The first million is the hardest

They say the first million is the hardest. They’re talking about money, of course, but I imagine it’s the same with wordcount. In which case, I’m about a quarter of the way to my first million.

Earlier this week, I finished the first draft of The Wreck of the Argyll, my children’s novel set in Dundee during the First World War. It’s a short book – just under 32,000 words – but it was almost a surprise when I realised that it was actually my fifth completed manuscript. That’s not bad for a touch over two years – I started The Chimney Rabbit in March 2012 – especially when you consider I’ve stalled badly a few times. (Half-way through The Chimney Rabbit, I got stuck, and didn’t write for several months.)

I just totted up the wordcount of my five novels, and it comes to a smidgeon over 251,000 words. Just over a quarter of a million. I’m not counting any of my earlier work, my short stories, or any of the started, stalled, and abandoned novels that clutter up my archive – only novels that have been completed. Or completed to first draft, anyway.

Of course, the problem is still that I don’t know if any of these quarter million words are any good. Success on the path to publication has been exactly zero – not even an encouraging nibble. But still. Never mind the quality, feel the width. Even if it’s all rubbish, it’s taken a certain amount of application to write a quarter of a million words over five books, so at least I can be proud of the effort, if not the results. I don’t know if being proud of the effort is enough motivation to keep me writing over the next few years, but you never know.

I’ll never have a million pounds, but at this rate I might reach a million words by sometime in 2020.


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