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sunflowerI've set a new pace for the novel I'm working on now. I'm writing at least 2,280 words/day. It's not a random number. When I started the book, I figured I wanted it to be about 100,000 words and I wanted it to be finished by November 1st. Once I did the math, I had my daily goal. I guess that means I set aside about 44 days for the book. I'm not sure when I set the goal. Hunting Tree took about twice that long to write. Vivisectionist took almost five months. Extinct took about a year, but I was tackling other things at the same time.

I don't think the outcome is much different. I believe the books come out roughly the same whether it takes me twelve months or 1.5 months. Blood Ghost only took about seven weeks, and I think it's pretty close to the tone of Hunting Tree. The pace is a little slower, maybe, but that's because Blood Ghost is about a family's approach to crisis. Hunting Tree was the collision of colossal forces. 

Back to the point--I started this post because I thought it might be fun to document the books I've written and approximately how long it took me to write them.

  1. 1. Vivisectionist - 5 months
  2. 2. Eight-Cell Stage (unpublished) - 4 months
  3. 3. The Hunting Tree - 3 months
  4. 4. Spelunking (unpublished) - 4.5 months
  5. 5. Lies of the Prophet - 3.5 months
  6. 6. Dinner (unpublished) - 6 months
  7. 7. Extinct - 12 months
  8. 8. Constantine (unpublished) - 4 months
  9. 9. Blood Ghost - 1.5 months
  10. 10. Fyre (unpublished) - 1.5 months
  11. 11. Director's Cut (unpublished) - 1.5 months

I'm currently planning to publish Director's Cut next, although I'm sure I'll change the name before I do. It might be called Migrators. That would reveal an interesting pattern. I don't bother to publish the even numbered novels. I plan to come back around on Constantine eventually, but it's a long, long, long book and I think it needs a lot of work before it sees the light. I have no intention of ever putting out Fyre (get it?), or Dinner. If I'm on pace to produce six (maybe seven) novels per year, and I put the odd numbered ones on the shelf, then will three novels per year sustain me? No! Not unless I grow my readership significantly. 

I'm really excited about the book I'll start in a few days. I can't say anything about it, of course. The second I say something about it, it starts to shrivel in my mind, shrinking into nothing as reality stomps on possibility. I'd rather stomp on the possibility with words on the page, instead of by solidifying loose concepts before they're ready to see the light. 

Twenty-some years ago, when I moved to Maine, I wanted to write a book. I wrote some pages about a guy who had a dog and a house. Nothing happened. I was just describing the curtains and waiting for the guy to do something, but he had breakfast and then went for a walk. The dog was old. When the man returned, the kitchen was a little too warm because of the sun coming through the window. Nothing happened. I stopped writing and began working as a process engineer for an electronics manufacturing plant.

When I returned to writing, years later, that dog and the man had both moved out of the house. I don't know what happened to either one of them. I started writing about another house with a kid. Terrible things happened in that book. By the time I got to Hunting Tree, I realized that I didn't even have to plan the terrible things. If I just put the words down through my fingers, the terrible things would begin happening on their own. Sometimes they were so bad that I had to go back and erase them. When a book is going well, I'm excited to return to the keyboard because I want to know what happens next. 

This is about 650 words more than it should have taken to say something simple: I want to keep writing. I'd like to finish about a hundred books and then see if I'm out of ideas yet. I've got about 200 in my idea folder, but I haven't been using them because I keep thinking of new ideas. Oops, I lied, I just checked and I have 385 ideas. Some of them I will never use, I'm sure. I can't use the one about the woman who kills her infant son. She's convinced that he's gay because he won't breastfeed (and she really wants him to because it inappropriately satisfies her, if you know what I mean). I don't see an application for that story. Although there would be some interesting avenues to explore. No, forget it. That combination of incest & infanticide wouldn't be enjoyable to read or write.

That's a weird way to end a post, so I will. I like to take a sharp left turn just before signing off.