What’s your writing target? Mine’s 1500 words a day, 10,000 a week for the book I’m currently working on. Now, that target may be unrealistic for some types of writing. I don’t pretend that mine is art, but I guess that if you are Sebastian Faulks or Salman Rushdie then it takes a lot longer to craft that high end writing, and word count targets would be a lot lower (if indeed they do use targets). My purpose is to produce entertainment – that can be through beautifully constructed prose, or simpley a rollicking good read. I wonder what books combine the two.
Two books come to mind – Catch22 (Joseph Heller) and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Robert M Pirsig). As I recall, both those writers took many years to come up with their next books. OK, I just went and looked them up on Wikipedia to refresh my memory. I quote from the Wikipedia text on Joseph Heller:
Heller did not begin work on a story until he had envisioned both a first and last line. The first sentence usually appeared to him “independent of any conscious preparation”. In most cases, the sentence did not inspire a second sentence. At times, he would be able to write several pages before giving up on that hook. Usually, within an hour or so of receiving his inspiration, Heller would have mapped out a basic plot and characters for the story. When he was ready to begin writing, he would focus on one paragraph at a time, until he had three or four handwritten pages, which he would then spend several hours reworking.
Heller maintained that he did not “have a philosophy of life, or a need to organize its progression. My books are not constructed to ‘say anything.'” Only when he was almost one-third finished with the novel would he gain a clear vision of what it should be about. At that point, with the idea solidified, he would rewrite all that he had finished and then continue to the end of the story. The finished version of the novel would often not begin or end with the sentences he had originally envisioned, although he usually tried to include the original opening sentence somewhere in the text.
End of quote. Here’s the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Heller
Anyway, I just had a ‘poor’ morning – didn’t achieve my pre-breakfast target of 500 words, but you know, I spent 90 minutes re-working, re-shaping – all which would have had to be done at some time. And, I did have a good week last week and beat my target, so I’ve still got some ‘gas in the tank’. That takes me back to ‘quality’ and Pirsig. Here’s the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_M._Pirsig