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#45: Half a Million Words!

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2020 issue.

Assuming our worthy editor publishes this Confession, or indeed any other words of mine, I’ve just calculated the rather astonishing statistic that it will include the half millionth word of Traveller material I’ve had published. That doesn’t even include the first two editions of The Traveller Bibliography, nor The Traveller Periodical Bibliography (all written before I kept formal statistics), nor any contributions to the Traveller Mailing List. That latter means that the 100,000 words I’ve now written in reports from The Traveller Adventure aren’t included either. If you include those and the various things I have in the pipeline but not yet published, it’s actually nearer a million words. And then there’s the folder of works in progress which seems to get larger rather than smaller.

But all the same, half a million words! Of course, I’m not claiming they’re good words and they are often not in the right order, but my spreadsheet dates back to February 2011 so that’s not quite a decade. Say 50,000 words a year. I’m slacking really, aren’t I? I often fail to meet my perhaps rather hopeful goal of a thousand words a day, but I rarely fail to write something daily.

Surprised though I am to stumble across this factoid (and at just the right time for it to be a nice round number), it would be timely to thank the various editors and publishers who’ve accepted my work. Mr Zeitlin of course can shoulder a lot of the blame but there is also Andy Lilly of British Isles Traveller Support, Brett Kruger of Into the Deep, Mongoose Publishing, 13Mann in Germany and of course the late, great Loren Wiseman editing the online JTAS. A huge thank you to them all for their encouragement, advice and general patience with my queries or corrections. Sometimes their encouragement took the form of simply publishing something as submitted, sometimes it was in the form of helpful editorial advice, sometimes it was in the form of a cheque which is encouragement enough. I should also thank readers who’ve been kind enough to say positive things which are rarer than I’d like but enormously helpful.

My confession? If you’d asked me a decade ago whether I could come anywhere close to this, I’d have probably said no, don’t be silly. A little like my drumming where I still find it quite hard to see myself as “a drummer”; the same is true of writing. But like the journey of a thousand miles beginning with a single step, my encouragement to anyone else wanting to write is this: don’t wait for the perfect time; don’t wait for the perfect place; don’t wait for the perfect pen/notebook/laptop. Just write. Decide it’s what you’re going to do and carve out a little time – preferably each day – just to write. Even if it’s only a few hundred words as a goal, it soon mounts up. Put aside some TV; put aside some social media. Make a start; keep it up.