A pedant’s definition of ‘decimate’ is to dispose of one tenth of whatever one’s seeking to dispose of. I don’t know whether there’s an equivalent expression, to produce one tenth of whatever one’s seeking to produce. It would be quite useful at the moment.
On Thursday night I typed up several pages of longhand, and was immoderately pleased to find out that it tipped the word count of the new novel over the eight thousand mark. Eight thousand and seven, to be precise. This is particularly satisfying because Speak Its Name ended up at ‘about eighty thousand words’. And some basic maths will tell you that 8,000:80,000 translates neatly to 1:10.
This does not, of course, mean that the new book is one tenth finished. Speak Its Name went up to 115,000, after all – though I hope that I’ve got more of an idea of what I’m doing this time round. The current eight thousand and seven words don’t feel like a tenth of a book.
What I’ve got so far feels too nebulous, too insubstantial to be the backbone that ‘a tenth’ implies. That’s partly because I’m writing, as I always do, a scene here and a line there, a page from the beginning and a conversation from the end. I get one little snippet down on paper and it spawns three or four in completely different places in the plot.
At this stage I don’t think too much about structure; I just hang on as best I can and catch as much of it as possible. I’m not reading these words yet, because I don’t think they’d stand up to it. I’d either destroy them or get depressed. It doesn’t matter. There’s time. There’s plenty of time.
All the same: eight thousand words are down. Eight thousand out of eighty thousand – ish.