling to get my writing back on track.
Slowly, I’ve made progress this year, not only toward completing existing work, but also new ideas are beginning to crowd in. My characters talk to me from the back seat of my car when I’m driving–frequently annoying! They’ve been increasingly chatty of late. I don’t think this is incipient schizophrenia…
When the Roaring Writers came up with the idea to start a blog to share our writing journeys and hopefully inspire, encourage, and help other writers, I felt an all-too-familiar rush of “imposter syndrome” because of my paucity of writing over the past couple of years. But as I’ve thought about it, I realized that while I may have stopped *writing* I didn’t really *quit* writing. The stories are still there, developing, and although it’s taken me far longer than I hoped, I know I will eventually share them with the world. My first published story will be out next year. My current work-in-progress (“WIP”) is almost complete with revisions from my ever-helpful beta readers, and then I will try to find its published home. And the ideas for my first novel are spilling out and demanding that I return to it.
So where am I on my “million words” journey? Without Janet’s organized record-keeping nor Ken’s mathy formula, I had to make some good-faith estimates:
Mira’s Children 62,900
Short Story WIPs 42,300
Sub Total 339,450
So, a little over 1/3 of the way to my first million…Say, I might be good some day! I know I have my moments, my turns of phrase. I know I have my weaknesses–my crutch words and “darlings” I’m not ready to kill. But I have not, as it turns out, stopped writing. Slowly, slowly, said the sloth…
I will get there.
I’d love to hear about your own “million words journey”! What are your challenges? Your successes? Your inspirations?