2013 – Year in Review
Part 3 – A Certain Kind of Writing Report:
By way of background information for any uninitiated readers: I am currently working on a novel entitled A Certain Kind of Weird. I hate trying to describe the plot of the novel because I can’t make it sound exciting at all, but the basic idea is that it follows the everyman protagonist through a normal yet eventful week; it’s narrated in the first person with each chapter consisting of a single day. Okay, wake up now. I began the novel in 2002 as a freshman at BYU and continued working on it until I left for my two-year LDS mission to Brazil in August 2003. At that point, I had completed slightly less than 2.5 chapters, but I was confident that I would hop right back in the saddle and finish my novel within a year of returning to the States. Well, that didn’t happen. I did my best to resume writing but soon found that going to school and working a part-time job and trying to have a social life made it very difficult to do much writing at all. Eventually it reached the point where I felt so removed from my novel that I began to doubt whether I would ever finish it. I couldn’t figure out how to reconcile the differences in who I was when I started the novel as a nineteen year old kid and who I was as an older student and later college graduate. Even with that mental obstacle, my novel, especially the characters, were never far from my mind. Finally, near the end of 2010, I realized that not only could I finish my novel, but that I had lived more and experienced more and was better prepared to understand my protagonist and what he goes through. If ever I had one of those “ah-ha” light bulb turning-on moments, that was it.
With that mental hurdle cleared, I spent all of 2011 thinking about my novel, rereading my first draft and compiling all of my notes and outlines, re-conceptualizing the plot and characters, and preparing myself to begin rewriting my novel from the very beginning. I knew I couldn’t just pick up where I had left off, not after that long of a hiatus. Finally, in April of 2012, about a month and a half before I started dating the one-and-only Melissa Thompson, I began the rewrite of A Certain Kind of Weird. (I should mention that at that point we had been hanging out away from work, and, as Melissa likes to claim, she had already begun exercising her muse-like influence upon me).
I wrote at the beginning of the year that 2012 needed to be my year of actual writing, not just thinking about writing. Unfortunately, 2012 was not the year of writing; it was more like a few good months of writing. 2013, it turns out, came much closer to being the year of writing, but it still fell a few months short of being a complete year of writing. Something about getting engaged, planning a wedding, then actually getting married, and starting an all-new phase of life threw off my writing routine. I know – excuses, excuses, excuses. I’m not trying to shift the blame for my periods of inactivity at all. I’ll own up to it. I just think anyone who’s attempted any kind of long-term creativity knows how essential routines are and how hard it can be to restart one once it’s fallen by the wayside.
Nonetheless, I am pleased with the progress I made in 2013. By the end of the year, I was well into the fourth chapter of my novel, which might not seem like much, but trust me, that translates into many handwritten pages. You’re probably asking yourself, “What kind of weirdo still writes by hand?” This weirdo does. It just works better for me, slows my brain down to the optimal speed for composing. I later go through and type up my handwritten pages. I’m quite a ways behind in typing up my work, but let it suffice to say that by the end of the year, my novel was at least 100,000 words total, most of that written in 2013. The realization just struck me that at this point I have written enough for a book, just not enough for my book. That’s both satisfying and disheartening. Oh well.
Here are a few quantifiable stats from 2013 that I can pass on:
- Total time spent writing: 115 hours and 56 minutes – that’s 6,956 minutes in case you’re curious. And yes, I do track stuff like this.
- Total pages written: 452.5 – unfortunately, that number is spread rather disproportionately throughout the year.
- Best month for writing: October. I wrote for 24 hours and 5 minutes and completed 99.75 pages. It killed me later to see how close I was to 100 pages that month. If I’d written for just another minute or two I would have had it. I didn’t let myself round that number up to 100 because I wanted to hit that mark legitimately. (Spoiler alert: I already have in 2014).
- Worst month for writing: September – a whopping 3 pages in 59 minutes. Yip, total turd of a month. However, perhaps it was my abysmal showing in September that prompted my renewed efforts in October and throughout the rest of the year.
So what’s the prognostication for 2014? It might be too early to say, but I have a feeling that 2014 is going to be the fabled year of writing for me. As I’ve already let on, things are going pretty well. I believe that if I stick to my current routine, I will definitely finish the first draft of my novel in 2014, which is a pretty big deal for me. After that I’ll have the daunting task of revising this thing into a taut and engaging work, which, with my long-windedness, will be like whittling a toothpick out of a redwood. Oddly enough, I’m looking forward to it. I must be a glutton for punishment.
Though perhaps the truly afflicted will be anyone unfortunate enough to read my book at some future point. To that poor soul, perhaps reading these very words right now, I apologize in advance.
But not really.
That’s it, folks. The end of my three-part year in review.