When ‘not enough’ is too much


That's a whole lotta bullshit.
That’s a whole lotta bullshit.

A couple of weeks ago, I overheard two of my coworkers – both who’ve written and published books – were discussing their experiences with non-work-related writing projects.

They were mostly discussing the editing process (which I’m absolutely not looking forward to), but I saw my opportunity and idly inquired as to what self-publishing platform they used. I say “idly” because, while I’ve mentioned it on the blog and social media before, I don’t know who does and doesn’t know that I’m writing a book about my first year here.

The summer months, while great for getting out and doing fun stuff and seeing Maine (and terrible for my bank account), have been tough on my motivation to sit down in one place for hours at a time and write, or pull together content for the book.

Anyway, the answer (Amazon’s CreateSpace system, in case you were wondering) prompted me to go back and take a closer look at what tools and services it offers, which renewed the fire in my belly to actually get this thing done come December.

I’m roughly laying it out as I go along, putting blog posts in order, trying to figure out where to insert the book-only chapters I’ve written that won’t appear online, and leaving spaces for where planned interviews are to go.

The list of slated interviewees remains virtually unblemished, mostly because I’m a lazy bastard who still hasn’t got around to asking most of his potential subjects, but there are one or two in there.

Last weekend I didn’t have any concrete plans, so I sat around home sipping Baxter beers and catching up on around three months’ worth of posts that I hadn’t yet pasted into the Word document master draft. And to my surprise, after splicing in one of the interviews I actually have done, and pasting in my bit on Sunday’s adventure to the Pittston Fair, I clocked in at over 80,000 words.

That’s the (ongoing!) result of just under eight months’ worth of twice-or-so-weekly writing, a few once-offs and a couple of thousand words of interviews. It does include a few double-ups, including chunks of Maine Walkabout columns that were previously published in different blog posts, but that’s about 1 percent’s worth.

It’s mind-boggling to me that I’ve produced that much original content since I moved here, and at a fairly steady clip too. This Saturday will mark 33 weeks (I checked!) since I started this blog, two days before I began work at the KJ, and I’ve published 75 posts (including this one) in that time, or an average of two and a quarter per week.

After I got up-to-date with the master draft Sunday night, I naively typed into Google, “how many words are there in a non-fiction book?”. Unfortunately, the answer I got from some arbitrary website (remember kids: check your sources) made my heart sink a bit.

The answer for “memoirs” was 80,000 words. Shit.

I honestly have no point of reference when it comes to word counts of your average paperback-sized book. I figured it’d be well over 100k for a book of 300 or so pages, but that was just a guess.

So now, instead of worrying about having not enough content, I’m constantly wondering where the hell I’m going to trim words from. I’ve omitted a blog post here and there – because not all of it fits the theme of “life in Maine as an Australian kid” – but for the most part I feel like they’re relevant. I think the biggest cuts will have to be made on the list of potential interviewees (which, in hindsight, now looks a little fanciful) and probably in my columns as well. While most of them aren’t repetitive, I think they can be axed without any real loss of narrative.

Of course, there’s also an argument for continuing along with what I’m doing, piling blog posts and once-offs and columns into the master draft copy and proceeding with whatever interviews I had intended to do. The cooler weather is right around the corner (I’m guessing), and I’ll suddenly have plenty more time on my hands.

In any case, I’m far better off having MORE content than less, right? RIGHT? GUYS?

Here’s hoping, anyway. In the meantime, I’m pretty excited that the project is picking up steam. I’ve got a working title and a potential – mostly impartial – editor lined up, who can both pick up my spelling and grammatical mistakes and tell me if it’s even half as entertaining as I sometimes think it is.

I want to get the writing side of things (“live” blog posts aside, obviously) by mid-November so I can concentrate on the editing, layout and omissions.I’m sure I’ll spend the first two weeks of November panicking because deadline is approaching and I haven’t done half the shit that I wanted to.

Then I’ve got a self-imposed December 14 deadline, which is both a Sunday and the one-year anniversary of my first post, although I may push that back a day, just in case I’m too dusty to write or edit on the Sunday after potentially spending the entire weekend celebrating a year in Augusta. Or hell, maybe I’ll just be frozen solid again, like last December.

And as history shows, all those things will come true. The hangover, the tundra, the panic at deadline. I’m a creature of habit, after all.


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