Progression Obsession

At this moment I am typing in a document called The Stream II and I have logged a word-count of 24,325 since the file was created on 9 August. Four days after I created this document I started posting on social media photos of my daily word-count, numbers which have varied widely over the last couple of weeks.

Before I sat down to start writing this morning I checked my phone for text messages and emails, then opened my Instagram app. I had a comment from a friend regarding a weekly word-count photo: “So what if you just typed or wrote the same sentence over and over? Is word count relevant? Or story progression? Asking for a friend.”

To her comment I replied: “Actually, I just type the same two sentences over and over: ‘I can’t write a book. It’s too hard.'”

This friend, one of my most ardent supporters (in life, not just writing, but especially when it comes to my writing), meant no harm, and though the comment was supposed to evoke a chuckle and elicit a non-rueful, “Touché!” from me, it almost hit so close to home that I wanted to throw myself on my bed and cry my eyes out for a week or so.

But man did I ever need to read that comment on this morning. I can’t thank @houseofstaci enough.

Reason being? I truly have gotten nowhere meaningful regarding actual progress on this project. And I have been trying desperately and have thought many times that I was kicking ass and taking names, only to discover a few days later that when I was thinking I was really, truly “getting there,” I had only been high on creative flow and now strange boxes were being delivered to my psyche via amazon.fml.

Most first drafts can wrack up a fair number of false-starts. This is all part of the process. I know this. No writer would ever deny that things can go very badly for a very long time at the beginning of a writing project. Things can continue going badly in the middle and sometimes they keep going badly as the end seems nearer.

And we just accept this. Because ART.

However, some days I feel like the defining characteristic of my entire existence as a writer could be illustrated with a chart of false-starts laid against a word-count that has reached the heavens and then toppled over and showered detritus upon my head.

This is why I wince to even call myself a writer. Oh, I write! Boy, do I ever write. And write and write and write, all at the expense, it often seems, of getting any usable copy committed to the page.

So today I will be candid* about “progress” versus PROGRESS, BABY! (* I have never not been honest about it.)

All I have of any worth – that I can point out right now, without digging through 24,793 words (should I stop keeping track?) – is a temporary nameplate (Dinner at the Wonder Bar, still an awesome working title; I have no problem owning that), and 264 words that comprise the final scene of what I am working on. (Something I’ve never done while writing; maybe this will give my draft a special protective coating?)

So, anyway: thanks again, Staci Mae (a/k/a Cyan, a/k/a Stack-Eye Roberts, a/k/a Ramona)!

Also: keep tuning in. This isn’t over. And I still have about 15 or 20 years left to write about that fact.