Richard Wright

author of strange, dark fictions

December Book

The December Book: Countdown, Day One

November 4, 2013 by Richard Wright in December Book, Journal, Writing

GreyfriarsRight, a big week for The December Book (which is really called The Flesh Market right now, but we started with December Book so shall continue with that until it’s done). Over the next seven days, I hope to finish it. A clean first draft at least. That’s 39,000 words in seven days. Eat my dust, NaNoWriMo types. To keep me honest, I’m going to blog my days here until it’s done. In cold terms, I’m doing a sort of workflow analysis of myself. Or a food diary. With words.

Um. There has to be a better thing-this-is-like than those, but nothing else occurs.

I’ll blog around the writing sessions as I go, clean it all up when I’m done, and post it at the end of the day. All photos relate directly to what I’m writing about.

As of this Friday morning the novel stands at 50,456 words. I think I’m writing a 90,000 word first draft (about the same length as Thy Fearful Symmetry). I may be proven wrong – if it’s shorter or (god help me) longer, then we’ll find that out together. Scrivener, my writing software of choice, tells me I need to hit 5649 words per day to get the thing done. I’m giving myself seven days to finish.

Starting now.

So, I got up at 09:30. That’s late for me, but it’s a public holiday here in India and forcing myself to do my usual routine when everybody else is having a weekend day feels like punishment. Pottered about for a bit, had some breakfast and a coffee, made myself another coffee, and sat down. It’s 11:00 and I’m about to continue with a half-finished chapter from Friday. I’m off around the world to Edinburgh, nearly two hundred years ago. Back soon.

11:00 – 11:50. 801 words done, and things are rolling. Perfect time for a coffee. Not an easy scene for me to write. Murders and mayhem through the distorted eyes of a man who is very drunk indeed, and determined to stay that way. I relate (not to the murder bit, but the rest). A bit of googling midway through to try and work out whether there were wolves in Ireland in 1828 (there probably weren’t, but definitely had been in living memory).

I’m listening to the second season soundtrack of Game of Thrones, scored by Ramin Djawadi. The three season soundtracks so far released are slowly become the soundtrack of the novel, though they weren’t meant to be. The track ‘Warrior of Light’ is a twisted, perverse thing that matches perfectly where the POV character is in his life, so I’ll have that on repeat for the rest of the scene.

12:00 – 12:45. 560 words. End of a chapter, so an earlier stop than planned so I can step back and look at what comes next. I’m glad to be out of that character’s head. It’s wretched in there. Another coffee brewed, then back to work.

13:00 – 14:10. 1356 words. I’m jumping about in the novel’s chronology to follow a particular thread to conclusion. There’s probably stuff to go between this chapter and the previous, but I want to stick with a particular sequence of events that needs to happen. I was going to write this chapter from the point of view of one of the primary characters of the novel, but he has nothing interesting to think since I last visited with him. Instead, I’ve elevated one of the secondary characters. There’s a fair number of POV characters in the book now (and, because I’m working with historical personages, far more of them are called ‘William’ than I’d allow if I were making everything up from scratch – it’s confusing). The chapter is talkative. Lots of dialogue, and it’s a breeze to write when people stop thinking and start talking.

Lunch was a bagel and scrambled eggs. Don’t think I’m going to tell you what I had for lunch EVERY day. What do you think this is? Facebook?

One event of partial relevance. While slicing my bagel, I also sliced into a finger. One of mine. Now, it may be that you’re a young writer, who has foolishly followed a link here thinking you’re going to pick up amazing top tips about being writery. You’ll be incredibly disappointed over the coming days, I promise you. Today though, I can offer you this:

If you want to be a writer, do not cut off your own fingers during bagel related activities. You need them.

Fingers. You need fingers, not bagels.

Though bagels are nice.

Back to work.

14:40 – 16:00. 1585 words. Second section of that chapter was chatty, again. I wonder if I’m writing in revolt against the stuck-in-his-head horrors of the chapter I started with today. Whatever, the chapter’s done. I switched soundtrack to season 3 of GOT, and when I got to a track called ‘The Bear and the Maiden’ put it on repeat. The section’s set in a student pub, and that’s a perfectly boisterous and silly track to go with it. That was a long session, so I’m taking a half hour away from my desk now. Just you try and stop me.

16:30 – 17:10. 853 words. Started a chapter I didn’t know was going to happen, but which popped into my head during the break as the perfect solution to a character I had yet to work out the motivation for (what she does, and allows, didn’t seem credible until now). Stopped to make another coffee, and fiddle about with research on which churches in Edinburgh were which denomination 200 hundred years ago. There does not seem to be a website for this…

17:20 – 17:40. 504 words. A blast of words, and the first of two sections in the chapter is done. It’s a chapter of strange revelation and glorious understanding (for the POV character), and when I hit the track ‘Mhysa’ on the GOT soundtrack I put it on repeat. It’s a breathtaking piece, and carried me where I needed to be. As an aside, that church research turned out not to matter very much. That happens too often with this novel. Wasted time. Meh.

And I’m done for the day. 5659 words in total, according to Scriv. A whole ten words over target. Spread out over the week, that means I have to write one and a half words less per day to reach 90,000. Woo hoo!


I could write on, but I’m pleased with what I’ve done (these chapters have surprised me) and I’m stopping with a clear sense of what the second section of that chapter is going to be (so an easy 1000 words or so to start tomorrow).

Time for chilli, mint tea, a book, and a Disney movie. Disney keeps the horror flowing, didn’t you know? Ask any horror writer. It’s our crack.

The December Book now stands at 56,115 words total. Hope tomorrow goes as well as today did. I started off not sure I’d hit my target, but not too worried on it’s-a-public-holiday grounds. That I cleared it makes the rest of the week easier.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Share this post.

Related Posts

Recent Posts