The Irony of Surpassing Yourself

Having spent six years writing 205,000 words of a novel, it looks like I’ll be spending the next few weeks cutting half of them.

Mission accomplished, boy howdy!

It’s ironic, how I wrote mightily to hit a target of two thousand, maybe more, words a day, so I could arrive at the magic length most historical novels are—about 100,000 to 120,000 words. Except once I got in the flow, the words kept coming, until I had not one, but two novels. Somehow, having set my target to 90,000 words (see Scrivener screenshot, above), I neglected to consider it again.

Blame it on Texas, a state so big with so much history that it compels the creative mind to explore it, and then write about it, just to make sense of it all. Even then, there’s no making sense of it.

So blame it all on Scrivener, the writing software I absolutely could not do without, because it allows me to set a ‘butt in chair‘ daily word target and check my project stats almost as often as I once checked Twitter. If you’re not familiar with the wisdom of butt in chair, it’s pretty simple. Flannery O’Conner explains it best:

Flannery O'Connor Quote
Flannery O’Connor Quote ©2013 Jann Alexander

Of course, my word hemorrhage isn’t really Scrivener’s fault. I’ve written often about how Scrivener really saves a writer’s butt, notably here but also here, in case you’re on the fence or want to learn more. But unfortunately, while Scrivener really can help an author organize, write, rewrite, and corral her words, it cannot make her cut her words.

Which brings me back to the irony of my accomplishment, in which I truly surpassed myself. Thus causing me the pain of having to undo what I did…or at the very least, create a new section in Scrivener titled The Cutting Room Floor, where all these wordy chapters will languish. Until it’s time for the next novel, or maybe a future Director’s Cut Reel.

While I’m whittling away scenes for The Cutting Room Floor, learn more about the novels I’m writing here.

Wordless Wednesday, indeed.

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