I read that Alan Moore’s second novel, Jerusalem, will weigh in at a million words. To put that into perspective, I’ve published four decent sized novels and a novella, and, adding the forthcoming doorstop The Derring-Do Club and the Invasion of the Grey, to my total, I clock in at 0.8 of a Jerusalem. It’s significant, because there’s a theory that you have to write a million words of crap before you become a good writer. It’s another way of measuring the 10,000 hours to be an expert: it’s a drabble an hour.
Clearly, no-one writes a million words to have their millionth and first word declared a work of genius: the first ‘the’ in that sentence is rubbish, but, half way along, that second ‘the’ is beyond wonder!
The 10,000 hours theory says that you gradually become a master of the craft reaching it at the 10,000 hour mark, but you are ‘good’ and ‘better’, long before you are ‘best’. Also, it should be pointed out that Alan Moore has written an awful lot of words in his descriptions for the graphic novels, he’s known for the length of his instructions, so he’s well over the million by now, I’d have thought.
And all writing counts: shopping lists, ranting blogs… I’ve written a diary (or journal) since 1977. The first years were all long-hand in school exercise books. The problems I had finding a source for exercise books after I’d left school. Anyway, in late 2001 to mark the new millennium, I went digital. Basically, I couldn’t read my own handwriting and my typing speed was competent. (Hmmm, another skill that I must have spent 10,000 hours on.) Each of this millennium’s is novel length and adds up to 1.3 million words, which brings my overall total to two Jerusalems.
Does this mean I’m a Master of writing?
I am, literally, on the grounds that I have an MA in Writing.
But the point is that if you plug away at something, suddenly you’ve spent a lot of time on it and achieved something. So, keep at it, until you have built a Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land.