Tag Archives: writing

70k, and the war just beginning

The word count of my biography just hit 70,000, so I thought I’d pause to celebrate with this blog post. It’s a nice milestone, but it’s not altogether welcome. The paragraph I’m on concerns the outbreak of the Great War, so I’m in August 1914, which means I have 4.5 years to go, and the original aim was for an 80,000 word biography.

Back at the end of August I set a plan to write a chapter a month, taking me to the end of the biography during 2017. I’ve been meeting my targets, but I’ve become painfully aware of how naive my plan was. The years I’m writing about in Katharine’s life have proven to throw up far more intriguing stories, characters and events than I anticipated. A good problem to have, I realise. I’ve already added two chapters, and I expect to have to keep adding them.

Writers often get obsessed by word counts and I think it can be a trap; words are cheap, quality words are hard. But it’s a balancing act: measuring, celebrating output can be a necessary and powerful incentive along the way and I feel my ambitious and naive targets have energised me. So far. Most days.

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Why and how I write: a blog chain

Writer and priest, Ted Witham, has asked me to carry on a chain-blog. Ted’s post can be found here, giving interesting insight into his writing process. I think a walk along the beach first thing is a splendid idea, though would be a bit hard for me. I’m also looking forward to his feature article on Dorothea Angus.

What am I working on at the moment?

As readers of this blog know, I’m working on a biography of the early life of Katharine Susannah Prichard. I have a new title this week, taken from chapter two: “The Memory of a Storm: The Making of Katharine Susannah Prichard, 1883-1919”. It’s a phrase from her book The Wild Oats of Han, but it also refers nicely back to her autobiography, Child of the Hurricane, the foundation for my book. Continue reading