Steve Chatterton
Will Write for Food

Days 21-24: 3,252 Words and Rolling

May 21st, 2015 by Steve


Well, it’s been a hectic week so far. I’ve decided to compensate for this by neglecting my poor old blog. Why eat into what precious writing time I have by doing this any more than necessary?

So, in four days I’ve managed to pump out 3,252 words for an average of 813 words per day. I’m pretty happy with that. Sure, that’s nowhere the kind of output we could expect from the likes of Stephen King, Chuck Wendig or Kelly Armstrong, but for a stay-at-home dad with a side business and doctor’s appointments, I’m doing alright for just now.

The story’s gathering steam now. I don’t just sit there wondering what to do next. I’m actually starting to build a proper to-do list of scenes that need to be taken care of in the future. The only problem is the list is still in my head for the most part. I’m starting to fear I might forget something important. Then again, that’s what editing and revising are for. Right?

My main concern now is that I may have more of a long short story on my hands, or perhaps a short novella. I’m at 16k+ words, but I’m also at least half-way through the timeline. There will be a bit of a tag on at the end where events that happened before the timeline started will be explained to tie it all together, but I don’t see it amounting to much more than 35,000 words. A little more than a third of what folks are looking for in a proper novel.

Mind you, no one says this has to be a proper novel save me. I must remember not to get too caught up in something that is only real in my mind. The rest of the world will get on just find without finding out whatever happened to young Evan Howard. The main object at this stage of the game is to become a better writer. That’s it. If I come up with something that’s publishable at the end of all this, then yay for me, but if not it’ll just be time to tackle a new project and see how that one might help me grow.

I think the next project might be a series of interconnected short stories. Still working the crime fiction angle, the stories would all involve cops working in the same station house. A young detective who just made the leap from walking the beat to plain clothes. An older, jaded cop who makes very bad decisions. A couple of crime scene techs names Taggert and Baggott. That sort of thing. See where that goes.

I’m also building a big idea in the back of my head. It’s sci-fi, and it’s got a long timeline. Like 30+ years maybe. It’s quite possible that at the end of the arc no one that was alive in the first chapter will still be drawing breath. A Song of Fire and Ice in deep space, if you will. Game of Thrones meets Star Wars. But it’s massive and requires lots of plotting and family tree construction and world building and character development and story spining and all of that. So I might be ready to start writing it in my sixties, perhaps. Here’s hoping I have a nice, long life to see it through to the end.

But I digress like a mo-fo…

Today’s stats:

Daily total: 792
Accumulated total: 16,772
Average daily word count: 698.8333333333333 (Almost back to the 700 mark! Honestly, if I had just written 28 more words. I’ll try to get at least 728 tomorrow. That’ll do it. Yeah, that’s the ticket!)
Progress toward target: 18.43076923076923% (Although I’m no longer shackled to the idea this will be a 91,000 word novel, I just want to see how far I can get with this.)

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Days 18-20: 1151 Words

May 16th, 2015 by Steve


Dear blog that no one reads,

I realize I’ve been ignoring you lately. Sorry. Life and all that.

I’ve had a rather up and down few days. Actually they were more down and up perhaps. On Wednesday I only managed 280 words, 70 shy of the 350 baseline (I had work work cutting into my designated writing time, so the 700 wpd target had to be revised for the week). And I had my appointment with my cardiologist looming over me on Thursday. Fear of the unknown held me back creatively. Also, I managed to finish the scene I had been working on the day before, so it seemed a good place to stop.

Thursday was the cardiologist. I mentioned a little while back I paid a visit to the emergency room because my heart was acting wonky. This was the follow up to that. I had too much uncertainty to write that morning, plus I had the appointment itself eating into my writing time, so I just let it go. Zero words.

The appointment itself went really well. He told me I could stop taking my beta-blockers because he didn’t think I was at great risk to reoffend. Apparently my heart is much stronger than previously indicated and I don’t have much to worry about. I have a few tests coming up to get a much clearer idea of what’s going on, but he said he doesn’t expect to be seeing much of me once we have that all taken care of.

Armed with that positive prognosis, my son and I worked on his Star Wars fan-fic after school. We pumped out close to 700 words, which is remarkably productive for a collaboration with a ten-year old (in my experience, at least). I love watching the wheels turn in his brain as we put this all together, and I love how excited he is about it. We got over the 3,000 word mark in this session, and he wondered aloud how many words we’d have by the time we were done. “Maybe even 5,000 words,” he said. You never know, little dude. You never know.

Friday was more productive. I bashed out 931 words, and managed to make myself a little queasy in the process. I found myself writing a rather dull scene, so I said “what if” and before you know it the mundane scenario of people searching a field and coming up with nothing became a false alarm where someone finds something by accidentally stepping into remains (coyote, not human) and getting his foot stuck under the ribcage. Even thinking back to it now makes me well aware of where my stomach is and that it’s a good thing I haven’t eaten breakfast yet. So, yeah, here’s hoping I got some good stuff out of it.

So, here we are four weeks into my possibly 26 week project. That’s what, a seventh of the way through? Here’s how the stats play out…

Today’s stats:

Daily total: 931
Accumulated total: 13,520
Average daily word count: 676 (Eek!)
Progress toward target: 14.85714285714286%

Okay, so I’ve let my daily average slip with taking work that compromises writing time, and that gets worse next week because I’m doing it again. But I can make it up. No worries. Just write a little more that 700 words every day after I’ve got this little job out of the way and it’ll be smooth sailing.

If you look at the progress report, I’m almost at 15%. If you could see the Project Statistics window in Scrivener, you’d see that the red progress bar has started to take on the subtlest hints of orange as it progresses on it’s way from red to yellow and eventually to green. Oh yeah, baby.

In the meantime, it’s Victoria Day Weekend. The Avengers, barbecue and the lawnmower are calling my name. I will find time to write on Monday (this is me making a solemn promise to myself now) and maybe even sometime over the weekend proper as well.

If you’re actually read this, thanks. I’ll see you next week.

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Day 17: 773 Words for the Price of 350

May 12th, 2015 by Steve


I took on some extra work with my dog walking business for the next couple of weeks that eats into my writing time slightly, because, well, you know, I got to help put food on the table somehow. Anyway, I’ve given myself permission to write a little less than normal for days like this, going back to my original Chuck Wendig-recommended 350 wpd.

So, as luck would have it, I got on a roll anyway and knocked out 773 words. I even got to the place where I had to stop mid-paragraph and just walk away. I just ran out of time. I’m in the middle of my main detective DeGraaf telling her partner something crucial about her past, some driving component of her character that also gives her better-than-average knowledge of the stages of hypothermia, and I think it’s just going to have to wait until tomorrow.

And it’s not just because Hemingway advises to finish writing by noon (he also recommends getting drunk by three, something I’m unlikely to follow his lead on). It’s because I find I do my best writing in the morning. And I do my best writing when I’ve had something to think about — either consciously of subconsciously — overnight. So I’m going to push this scene to the back-burner while I worry about getting my son to the orthodontist, getting dinner on the table, and all that jazz.

Today’s stats:

Daily total: 773
Accumulated total: 12,309
Average daily word count: 724.0588235294118
Progress toward target: 13.52637362637363%

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Day 16: 854 Words Slogged Out

May 11th, 2015 by Steve


Today was a slog. Apparently that’s the way it goes in first draft land, and I’ve resigned myself to this fact.

I read somewhere about an author who slogged away at one book for years, going back and re-working the first part of the book a million times when he had no clue how to finish it. Apparently it wasn’t until he forced himself to finally get through to the end that he realized what shape the story really needed to be in, and that helped the second draft go much quicker.

I tried looking up the reference. Couldn’t find it, you’ll just have to trust me.

The lesson for today is: sometimes you’re tired, and you don’t know what you’re going to write, and you don’t know where it should go. Sit your butt down anyway, think through your fingers (to paraphrase Asimov) and just see what happens. It’s a first draft. If it doesn’t work out, no one needs to know.

Today’s stats:

Daily total: 854
Accumulated total: 11,536
Average daily word count: 721
Progress toward target: 12.67692307692308%

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Day 15: 704 Words for a Grand Total of 10,666 Words

May 8th, 2015 by Steve


10,666. That’s a good, woody number. Sort of a cross between the Battle of Hastings and the Number of the Beast. A solid, downright portentous number. I like it when I can say to myself, “Self, that’s a good place to stop for the day,” and I’ve actually just cleared my daily minimum wordcount and hit a good, woody total wordcount number.

It was another of those get up early because there’s going to be lots to do and a whole lot of people in the house kind of days, so I rose around 5:30 to tackle today’s writing task. Then I cooked breakfast for everyone, made my son’s lunch, got the boy off to school, walked the dog, found my wife’s missing mitten on a path, emailed her a photo of the mitten to make sure it was hers, went back for it when she confirmed that it was indeed hers, and then came home to work on laundry, marinate some chicken (olive oil, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, Dijon, salt, pepper, garlic and diced fresh rosemary) before settling down with a cuppa (tea, Earl Grey, hot!).

The missing mitten in question

The missing mitten in question, just how I found it

I think the rest of the day will bring wrapping Mother’s Day gifts, praying to the Amazonian deities that her last present arrives today (no post on Saturdays (in Canada), Harry), walking other people’s dogs, and maybe settling down with an Ian Rankin novel to catch up on how Inspector Rebus is doing figuring out who killed the Russian poet. And then, of course, I’ll get up at least fifty times for no other reason to let at least one of our dogs through the back door. Such is my life (but I love it so).

This weekend, I’ll try to think up some stuff for my characters to do next week while making breakfast for my darling wife.

Today’s stats:

Daily total: 704
Accumulated total: 10,666
Average daily word count: 711.0666666666667
Progress toward target: 11.72087912087912%

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