I have never been to the famous Clarion workshop for writers of speculative fiction, but it’s always been near the top of the list of things I’ll do the moment I find myself possessed of infinite time and money. I’m grateful, as both a reader and a writer, that Clarion and other writers’ resources exist.
So I’ve signed up for just the kind of nerdy, sedentary fundraiser that appeals to me: the annual Clarion West Write-a-thon, a kind of shadow event to the workshop, in which more than 225 writers around the world set goals for themselves between June 18 and July 27. You can support those writers in the usual ways — cups of strong tea, words of encouragement, honest beta-reads — and you can also, during the next few weeks, support them by donating a little or a lot to Clarion.
I’m one of those writers; here’s my page where you can read more about it and also, if you like, donate. You can follow my progress here on my blog and I’ll probably update my Clarion page from time to time too.
It works out nicely, as I had already made a vow to write 1,000 words a day on my novel draft.
It’s a bit of a stretch for me; until recently I’d been averaging about 400 words a day, and that already required some serious willpower, given my day job and the fact that my toddler is not the type to settle down nicely in his room at 7:30 and give me an evening to write.
Still, I feel 1,000 words is a good commitment to make at this point. I started this book about three years ago, and then took several months “off” when my son was born, and then a year to rewrite an earlier novel. So this has been kicking around for long enough. I’ve set myself a deadline to get the novel into publishable form by November, which means I need to get the first draft in shape by the end of the summer at the latest.
The first 40,000 words were a slog, and I rewrote them a bunch of times, and took long breaks to rethink the plot and work out serious problems with it. I think, though, that the rest of the first draft should be a lot smoother, because I took the time to get the beginning right – well, not right, not yet, but a solid first draft. I’m at more than 58,000 words now, and I have a pretty good sense where I’m going.
If I meet my 1,000 word a day goal, by the end of the Write-a-thon at the end of July I’ll be closing in on 100,000 words, and that should be close to the end of the first draft.
I’m going to try my very best. But I recognize that there could be some days when it’s simply not going to happen; if my little boy gets sick or life gets seriously in the way in some similar fashion, well, that’s the way it goes. But the next day, I’m back on the horse.
I’m also more interested in making sure I get a good first draft then in meeting my word-count goal, so if a day comes when I need to spend some time outlining or re-thinking or staring out the window, I’ll do that. But I don’t think that will be necessary, or at least not often. I find that the best way to figure out what I’m going to write next is just to sit down and write it.
More to come.