This is for The Ride. Fare Game, episode 13, will be ready on Friday.
If this were a real ride – on a bike, with a group of mates – at about the half-way point I’d be thinking of where and when we were going to stop for a coffee and a muffin. The stop itself might not happen for a little while, but I’d be thinking about it. Mostly I’d be managing my expectations of the double espresso I’d order. Some places we stop, the coffee isn’t up to scratch, but everything else – the location, the people you’re with, the weather, the baristas and wait staff – can all balance the ledger and deliver a satisfying experience.
Yes, I am a bit too much like Driver when it comes to coffee and cycling.
But this isn’t a real ride. I’m sitting at my desk rather than on my bike. That’s not a bad thing – I enjoy sitting here. And I don’t know whether I’m half way there. I might be a little less, but I’m certainly not more. Like the ride on two wheels, I have been thinking about the journey so far and, particularly, how different it has been compared with how I expected it to be.
First, let’s start with the facts:
- 12 posts of the novel
- The equivalent of 5 chapters
- A bit over 31,000 words
The 5 chapters marker is what suggests to me I’m half way because the notes I’ve made tell me the story will be told in 10 chapters. But, without any good reason, I thought there’d be about 30 posts and about 70,000 words. I can’t tell you why ‘cos I don’t know. Maybe there still will be.
I made four commitments at the start:
- Post twice a week – tick. Plus a third weekly instalment for these blogging-about-the-blog posts
- 1,000 to 2,5000 words per post – cross. Posted more than that. Could be my undoing.
- There will not be a cliff-hanger in every post – tick. But there is a rhythm, a natural rise and fall of the tempo that suggests where a post might end.
- Respond to every piece of feedback – tick. Except for the spam, which goes in the bin.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
- The post to scheduled deadlines thing is good, so far. I like it, so far. No time for writer’s block! Can I keep it up for the second half? I hope so. I’m aiming to. Am I sure? Nope.
- The words per post thing is also good, even though I marked myself down for it. Too many words per post – only 5 have been inside the word limit, all the rest have been over. One was over 4,000 words. That means I’m churning through the story faster than I expected. A lot faster. And that early pace might come back to haunt me.
- The no cliff-hanger thing is good. The natural rhythm to the prose thing is maybe the most interesting discovery for me. By way of process, I am writing chapters ahead of editing them into posts. My fear at the outset was that what a reader might enjoy reading as a chapter in a book – or even as a page in a book, or a paragraph – might not have enough happening when delivered in the relatively brief, episodic format of a post. With that in mind, as I edit each draft chapter and slice it into postable portions, I know I need to break off soon. And I know there’s a responsibility to leave the reader with, if not a cliff-hanger, then at least a question in their minds they’d want an answer to. That way, they’ll come back. I’ve tried hard to leave a question in your minds.
- The respond to feedback thing is also good. I did note that if there were only three of you, it wouldn’t be arduous. And while there are plenty more than three readers, you’re a fairly quiet bunch. Some even send feedback by private email and, while that’s still valuable and occasionally flattering to receive, I’m open to way more comment than I’m getting. Be careful what you wish for, I’m hearing in my head.
In summary, the exercise of blogging a novel has, so far, given me a lot more than I expected it to from the point of view of the writing. I rate it a huge positive, although a taste for masochism is probably a prerequisite. The promotion bit, on the other hand, is tough. At least it is for me. Getting the word out that I’m here and I’m doing this thing is tough. You can’t continue to stand on the rooftops and shout out loud for people to come and read. Your actual and virtual neighbours will quickly get sick of you. You’ve got to earn people’s attention. I’ve raised my profile from non-existent to vaguely familiar, so I still have a long way to go.
Wish me luck – or comment in any other way you feel inclined to – as I put down the empty coffee cup, don my helmet, clip into my pedals and roll off for the second half of the adventure.