Tidiness as a life plan
All signs point to me being offered a job soon. There are very few reasons why I wouldn’t accept such an offer and we still need to get through that part, but I’m thinking positively that we’ll work it out. So if I get a job offer this week or next, I’d probably start within about three weeks. Let’s say, just to be tidy, that I would start this job on August 31. (It’s especially tidy since my last day of work three years ago was on September 1. Isn’t that exceptionally tidy?) Let’s say that I’m the kind of person who likes tidiness in all aspects of her life. Let’s say that I’d like to go back to work one day shy of three years to the day I left my old office job having written not one but TWO books. How tidy would that be? Two books in three years would be—how do you say in the English?—vindicating. Affirming. (Stick-it-in-your-eyeing to one person in particular who told me once that he had planned to finish his novel in the break he took between jobs. Except he only had one month between jobs. Apparently he found that too difficult a chore. Apparently? Writing is hard.) Two books in three years. Yes, I would like that very much. It would be the tidiest of tidy ways to go back to work.
The math. My first draft needs to be somewhere around 80,000 words just to have a fighting chance at being the right kind of draft. I’m at 64,236 words now. I have a lot of revision to do throughout, of course, but to get to the end of this first draft and to 80,000 words, I need to write 15,764 words more. If August 31 is the real date, that gives me 23 writing days to finish. (This is counting weekends, but subtracting the days my husband and I are going to Pittsburgh to visit friends. No writing gets done on days like that.) That means that if I write every single one of those 23 days, I only have to produce 685 words each day to get to 80,000. (One would hope that I’d also be wrapping up all the plot at that point, but for theory’s sake, let’s go with it. It’s tidy.) If I miss a single day, that means I have to produce 716 words each day. If I leave out weekends (although I shouldn’t leave out weekends), then I’ll need to produce 927 words a day instead.
In summary, if I can write a thousand words a day every working day until the end of this month, I will have written two books (and change—don’t forget the uncollected short stories!) in three years. I like the sound of that too much not to do it.
It’s on. I didn’t even count today, but why not start now?