Achievements of a writer – reflections of my 100th blog post

Karalee’s Post #100

 

Ha! This is my one hundredth post since the birth of the 5Writer’s blog in September 2012. It’s a milestone that in essence describes what writers really are:

 

 

 

 

 

1. We are counters.

  • Word counters: To date our 5Writer’s group has written 577 blog posts. Based on a low estimate of 750 words/blog, this equates to 432,750 words, which further equates to the length of 5 novels of 86,500 words each! Go 5Writers!
  • Writers also are notorious for setting daily word counts for productivity such as 500 words/day. Based on that we’ve been writing this blog for 865.5 days.
  • Writing is a lonely business and setting word count goals provide incentive to keep going as well as having a timeline to a finished product. We all need goals!

2. We are organized.

  • All writers have to have some sort of organization that works for them. Some of us use outlines, others use mind mapping, while others jot down ideas before starting a manuscript and keep side notes for ideas, characters, settings, etc. as they go along. Even the very few that can keep everything in their heads as they write have an amazing internal skill to keep their stories and characters organized within.

3. We are creative.

  • All writers have creative skills. Imagination fuels our intellect and opens doors to our stories that our life experiences enhance with added color and flare. The basis though, is an amazing creative mind.

4. We have drive.

  • To go from an inkling of an idea to a finished manuscript, all writers that get to The End have the willpower and drive to get there.
  • Blog post #100 is a great achievement too!

If you are a writer, do you keep count and are you organized, creative, and driven? I am–I just wrote my 100th blog post!

Happy Writing!

 

Writing a story like an 8-year-old

Joe’s Post #125

writers blockOk, so as I struggle to get writing back in my life, as I overcome all the barriers I have largely put in my own way, the youngest brings home a story he’d written. He’s 8.

Like me, he’d spelled a few things incorrectly and, like me, his grammar was kinda hit and miss in a few areas.

But he’d written a whole story, found an amazing picture for the header (even looked up how to do a header) and somehow managed to type it all out. Now, you have to understand that at his age (for some reason), they are not taught typing. So to get a page done, he would have had to use two fingers, learn about fonts and paragraphing, then figure out how to get the words out of his head and on to the page.

And he did.

It was a great story, too, combining his two most favourite things in the world. 5 Nights at Freddy’s and Mario.

Lemme back up a bit, give you some context.

5 Nights at Freddy’s (1) is an apps game, a massively successful one, where you are a security guard, at night, trying to fend off unbelievably spooky animatronic animals that have malfunctioned. Oh momma, is this game scary. You have only limited power to keep the lights on and have to track all the animatronics on the security cameras. One mistake and they jump in your face and kill you.

It’s an amazing game with a detailed and complex backstory so deep that someone could make a movie about it. Or write a story.

So, that’s what he decided to do. He didn’t know about plot arcs or character development or theme or stakes or anything. He just sat down and wrote it. With Mario as the security guard. You know, Mario? From Super Mario fame?IMG_6559

Hey, that’s what they do in Hollywood. Mix and mash.

I loved the story in the way only a struggling writer could love a story. It was writing in its purest form. Writing for fun. Writing to entertain. Writing because something inspired you and you needed to tell THAT story.

Oh holy hell, how could I have forgotten that pure pleasure? How could I have gotten so lost in all the techniques and advice.

It’s easy, really.

Lack of success will force you to try to figure out what you’re doing wrong. How you could do better.

But maybe, just maybe, it’s not about the technical aspects of the story as much as getting it on the page because you want to get it on the page, written not for an editor or a market, but for yourself, your friends and your family.

It’s why I love blogging. It’s a purity of writing. It’s fun.

Now, how do I write my novel with that same sense of fun, like I was 8, again?

I’ll have some more thoughts next week.

******

Best show last week – The Fallen, with Gillian AndersonBest serial killer in a while. Nothing flashy, but dead creepy.

Book that I’m reading at the moment – Alan Furst’s, Mission to Paris. About a movie star to goes to France in 1938 to counter the German intelligence machine set up there.

Pages written on new book  30 (oh so painfully slow, but still going.)

Social Media update – What in the world is kik? I had to look it up. And Tinder and snapchat? and… and, oh forget it, i’ll just keep doing what I do here..

Health Ok, never try to play soccer with an 8 year old if you haven’t run in, like, 10 years. It’ll cripple you for days.

Best thing last week  Yet another amazing dinner for Ukrainian Christmas. So much for losing weight.

Worst thing  Pain. Or maybe old age. But you can forget how many muscles you have until you pretty much hurt them all.

Productivity is habit forming

Karalee’s Post #92

Last week I made commitments to be productive in my writing and to keep a balanced life while doing so. I’m very glad of the list as it has already helped me focus my time and energy and get some writing and outlining done even with life’s priorities shifting temporarily in an unforeseen direction. My husband had emergency eye surgery a few days ago and I’m forever grateful for our medical system here in Canada. He is healing well and I’m settling back to my new routine.

I’ve also committed to giving back to my community this year and I will be volunteering with a teacher friend in her class of refugee students, especially helping them with written and verbal English. I know I will learn as much from them as they will from me.

dick francis proofI will be deconstructing a couple of novels during my 12 Weeks to a First Draft course (so I will be very busy), but for purposes of my own writing I’ve always been drawn into Dick Francis’s novels and will deconstruct Proof as my exercise to learn how his writing hooks me. I’m looking forward to this exercise and am positive it will help pull my writing to a new level.

So, my productivity this week has been:

  • I’m half-done mind-mapping my new story. I find this process very creative and I draw the interconnections of my story on a roll of craft paper and pin it on the wall of my office. I write my characters out too with a picture I find that looks like them. The visual references are invaluable to me as I write.
  • I’ve written my novel’s back cover plus the first chapter and some of the second. Total words: 900
  • Hours in my office: 15
  • Times I journaled my progress: 2

This isn’t writing progress, but is reality:

Pies eaten: half a pumpkin and half a strawberry-cranberry pie. Hey, it was Thanksgiving!

Special dinners cooked: 2. One for my son’s 19th birthday (8 people) and one for Thanksgiving (12 people).

Episodes of Orange is the New Black watched: 2

If anyone out there is using Scrivener, there’s also a quick way to learn the software as well as learning how to format everything for an eBook including the covers.

Happy writing!

 

 

 

More surprises await

Joe’s Post #87 –

signSo, there I sat in a restaurant – laptopless and writing notes by hand – when who should sit down behind me, but three construction workers. Hard hats. Rough hands. Dirty faces.

Being me, I listened in on the conversation. You just never know what you’re going to pick up. I was expecting talk about boobs or hockey or the latest jackasses in government. All good topics. I hoped to pick up a little bit of their tone, their language, their thoughts, and file it all away somewhere in my cob-webbed filled brain.

Instead, I heard a reasoned and well-informed debate on pensions. All of them were well spoken, well thought-out and knew not only the economics of how pensions worked but how they are actually invested.

What a surprise!

But should it have been? Should I have been so quick to believe a cliché?

And therein lies the surprise. I expected something gruff, something typically blue-collar, something profanity-laced. I based this on their looks, my own experience working in that environment, and the fact they had hard hats. Bad of me, I know. Never judge a book by the cover and all of that. But I didn’t really judge so much as assume and my assumptions were all wrong.

Delightfully WRONG!

don maass workbookI immediately thought of something Donald Maass had asked in one of his workshops (and I’m sure it’s in one of his books.) He asked, “What would your character never do?”

I wrote, he loves his wife, he’s loyal and honest and would never ever cheat on her.

“So what would happen to your character if he did what he’d never do? Does that make him a little more deep? A little more dark? Understandable? Vulnerable?”

And he was right. He usually is. Thinking about what your character would never do, having the reader understand that and then, then have that character do what he’d never do adds a whole other level of layering to that character. Right?

So, that memory and those construction guys combined to make me think about how to play with expectations. What would I least expect a character to do, then have to them do it. For me, it makes for much more interesting reading. Makes for a nice little surprise. And hey, haven’t we all read about construction guys saying crude things? Of course we have. I may have even written something like that.

Instead, then, what if they were more like the guys who sat behind me?

That has to be much more interesting that regurgitated clichés.

Justified does this really well. Imagine Kentucky hillbillies. Imagine what they would look like. What they would say. How they would dress. Now, here’s a snippet of dialogue from that show. From Huffington Post

justifiedIn Season 4, look at (Hillbilly) Boyd’s style of speech, when a competing criminal, Nicky Augustine, holds him at gunpoint.

Nicky: I got to ask. Where’d you get all those teeth?

Boyd: Courtesy of the American taxpayer while serving our great nation in Desert Storm.

Nicky: Man, I love the way you talk… using 40 words where four will do. I’m curious. What would you say if I was about to put forty bullets through that beautiful vest of yours?

Boyd: What’re you waiting for?

Nicky: Oh, you’re cool, huh?

Boyd: I tried to keep it to four words. You’ll allow the contraction as one

Awesome right? I mean, really, really freaking awesome, but a good part of that comes from the fact that Boyd just isn’t what he appears to be. His language, his word usage, his humor is a surprise. In fact, the whole show probably has the best dialogue on TV and is a great example of how to do surprises, be they in characters or actions or dialogue.

And that made me think about how I’m going to have to kick up my game a bit more. I need to look for those moments where you’re thinking oh, hold on, it’s the street-wise hooker… and I give you something else entirely.

Every little surprise adds up to a great story.

I hope.

**************

Blogs Done This Week: 1

Movies Seen in Theaters: 0 (too busy!)

Times I Muttered, “Where did the time go?” Just under a billion.

Queries out this week: 5

Rejections for the last week: 0

Queries Still Out there: 0

Hope Meter: 25/100 Down a bit from last week. Lack of laptop hurt my writing and time management. Procrastination hurt my queries. A small-brain-that’s-easily-confused hurt my outline.

One endless year wiser

desk-insetSilk’s Post #51 — One year ago today, as the DW (designated writer) of our critique group’s first post, I clicked “publish” and 5writers5novels5months launched itself into the crowded blogosphere.

“Let Us Tell You a Story …” introduced our crazy, self-imposed challenge of each writing a novel in five months, and our even crazier hope of getting at least one of them sold within a year.

It’s now 365 days and 245 posts later, a good time to reflect on our journey. What have we accomplished? What have we learned? And what are we going to do next?

5writers-9-5-13

Accomplishment #1 – happy anniversary to us

First and foremost, we’re still together. Through all our individual personal changes, challenges, triumphs and frustrations this year, the 5writers are (in today’s parlance) still committed to a deep and meaningful relationship with each other. We held an anniversary meeting on September 5, 2013 to celebrate, re-charge our batteries, and plan a new group literary venture for 2014.

Can’t tell you more now. Very hush hush. But watch this space for details of our next ridiculously idealistic and ambitious scheme in the new year.

The writing life is no place for realists. Much too hazardous to their sanity.

Accomplishment #2 – OMG, we’re actually blogging

A couple of our 5 had a bit of blogging experience. I wasn’t one of them. This whole blogging venture was – let’s call a spade a spade – a total crapshoot. Could we organize 5 different writers in 5 different places with 5 different lives to create a blog with any kind of continuity, and somehow sustain their efforts week after week? As 5 of the millions of unpublished writers out there, did we really have enough to say that people might be interested in? Could we attract any followers? Could we keep them?

As it turns out, we could. Okay, we’re not a trending phenom, but a few hundred of our valued readers keep sticking with us, and we promise to keep working hard to make it worth your while.

So, our sincere thanks to you. You keep us going, and hopefully we help you do the same.

Accomplishment #3 – over 323,064 words and counting

If you’ve been following us for a while, you know that only 2 of the 5 finished their first drafts by the designated target date of February 5, 2013 (Joe and Paula). By the time the 5writers got together for our big Whistler critique fest in June, Karalee had finished her first draft, and Helga and I submitted partial manuscripts. As a group, we got over 300,000 words on paper, and critiqued every one of them.

And now, of course, we’re changing probably 150,000 of them, and adding another 300,000.

Ugh. Math. A writer’s least favourite subject.

My big, fat, life lesson

Personally, I’ve learned as much about myself in the past year as I’ve learned about writing. And that’s a lot.

Though I’ve been writing pretty well all my life, I came to fiction late and with great trepidation. I thought I had my eyes wide open by realizing at the outset that it would be a steep learning curve. I knew I knew how to write, but I didn’t know if I knew how to tell a story.

I not only underestimated the expected storytelling learning curve, but I was blindsided by all sorts of other learning curves I hadn’t anticipated. Like the extra determination it takes to start a whole new career when you’re 60. Not a hobby, where success is measured purely in terms of personal satisfaction, but a career, where success is also measured by satisfying an audience.

Let’s face it, most writers will never be published. There. I’ve said it. But if you’re writing to be read, then publication is the goal. And for me, the reality of what that really means finally sank in this year. It means:

  1. I have to actually finish the first draft.
  2. I have to then figure out what’s wrong with it (there will be lots), and polish it to a level that outshines the gazillion other unpublished manuscripts out there as I compete for the attention of an agent, editor and publisher.
  3. I have to go through the torturous snakes-and-ladders process of finding and selling to the abovementioned gatekeepers, which also means …
  4. I have to have another book, or more, in the works immediately.
  5. I have to repeat ad infinitum to feed either the slush pile or the bookshelf, depending on my degree of success.

Okay, we all know this stuff. We’ve read it. It’s been hammered into us by experts at conferences. We’ve discussed it ad nauseum. But internalizing the reality of this commitment – making it part of one’s life mission, because nothing else will really suffice – is another thing altogether. I had a long, long list of things I was eager to do when I retired from my “real” career. This year I had to realistically face whether writing was to be one of many pleasant pastimes, or would become another “real” career.

Everyone who writes has heard the famous writer-at-a-cocktail-party story, broadly ascribed to a lecture given by Canadian lit queen Margaret Atwood:

A brain surgeon meets a writer at a cocktail party.

“So you write?” says the brain surgeon. “Isn’t that interesting. I’ve always wanted to write. When I retire and have the time I’m going to be a writer.” 

“What a coincidence,” says the writer, “because when I retire I’m going to be a brain surgeon.”

I’ve been harbouring the secret suspicion that I’m really just a naive “brain surgeon” who thinks writing is easier than brain surgery – something to keep me amused and purposeful in my retirement. This year’s 5writers challenge has forced me to come to grips with my ambitions. What kind of writer am I – really?

My decision: I’m still teetering. My heart says, “career”. My head asks, “do you really want to work as hard as you did during the 40 years you had your nose to the grindstone?” Because that’s what it will take to become a writer who gets published, gets read, achieves commercial success.

Like the majority of that huge community of unpublished writers out there, I haven’t really committed yet to writing being my life’s absolute, number one, top priority. But, like many of them, I thought I had already made that commitment. This year taught me that I have not.

And that, ironically, is real progress.

I’m acutely aware that I’m part of a generation that wants it all – a ridiculous impossibility. Time is a cruel taskmaster. To do something really well, you have to feed your dream with your blood, sweat, tears … and time. You have to give up other things.

I am a writer. I will write for the rest of my life. Because, as Maya Angelou wrote, “There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.”

But the question remains: what kind of writer will I be? My “5writers year” has been endless. That is to say, I’ve not yet typed “the end” in the story I began on September 5, 2012. When I do, I can make a new beginning.

Hopefully by then I’ll be wiser about what kind of writer I am.

 

 

 

Crap Spotting

Joe’s Post #46

The CHEW ASS Method (Or how to spot your own crap.)

By me. The Krap King.

Silk made a great post about how we were all able to spot each other’s mistakes. Somehow it’s easier to look at another’s writing and see things we just miss in our own.

So how is that possible? Are we that blind?

writing errorsWell… yes. We get caught up in our own story, sometimes put plot ahead of character, sometimes forget to put down things in our head, sometimes we’ll even fail to see how a reader will actually read what we write.

So, I’ve made up a list of how to spot your own crap. Chapter by chapter. A list of questions to ask…

1. Can I cut out anything that’s useless info, backstory that’s not needed, too many words where one will do, 3 pages where I could simply write, she jumped? Can I cut excess description, dialogue, even a whole subplot that’s just not needed? In other words, how can I make it as lean and readable as possible?

2. Is there humor somewhere? Hard to do in each chapter, harder still to do if you’re not writing a humorous story about a traveler whose capacity to get lost is legendary, but after an action scene, after a sizzling sex scene, or even just because your character views the world a little sideways, it can add so much to your story. I tell you, if I can make you laugh AND cry in a novel, I’ll probably own you.

3. Where’s the character’s want (or where is their goal expressed?) Seriously. Find it. Point to it on the page and circle it. It has to be in every scene or arced from other scenes, but there HAS to be a driving force. Big and small. Big one, save the world from mutant zombie megamonsters. Small one, get a gun.

4. Is there emotion? Oh, how hard this is for me. Maybe I should write more about robots. Is there a reaction to what’s happened? How does it affect them? Ok, not every character has to burst into tears in every chapter, but likewise, a character who goes through a story without reacting, without changing, without FEELING, is not a character we want to follow.

5. Are my characters acting in character (to Silk’s point). Are they acting or reacting based on who they are, what they fear or hope, what motivates them or what obstacles they must overcome? And if they don’t, is there a good reason for it (and is this ‘good reason’ explained?) This, for me, is the hardest to spot. Oh how foolish I sounded when I was forced to say, (during my critique), “Oh, wait, she did that because of something I didn’t write down.” Sadly, until they let me publish a novel with links that explain what I meant, not what I wrote, I need to work on this.

6. Are there stakes? Again, big ones, small ones, personal ones, emotional ones. I have to look at all the scenes and ask myself, so what if they didn’t do whatever it is they’re doing? What’s at stake if they lose a race? What’s at stake if they stay in a bad situation? What’s at stake if they just walk away and go see the new Wolverine movie?

setbacks7. Are my characters suffering? Oh, I’ve talked about this enough, but it’s basically making sure nothing is too easy for the poor buggers in my novel. Like me, they have to endure a lot before they succeed. Pain. Loss. Grief. Betrayal. Setbacks.

So, with every chapter, I will ask myself (sometimes outloud much to the embarrassment of anyone with me) Is there..

C – Cutting to be done?

H – Humor?

E – Emotion?

W – Wants or Goals

A – Actions consistent with the character

S – Stakes

S – Suffering

CHEW ASS, baby. My method.

Cool movies seen: None but some planned.

Queries out: 2

Rewrite update: Act 1 done.

Break’s over

Silk’s post #22 — It’s been six days since our 5 writers deadline. Six not-altogether-relaxing days of catching up with the rest of my life.

Doing things like finally unpacking those last remnants of never-needed stuff left in the zip pockets of the suitcases I took to Maui. (Why did I take all this junk, anyway? No wonder I could hardly lift my bag).

Things like paying my bills (hey, if you’re reading this and I owe you money, the cheque’s in the mail – really).

Things like doing 10 loads of laundry, cooking some normal meals, making up for lost strokes with my two narcissistic Maine coon cats (what cats aren’t?), and re-learning how to have conversations with my husband where I’m not constantly interrupting with “sorry, can you say that again?” because my mind has drifted back to my book while he’s talking.

But now, I’ll let a few excerpted lines from Sting’s classic “Saint Augustine In Hell” outline what’s next:

If somebody up there likes me, somebody up there cares
Deliver me from evil, save me from these wicked snares
Not into temptation, not to cliffs to fall
On to revelation, and lesson for us all …

Relax, have a cigar, make yourself at home. Hell is full of high court
judges, failed saints. We’ve got Cardinals, Archbishops, barristers
certified accountants, music critics, they’re all here. You’re not alone.
You’re never alone, not here you’re not.

Okay break’s over. 

Although this song about love and lust is probably more familiar by its chorus line (“The minute I saw her face, the second I caught her eye”) – and the only thing it has in common with writing is that the pursuit of any passion can certainly lead to hell – that line “Okay break’s over” has always stuck in my head, with it’s gleeful promise of more pain, followed by Sting’s maniacal laughter.

What better theme song for the Tortoise’s ongoing journey?

In word count, I was only about 20 percent of the way to my destination when time ran out. Of course, the research, plotting, character development and all the other work that goes into a first draft are a big part of the job, so if you look at it in terms of overall travel time, I’m probably more like a third of the way there.

But that still leaves me something like 80,000 words short. Or 410,000 letters, if you use the commonly accepted count of 5.1 as the average number of letters per word in the English language. Just half a million or so taps on the keyboard, each one a minuscule step towards redemption.

It reminds me of one of my favourite Gary Larson cartoons, the famous 1984 panel titled “Aerobics in Hell”, in which a gleeful, cloven-hooved beelzebub is conducting an exercise class for several overweight and clearly unhappy residents, who are shown standing on one foot with arms akimbo.

“Three more, two more, one more, okay! Five-million leg lifts, right leg first! Ready, set … ” says the devil.

In other words …

Break’s over!

Time to hold my feet to the fire and write like hell.

hellfire

A word from the tortoise

tortoise

Silk’s post-deadline post  I’m so proud of my writing friends for their accomplishments in this crazy writing challenge, and so grateful for their support through the past five months. Joe, Paula, Helga and Karalee – you’re the best of the best.

According to my calculations (with help from the handy MS Word counter), here’s the collective arithmetic for our writing challenge:

WRITERS:      5

NOVELS:      5

MONTHS:      5

PAGES WRITTEN:      1,214

WORDS WRITTEN:      251,886

NOVELS FINISHED (FIRST DRAFT):      1

NOVELS FINISHED (SECOND DRAFT):      1

NOVELS IN PROGRESS:      3

Congratulations to Joe and Paula, who have already typed: “The End”, with special kudos to Joe who has already finished his second draft. What an accomplishment, Joe! We all hate you. I’m kidding. We all love you.

Honourable mentions to Karalee, who weighed in with the top word count in the “novels still in progress” category, and to Helga for completely starting over with a new novel halfway through the challenge and still managing to make excellent progress.

Of course, someone always has to be last, and this time the booby prize goes to me. The tortoise.

But don’t lose faith. I haven’t. Sometimes the tortoise does pretty well in the end. I’m still at it and I could still use some cheering on.

The fact is, the 5 writers challenge wasn’t a competition against each other. And it wasn’t merely a race against the clock. It was a gutsy journey of discovery by a fellowship of writers who have not only inspired and supported each other, but have also shared our story – the good, the bad and the ugly – with our friends and the writing community.

The writing was the challenging part. Learning about our personal strengths and weaknesses as writers working under pressure was the discovery part. Sharing with the world was the gutsy part.

But the story isn’t over. There are still pages to be written. And re-written. And hopefully published. The challenge continues.

As we take a breath and plan the next leg of the journey, I want to thank everyone who has followed our blog and encouraged us along the way so far. Writing is perhaps the ultimate solitary profession, but because of our 5 writers challenge, we’ve never been alone. I hope we’ve given our readers here something back.

Hope you’ll stay with us!

Done, Done and Done. Sort of.

Joe’s Post #21

More tomorrow, my regular posting day, but for today, a quick update.

Deadline was midnight Feb 5th, 2013.

Feb 5th, 2013, 5:38pm, I finished my second draft.

dec 2012 035So what does second draft mean? It means the first 30 pages are good enough to be sent out. It means I can start querying if I want. It means I can send out the whole book to readers for feedback.

It means met my goal.

Next step – Reader feedback. Then I’ll put it aside for a couple of months so when I do my final draft, I can look at it with fresh eyes. Like I did with Desert Rains. Maybe go to Vegas again. Or Mexico. Or Paris.

All in all, the story should be pretty engaging, I LOVE my characters, and love some of the scenes I’ve crafted, but I went with an unconventional structure and that may sink me (or not.) Either way, at some point, a writer just doesn’t know if something works or not, but hey, that’s what readers are for.

Pages written: 419

Word count by the old 250 words/page: 104,750

Word Count by Word: 76,249 (Wow, I mean, WOW, that’s a HUGE difference!!!)

Suggested YA Word Count: 80,000

Stay tuned.

50 hour report: a penny for your thoughts

bye-bye-penny

Silk’s post # 21 — Yes, 50 hours to go. For those of you who believe in arithmetic, rather than miracles, let’s get out our calculators.

If Helga writes two pages per hour, or 500 words, and Paula writes three pages per hour, or 750 words, how many words can Karalee write before the deadline, if she writes at Paula’s speed for two-fifths of the time remaining, and at Helga’s speed for the other three-fifths?

I’m kidding, I’m kidding!

I hated those stupid problems. It’s probably what drove me from math to English, and thence, eventually, to writing novels.

Besides, who has time for math when there are only 50 hours remaining? In fact, who has time to write posts, for Pete’s sake?

Of course, because I have not been subjecting myself to random drug testing … I mean to random word counting … none of you actually know how many words I’ve written thus far.  And don’t expect me to tell you now. All I can say is that my tally is still in the two figures. That could be anywhere from 10% to 99%.

But the numbers that count now – to me anyway – are how many words I’ve written in the past week. The correct answer is eight-thousand. And that includes two full days in transit from Maui to Saltspring Island. I’m on a roll. (But I also realize that this reveal will allow my 5 writers buddies to calculate, after receiving my meagre submission on Tuesday at midnight, how pitifully few words I got on paper over the first four months and three weeks of our challenge, although I urge them not to tax themselves doing the math).

Math is cruel.

For example, today is a particularly sad day for those who still believe that a penny saved is a penny earned. Because today, the Canadian penny died. Literally.

Rest in peace.

Yes, this is the last day Canada will issue pennies. Each penny cost something like $59 to make. That’s an exaggeration, but you get the point. It just didn’t make sense anymore. As I said, math is cruel. It just killed the penny, for godssake.

Let’s all think of each penny in this world as a word. Put 100,000 of them all together and you have $1,000, or one novel. So now you see why the penny has reached the end of its useful life. Who’s going to bash their brains out writing a 100,000-word novel for $1,000?

Well, many of us, as it turns out. In fact, we write them for $0, plus a hope and a prayer. And love it.

Just a little math lesson to celebrate Deadline Eve.

And now back to writing. Every penny counts!