August 31, 2011

Retrospectus

A month ago I sat at my computer feeling a little bit lost. I'd sent out the first "done" version of my first ever novel to a handful of agents, but had been largely ignored. I had a little bit of writer's block. Nothing seemed to be flowing, writing-wise, and I'd started to wonder if my first book wasn't a bit of a fluke. Something I could never again reproduce.

I felt like a one-hit wonder who never even had a hit.

So I decided to give myself a little challenge, and I did it in honor of the amazing students at Pattison's Academy here in Charleston, South Carolina. They inspired me to work to improve myself, if only for a little while, as hard as they work every day of their lives.

1000 words per day for a month. Maybe it doesn't sound like a lot, but some nights I thought my word limit was going to kill me. I'd sit here on my little corner of the couch with my cup of water at my side and absolutely nothing to say, but I'd force myself to get started. To write something.

Three nights out of the thirty I didn't write anything. Three nights. I couldn't even write for thirty days straight, but I tried.

And you know what? I learned a ton in the last month.

I learned how to write in a new voice for a new narrator, something I really wasn't sure I could do. I was afraid I had only one voice, but by now I know a new one. A new girl. I know how she speaks, what her voice sounds like, what she likes to think about, and I know exactly how to go back and edit what I wrote earlier in the month to sound exactly like I need her to sound.

I learned that I can generate a lot of content as long as I sit down and actually do it. Right? A little bit of discipline never hurt anybody, and it helped me go far.

How far, you might wonder. I wondered, too. I'm an estimator. Each night I'd check my word count before I shut down, and it was always...around 1000 words. Maybe a little more, maybe a little less. Some nights much more. So I figured it balanced out.

But I didn't know for sure. So tonight, I created a spreadsheet, pulled every blog entry from the past month (not including this one), and my total words written for each chunk of story I created, and I am SO excited to report my grand total word count from the last thirty days.

33,544 words.

Holy crap, I did it!! I surpassed my goal of 30,000 words!! I'm a little proud of myself. I've written a whole second section to the book I thought was done. It's so not done, not even now, but I have a lot more to blend into my original story, and I have the whole third section planned out. I wrote a lot of blog posts, thought about a lot of random topics, and maybe even made you think about some things.

But you know the most important outcome of the past thirty days? Well, go check out my fundraiser page for my 30 Days of Writing for Change Challenge. What do you see there?

Donors who have read this blog or kept up with my Facebook or Twitter feeds have given $670 to the kids at Pattison's Academy! It may only be a drop in the bucket, but that is YOUR drop! YOU did this. YOU helped me raise enough money to buy school supplies or therapy equipment for some of the most amazing kids I've ever seen. And I can't thank you, donors, enough! You are amazing! And if you're reading this now and have been meaning to give but keep forgetting, please know, they will still take donations via that page, or via the Pattison's home page. With tons of gratitude.

So to everyone who has supported me in the last month, I say thank you. To you, Charles, for putting up with me writing almost every stinking night, I love you. To every donor, you're incredible.

I am grateful. Tonight, oh so grateful.

And I have a ton more work to do, so I'll go ahead and get started. Tomorrow night. Same time, same place.

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