When I first started working on the manuscript for Shady Palms, I created my cover sheet which lists my name, contact information, the title of the work, the genre and approximate word count. As a goal for myself I typed “Goal: 70,000 Words” in light grey beneath the word count. One of the cool things about most word processing programs is that they automatically count the words in a manuscript for you and some of them let you insert that data into your document. I am currently typing the novel with Microsoft Word…yes, I could hear some of the Apple fanatics gasping. While the “Word Count” of any document is always an estimated number, its a pretty damn close estimate.
I was extremely happy with myself when I looked up tonight and realized I had just crossed the half-way point for the goal I had set for myself. That’s right, I’m staring at “Approx 35,001 Words” at the top of my manuscript! Okay, its just a first draft, but at least it’s something. If a writer never sets goals for themselves they’ll never write anything.
While I am not working as much at the hospital as I normally do, mainly because of our seasonal slowdown in admission rates, I have tried my damndest to work as much as I can on the novel on my days off. I feel that, at the least, I have been able to move the story ahead on a weekly basis. I wish I could pound out novels at the pace Stephen King can, but maybe one day with a shitload of hard work and bloody fingertips I will be able to.
One of the biggest reasons I had started on the novel was because I felt I wasn’t giving my characters justice in a screenplay format. After living with them running around my head for 8 months, I am finally beginning to feel like I actually know these people. Due to the nature of the beast I have to kill a few off and critically injure some others, but I’ve already determined who my survivors are going to be so they can live another day in another story. To stoke the fire a little bit I dropped a hint at what one of my characters next adventures may be. It may take a few years for him to get there, but it will be well worth the long wait.
For a moment there, I was thinking I would never meet my personal goal of having the first draft completed by December. It’s baby steps like these that help keep my goals within reach.