OK, enough with the backstory. This week we begin looking forward because … it’s now only four and a half weeks to go until Departure Day and I’m starting to get very excited!

I’ve been plotting this adventure seriously for two years now, and dreaming about it for (literally) decades. And now it’s all really going to happen. In a very short time indeed I shall be seated at this table with my fingers poised over the keyboard and my heart in my mouth.

The desk…

Of course I’m being consumed by self doubt. Who am I to think I can write a book? In an endeavour to avoid thinking too much about my own novel I’ve been feverishly devouring those of others. Each seems more luminous, insightful and stunningly crafted than the last and throws my own precious idea into eclipse.

I turned the final page on yet another tale of soaring brilliance this afternoon and felt about two inches tall. I knew myself to be a presumptuous, deluded idiot. Then I picked myself up, gave myself a good shaking and squared my shoulders. Sure, I may not achieve soaring brilliance, but I do have a story to tell and I have the hearty enthusiasm of my cheer squad to encourage me to have a go.

Interestingly, the writing advisers all seem to point out one very cogent and compelling fact. The authors that get published all do one thing – they actually finish their books! I myself know at least a dozen gunners (as in “I’m gunna write the great Australian novel”) who talk the talk but keep finding ingenious ways to avoid actually sitting down and writing. I myself have some form in this regard.

This is going to be the secret of my success – I will finish my book! Good, bad or indifferent, at the end of July I will have somewhere between 80,000 and 100,000 words of prose on my hard drive and a foundation on which to build something potentially publishable.

Stephen King says that it should take no writer more than three months to pen a novel. Anthony Burgess churned out A Clockwork Orange in just three weeks. On the other hand Margaret Mitchell took 10 years to bring Gone With the Wind to fruition and J.R.R. Tolkein toiled over The Lord of the Rings for 17 long years. I’m going with the Stephen King approach.

I have been doing feverish calculations to work out how I’m can make it happen. I will be in Carcassonne for 78 days. Assuming my novel is 80,000 words long I would have to write just 1000 words per day (about 4 pages – a doddle!). If I stretch out to the maximum length of 100,000 it rises to 1200. However, I also want to live this sabbatical adventure, explore the Languedoc region with HWB, put my school-girl French into action and generally have some fun.

So, what if I give myself weekends? This would reduce me to just 56 writing days and my daily word target would rise to between 1400 and 1750 words. Let’s call it an average of about 1500 words per day. Six pages a day seems somehow rather more challenging than four, but I know I can do it because I’ve done it before. I nailed 50,000 words in one month back in 2011 when I took on the National Novel Writers Month challenge. I’ve got this covered.

I also know that I am a creature of habit and I’m very much a morning person. There will be no burning of the midnight oil for me. I will rise and shine and be sitting at my table with a view at 9 a.m. sharp every morning and I won’t allow myself to step away from the computer until those 1500 words are done. Here I’m going with William Faulkner who said: “I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes at 9 a.m. every morning.”

Still, I know there are going to be days when I don’t want to do it, when inspiration will have fled and when I curse the day I came up with this crazy plan. I will sit at my window and look out and see the castle and think “what the hell am I doing in here when I could be out there?”

Inspiration or distraction?

I’m planning to walk a lot. I find when I walk I can step into my plot and often start envisioning scenes and dialogue. And I’m going to have plenty of beautiful places to explore on my peregrinations.

Canal du Midi – just round the corner

There is method to my madness and despite my periodic attacks of self-doubt and occasional feelings of unworthiness I know deep in my heart that I can do this. I will write that book. And I’m going to have an absolutely wonderful time on the journey.

7 thoughts on “Counting Down …

  1. Ah, the typical author’s journey – the seeds of self doubt. Yes I’ve had moments of this too. However we all have a voice and a story to tell and if you believe in your story, as do I, it’s half the battle. Getting that draft finished is another important step (says she who is still yet to finish her first draft two years in).
    I would also recommend downloading an app that takes voice to note recording (for me it’s Bear). I find walking and for some strange reason – the shower – are moments when a scene or a solution to a tricky bit in the plot magically appears in the mind. As they’re not necessarily the best of times to whip out the notebook, I find that whipping out the phone and dictating the scene or thought bubble captures the moment and you can then go and tidy it up better once back at the desk. It also helps on the daily word count.
    Our writing journeys may be taking different paths but doing it in tandem has just been brilliant. I’m so looking forward to seeing how the Carcassonne approach goes. Definitely the countdown is on now!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes I don’t what it is about showers and authors. When I am in the writing zone doing the dishes and driving seem to become other lightbulb moments. Really what it comes down to is that even if you’re not physically sitting at your desk typing or scribbling away you’re still writing and the thinking through process is equally important. 🖊📖💡

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  2. Catherine, I’m curious to know if you have developed an idea for your book. Also what made you decide to go to France? I thought there was an idea of a villa in Gozo. I’m so looking forward to reading your book. It will be fabulous I know.

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    1. I have a fully fledged plan, Marie, just waiting to spill it all forth onto paper 🙂 Giza was the initial plan but we decided to spread our wings and I have had a twinkle in my eye for France for many years. Thanks once again for your enthusiasm- it gives me wings!

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