Bookproject update 002: 28,989 words

I guess there must be some writers so enthralled to the Muse that for them word counts simply don’t feature – just as there must be some able to blithely disregard their sales figures. Let me tell you, in neither case am I one of them.

Nah. I’ve got a positive thing about numbers, about external indices of accomplishment. In most contexts it’s undoubtedly a personality flaw, although it’s probably forgivable here:

As of 10.00 EST this date I’m on the verge of 30,000 words in, which strikes me as getting into the realm of seriousness. (Everyware, admittedly a slim volume, is only 70,000-odd words.) It’s true that Harlan Ellison once wrote a 40,000-word note complaining that he got paper bags at the local Ralph’s when he clearly asked for plastic, and there’s apparently a Thomas Pynchon “lost cat” flyer in circulation that runs to seventy-two-five, but I think we’re otherwise clearly talking book when we edge into this kind of numbers.

So today’s sitrep is just that: your book is taking on some of the first signs of real shape. Having some experience of book-writing now, I can tell you that some of that shape will be pruned back pretty mercilessly, as I decide whether one or another lengthy chunk actually pushes the book’s central argument any further down the rail, but the core is there.

I’d like to say that I’ll be posting at least one or two passages of useful length in the very near future, but if my experience with Everyware is any guide, longer arguments of any coherence don’t seem to emerge until relatively late in the game. And while I’m committed to open and public development, I’m not quite sure what would be served by posting 800-word fragments – fragments which, frankly, at the moment mostly serve as more or less resonant placeholders and reminders to myself. What I can say is this: when I feel like there’s something roughly chapter-length that I could use your help with, I’ll throw it up here. Deal?

That’s all for now.

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