Words, pages – who’s counting?
I am, and obsessively so. I’ve tried to work out averages and it’s not easy to do. What’s the average paperback length? What’s the average word count per page? What does that work out as when you multiply it by pages? Why am I so worried about it?
If trying to work out averages and finding it hard to do so should teach me anything, it’s that every novel, every story, is different and it doesn’t really matter whether it’s fifty or a hundred thousand words. It doesn’t matter whether it’s three hundred or a thousand pages. There will be as many words, as many pages as the story needs.
I think I’ve heard too many times and probably in fiction anyway, that a publisher has paid an advance for the next hundred thousand words and am trying to somehow live up to that imaginary requirement. I don’t have a publisher. I don’t have a brief to fulfil. I have a vision in my head that wants to be written down and that is all.
Of course the dream is that a publishing house snaps up my vision and then I sell the movie rights and retire on it. But that’s just as imaginary as the brief I’m somehow writing to, especially if I spend so much time counting that I never write anything!
I’ve passed the half-way mark in my self-imposed requirements and I’m trying not to view that in still a long way to go sort of way. I don’t find it a chore. I love writing. I love it when I read back over what I’ve written and think actually, I wrote that and I’m really pleased with it. Why then do I always return to the reasons to be hard on myself? Is that normal writerly (yes, I know that’s not really a word but it should be) behaviour? Is it just that these days everyone has the means to voice their opinions on these things so publicly? There are an awful lot of question marks in this post! Do, please comment whether you have an answer or another question for the pot. I can’t be the only one that worries about achieving an unspecified goal.