Sunday, January 18, 2009


I have just had a blissful thirteen-day writing streak....

Starting on Jan. 6, which was the first day I could really and properly sit down to write new pages rather than still typing and cleaning up the chunk of draft I wrote in August, I have met my quota every day.

(It has more to do with pages covered than with word count, since I'm writing in a notebook rather than on a computer, but I suppose quota falls in the region of 1500 words a day - I have found that if I do more than that, the quality plummets and it becomes significantly less likely that I will write again the next day.)

The first half of the pages were written here and the rest were written here. (Crepes!)

(It is important for me to go somewhere I can't be distracted by the internet. I prefer doing first drafts in longhand, but I also have an excellent and slightly hilarious anti-procrastination device for typing - the Alphasmart! I last used it extensively before I had a laptop, while transcribing sources for the breeding book in the Rare Books and Manuscripts room at the British Library. It is a very loud and clattery keyboard, and I regret to observe that several gentlemen contemplated its effects with absolute dismay - I do not blame them, I feel certain it was very annoying!)

And now I both superstitiously and pragmatically feel that I will only be able to meet my Feb. 2 deadline for The Snow Queen if I continue to write new pages every single day without exception until I am finished. I was toying with the idea of taking this coming Tuesday off, so that I could redirect my attention to the first day of classes, but I think it would be a fatal error!

So I've written the hours into my appointment book....

I am not at all complaining, things are good with me right now and it will be the best of all possible things if I can acquit myself honorably and make this deadline and actually for the first time in many years not have a book submission deadline hanging over me, but it is not helpful to the novel-writing cause that the next two weeks are pretty much the busiest of the whole school year and that I am running a marathon in seven weeks which will be utterly horrible if I do not get on track with my long runs!

For those with an interest in the eighteenth-century novel, here's the list of books I'm asking my spring seminar students to buy (there are other readings also, including excerpts from Clarissa and Tristram Shandy and quite a bit of criticism).

I need to post a catch-up account of various light reading round here, only it is more pressing right now to get out of the house for my 12-miler before it gets too much later!

I might try and have a second writing session this evening, though usually I do not, because I am excited to report that the European Federation is as we speak invading Denmark, and within twelve hours Sophie and Mikael will be evacuating on their bicycles (Sophie's has been customized with a basket for carrying the cat who appeared at the end of The Explosionist under the name Blackie but whose real name turns out to be Trismegistus) via Elsinore (Hamlet!) and a ferry to Stockholm, where they will stay in Mr. Petersen's dreary rented lodgings for a few days - at least until Mikael vanishes and Sophie has to track him up north into Swedish Lapland and to the Snow Queen's Spitzbergen lair....

I am very, very excited that I am almost at the part where I finally get to write about reindeer!


  1. That penultimate paragraph with its tasty hints is wicked!

  2. Half-way point on the calendar I see.
    What, no jinx superstition/convention?

  3. Monica: Yes!

    Brent: You are teasing me! I did not even think of it (?!?)... In fact that count was from Tuesday, so tomorrow (Monday) is day 14 on the first stint, so not quite. What is interesting is that I have now gone back and counted the days from my first stint of writing in August - they were spread over the entire month, but that was 14 days of writing also. So I wrote the first third then, the middle third just now and have the final sweep (which is perhaps the most important third, but probably a bit shorter than the others) to finish up over the rest of the month - each third is about 20,000 words, and it should come in roughly around 65,000 once I put all the pieces together...

    I am long-winded in this musing!!!

  4. I have spent a number of evenings at Artopolis working on various things! Too funny...

  5. We have the same day/week book! Why are to-do lists and schedules so fascinating? Thanks for sharing your scaffolding. I CAN sit at the desk from 8 - 10, or rather, 9 - 11.

    Best wishes for Antarctican marathon - I am very jealous!