An Essay a Day

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away", or so the saying goes. Well, I've decided to keep brainfreeze and boredom at bay with a new project. Like many other folk on E2, I have been gradually buffing my writing skills, enjoying myself whilst learning stuff and reading stuff and meeting new people. E2 has become many things to me, but most of all, it has developed in me a better understanding of writing - what consitutes good writing, and also to a certain extent, how to do it.

I've been here for about 5½ years now have written 389 articles on various topics (this will be number 390), and I feel that it's time for a change, to take things to the next level, so to speak. That number of writeups equates to about a quarter of a million words, which is about the length of three good-sized novels.

I'm setting myself a target for November (it's going to be too busy a month to commit to a NaNoWRiMo novel, what with travelling to the UK). That said, I'm going to aim to write at least 750 words a day between now and 30th November. That's still a tough target (it took me about an hour to pen around 800 for my latest writeup, yesterday), but I feel it's necessary if I'm to meet my real goal.

And my real goal is...? To become a writer. That is, someone who actually gets paid for writing. Christine's said she wants to see me do it, and by Jove, I'm going to have a stab. But, in the meantime, I need practice, and lots of it. When I first joined E2, I was writing anything from 2-5 writeups a day. Of course, I wasn't paying as much attention to my writing standards, and I wasn't working at the time, but I was getting the practice in, and slowly but surely I started to take better care of the actual writing itself, rather than just the subject. I started to notice how words fit together, started to become aware of rhyme and metre, assonance and other tricks to make writing stand out. I've played with fiction a little (although I still don't think of myself as good at it, and I have trouble with dialogue) but at least I tried. It was hard work, but I learned something.

Christine said to me yesterday that her academic advisor (or whatever) would set essays of 750 words. I reckon that my average E2 Writeup is about 800 words, and NaNoWriMo specifies 50,000 words in a month (that's just under 1700 a day!) So, 750 is both achievable and desirable, and like J.S. Bach, I'm just going to write stuff. Every day.

It may never make it beyond the pages of a notebook (I try to carry a Moleskine around with me these days - thanks, riverrun for that idea!) but whether it's a diary entry, a letter, blog, daylog or a short article on E2, I'm determined to do it. Want to help? Challenge me to do something. Fill a nodeshell, write on a set topic, fact or fiction. I may chicken out on making it public, but I'll certainly try to give you something, even if I never publish it anywhere.

What will the outcome be? Well frankly, I don't really know. I may not make it to the dizzy heights of some people (RalphyK stands out as a recent example, having written a screenplay for a feature film, Severance) but I'm going to work as though it were possible. In the process, I hope to get feedback from you all - honest feedback, not just a pat on the back.

So this daylog is a prelude to the main event, a teaser trailer, if you will. If you decide that you want to challenge me to write, please let me know - if I publish it on E2, I'll link it from here, and credit you with prodding me. So to speak.

In Other News...

I mentioned earlier that I'm going to the UK, and indeed I am! Flying out on 10th November and arriving on the 11th, I'll be staying for 11 days before flying back to join Christine for Thanksgiving.

Following an appearance in Bristol for the forthcoming nodermeet I'm going to Nottingham to see my folks and some old friends, before flying back with The Debutante. After that I'm planning to drive from Michigan back to California. Which should be interesting, especially if I'm writing an essay a day about it.

Funny, the wordcount script here told me I'd written 750, E2 told me it was 812. So, which do I believe? The lower figure, apparently. E2's count is an approximation, for reasons of CPU usage.

The Challenges to do:

The Debutante: write something beautiful for me!
Chras4: Hope Chest

The Essays done:

  • 29th October: This essay (753 words)
  • 30th October: WordCount - dedicated to Brother Jet-Poop (953 words)
  • 31st October: "An Open Letter to Davis' Cyclists", written for my website (756 words excluding quotations)
  • 1st November: Hope Chest - written for Chras4 (1015 words)
  • 2nd - 3rd November: about 1200 words in various small, ongoing projects (was sick on 4th)
  • 5th November: leaf blower (886 words) and wrote an account of a tarot reading (1085 words)
  • Total so far: 12,000 words (546 per day on average). Decided that keeping this updated every day was absurd, whilst travelling.
    In fact, I got about 65% of my target in the end, what with blogs and my Moleskine. Must do better.