It’s been quiet on the Afthead blog lately, and for a very good reason. I’ve been writing elsewhere. I went to go see one of my top 10 favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, speak at an event called Pen and Podium. For two hours he told us stories of becoming a writer, read to us from his newest book of short stories, gave advice to aspiring writers, and answered questions from the audience. It was surreal to see him standing up in front of me. Normally his melodic English accent emminates from the heat vents in my car while he narrates his audiobooks. I took away four things:
- He said that all aspiring writers should call themselves writers. If you are writing you are a writer.
- He said that all writers should write something, finish it, and get it out “there” wherever there is.
- He told a story about how if he hadn’t become a published author he imagined he would find himself at 80 saying, “You know I really think I could have been a writer.”
- He mentioned a project that he “didn’t have time for” so he stopped reading before bed and wrote 50 words before he went to sleep.
I’ve heard the first one before and really struggle to embrace that message. I don’t feel like a writer, and when all the writers gathered around after the session I didn’t chime in about my blog and my novel. However, the other three really made me sit down and prioritize. I’ve got a novel to finish, and while I love this space and love my friends I’ve made here – you especially Amie and Kathy – I also need to keep writing there. So I took a break from Afthead and churned out 4500 words in 9 days, bringing me to a whopping 83,800 words in my novel. (Not a Stephen King-esque pace, but darn good for me.)
I think I can be finished in another 7,000 words (10,000 tops) and that would be a great first draft length. I’m a taker-outer, not a putter-in-er so I can get my novel to 80,000-90,000 words on a second draft. I’m so excited to have momentum again and I feel like I can keep it knowing I can write 50 words a night, if nothing else.
When someone you idolize gives advice, you take it. Also, Neil Gaiman is now my BFF because he replied back to a tweet I sent him, so I really have to pay attention to his wisdom.