NaNoWriMo 2020 has come and gone, with all its usual emphasis on wordcounts and getting things done. As has become tradition for me, I’ve used the pressure of social media to galavanise myself into hammering away at the current project. Last year I managed the full 50,000 words. This year my monthly total was only 39,000. Luckily that was all I needed to finish what I’ve been working on since mid-September. At 90,175 words, The Engines of Eden is in completed first draft form.
For the whole project, this is my highest average words per day rate, at 1200. There were only a few days I didn’t get a chance to write, and overall I think I’ve found my stride in terms of raw time spent at the keyboard. It’s a good speed to get things done, allowing for distractions and side projects (there have been three short pieces written at the same time) and its not so intense as to burn me out. I’ll admit, some days were a struggle, but never an insurmountable obstacle. My approach to planning has also met a happy middle between absolute adherence to a plan that doesn’t work, and being utterly lost as to how to get from A to B.
For The Engines of Eden I purposefully focused on characters, knowing this would come at the expense of plot. The plot’s not bad, but it definitely has more holes than I would like. In terms of character work, however, I can happily say this is my best work to date. I think I’ve finally cracked how to get those precious interactions while keeping my usual themes and style relatively intact. I’ve definitely learned a lot from writing this, and I’m sure these lessons will inform my work for a long time to come yet.
Those ninety-thousand words mark the crossing of another threshold. Since graduating from university, I have now written 500,000 words of novel-length fiction, unevenly distributed across five distinct projects. Half a million words is a lot, and though there have been a few stumbles along the way, the general trend has been upwards in terms of quality. The Engines of Eden is a country mile better than Run red the Stars, although there are segments and ideas I would happily pluck from all of my previous works. Reuse, Recycle and Rewrite.
The Engines of Eden will now sit by the wayside for a few months, and then I’ll likely look at revising it. None of my projects have yet made it beyond a first draft, but this is one that has real potential. In the meantime, I’ll be moving on to something new. Something bold and exciting and shiny. I’m not entirely sure what that something is yet, but I’m already making the necessary notes.
Five hundred thousand words is enough to convince me that maybe I can get something out there for the public. Probably not a career, at least no a full-time one, but that dream is edging closer to becoming a goal. Maybe once I double that, I’ll have something worthy of an agent’s attention.