Thanks to the dates on the ruminations I sometimes post here, I made a curious discovery this morning. During this writing summer, which has a few more weeks to go, I’ve been averaging a page a day.
That doesn’t sound like much, I know, and there have been times in my writing life when such a realization would have paralyzed me with despair–especially when I’ve been writing for hours almost every day for two months. Is that ALL? my chastising self would scream at me.
Actually, though, I find this number really satisfying. A page a day.
The pages I’m counting are what I call my stable pages. These are the pages that will, I believe, wind up in the finished novel, mostly in their present form. There will be refinements, of course, plenty of tinkering with words, but the pages are stable because they’re telling me things I know are true for my characters–deeply true. True not just about what happens but why it happens and why it can only happen as it does because of who the characters are.
To get to my average of one page a day, I’ve written many more–somewhere between twice and three times as many if I count only what I’ve actually typed and not the pages I’ve written only in my head or jotted down as a few sentences here, a paragraph there. This knowledge, too, gives me a strange kind of peace.
It also gives me hope as the new fall semester looms–the time when I’ll have to turn most of my attention back to teaching. All day long I’ve been thinking that if I could average two pages a week–two stable pages–during the school year, that would be just fine. More than fine. It would be splendid!
It’s possible, truly possible, I’m telling myself, because now I really know where the story’s going. (This wasn’t the case last fall.) And, thankfully, 3/4 of my teaching schedule for the coming academic year will be online, a situation that allows me greater flexibility in corralling my day-job tasks into long, long hours of uninterrupted work and leave one or two, sometimes three, mornings free out of every seven. (This, too, was not the case all last year.)
Most summers, I fall into depression right around this time, as I lament that my writing summer is nearly over–lament so much I’m liable to waste the time that remains. But this realization of my page a day gives me courage. A page a day!