Reading, Writing, and Math
by Jane Davitt
Word limits are useful when I write, but sometimes they’re an ever-receding goal. For instance, for this post, I have a limit of 500-750 words. I aim to give good value and I’m an over-achiever, so let’s go for 750. What do I have to say that can fill 750 words?
Let’s break this down.
I’m a fan of drabbles. They’re short stories that have to be 100 words exactly, not counting title. 101 won’t cut it and neither will 99. So this is seven and a half drabbles long.
Would it be easier if it were longer? A story has a shape to it. A beginning, a middle, and, of course, in my line of work, not just an ending but a happily ever after. So assuming a novel is around 80-100,000 words, if you’re at 60,000 and the lead characters haven’t had any contact at all, there could be a problem. Pacing takes practice, but after a while you get a feel for it.
A daily word limit helps to keep me on track. I do some math. A book of say 80,000 words needs to be handed in on such and such a date. That’s 65 days away. Let’s ignore weekends; I’m always busy then with the family around me, jobs to do, soccer to watch if it’s that time of the year, food shopping to take care of. Stuff. So that leaves me with 57 working days. A tap or two on the calculator and I need to do 1403 words a day. Let’s round up to allow for days when I can’t write. Call it 1500.
No, wait. That’s pathetic. 2000! Yes! I can do 2000. My daughter and husband leave at eight. An hour to dress, tidy up, and see to my Neopets (addicted to Neopets do not judge me!) and I can start writing at nine. I have peace and quiet until 2.30. Allowing for coffee breaks and lunch, that gives me, uh, four hours to write. Oh, I can slurp coffee and write at the same time. Four and a half hours.
More math. 2000 divided by 270, then multiplied by 60 is 444.444444 words an hour.
That is so easy! A little over a drabble every fifteen minutes.
Day one usually goes well. I greet my family with a beaming smile and announce the good news; 2,312 words!
Day two, I read them over, tweak, change, edit, and lose 56 of them before I start. Darn. Halfway through the day, I realize I need to research the wildflowers of Patagonia and bam, there goes a chuck of precious time.
Day three, I’m blocked.
Day four, breakthrough! I write 4,000 words and love the world.
Day five, on a roll. The characters are alive, words pour out of my head and I can’t type fast enough to keep up. I use my two middle fingers and stare down at the keyboard which is probably why. It’s touch typing of sorts, but not really.
Day six my back aches so much I can barely sit at the computer. Writing doesn’t burn many calories but it’s hell on the back and hands. It’s the weekend though, so I relax.
Monday rolls around and I sigh and chip out a grudging couple of hundred. I’ll make it up tomorrow. Or maybe Wednesday.
Rinse and repeat.
And it sounds as if I hate my job. That it’s a chore. And it isn’t. I’ve been writing for over a decade now and nothing can stop me. I began in fanfic and moved to original m/m novels and made writing my career, but it was the first step that was the important one.
Once you discover the high of sharing a jumble of thoughts with another person through the medium of words (it’s like telepathy! How cool is that?) there’s no going back. There’s a scene in a Robert Heinlein book called ‘The Cat Who Walks Through Walls’ where a writer gets married and his wife asks if he enjoys writing.
“No one enjoys writing,” he replies.
She points out that she’s rich, so he can stop.
“Thank you, my love. But I did not explain to you the other insidious aspect of writing. There is no way to stop. Writers go on writing long after it becomes financially necessary…because it hurts less to write than it does to stop.”
Writing this didn’t hurt. Much. But I’ve reached 750 words now, so I’ll stop.
About Life Under New Management
This is the third book in Totally Bound’s Totally Five Star imprint, set in glamorous hotels around the world.
Working for a perfectionist like strict, sexy-as-hell Ethan isn’t easy. Falling in love with him? No problem at all.
Taking a bar job in an exclusive hotel is a stopgap for Andy. He’s an actor and his big break is coming soon—he knows it. His hot, new boss, Ethan, is strict, demanding and totally off-limits, but Andy can’t stop thinking about him.
When Andy learns of Ethan’s need to be in control of his partner—in bed and out of it—he’s stunned by the intensity of his reaction. He wants Ethan guiding him, bringing order to his chaotic life. And he sees that Ethan needs him too, though they can’t be open about their feelings.
Ethan deals out deliciously perverse consequences for misbehaving, but when it comes to incentives, he knows just what to offer to have Andy on his knees begging for more.
But some secrets can’t stay that way for long. And when difficult choices arise, for once Andy can’t turn to Ethan for guidance. This time, he’s on his own.
Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of intense pain play, including the use of a Wartenberg wheel and figging.
About Jane Davitt
Jane Davitt is English, and has been living in Canada with her husband, two children, and two cats, since 1997. Writing and reading are her main occupations but if she ever had any spare time she might spend it gardening, walking, or doing cross stitch.
Jane has been writing since 2005 and wishes she’d started earlier. She is a huge fan of SF, fantasy, erotica, and mystery novels and has a tendency to get addicted to TV shows that get cancelled all too soon.
She owns over 4,000 books, rarely gives any away, but is happy to loan them, and is of the firm opinion that there is no such thing as ‘too many books’.
Enter Totally Bound’s competition for a chance to win a copy of Life Under New Management and a $5 TB gift card! Click here to enter!
Don’t forget to check out JustJen’s review of Life Under New Management to see what she thought of it!