It is done. I have 10,000 words, many if them in the right order.

The last morning of the retreat, the last morning of the 2000 word contract. Considering that the average novel has about 300 pages, and a 300-page book will have approximately 82,500 words, I’m about 8% there. With consistency, it’s possible to reach that word count by writing 500 words per day, seven days a week, for about five and a half months. That’s daunting. Even 500 words, and they also need to be the best words possible. Bookity, bookity, bookity goodness.

Do I believe what I’m working on could be a novel? Yes. Not a puff of delusion. I believe it. I had an opportunity on Wednesday night when the group gathered for a soiree, to read a chapter of the work I’ve been doing. By ‘chapter’, I simply mean a block of 2000 words. I chose Chapter 2, the one introducing Maxwell’s life at 20, working at the Western Star Co-op, aka the Oppy. I read it just how I hear it, and I have a good handle on the Western Queensland accent. I grew up with boys who spoke this kind of broad strine, lazy and dry. I mix it with my son and his friends’ zesty mix of Gen Z slang, quite a generous pepper spray of ‘f bombs’ and ‘c bombs’, and the mix is a moderately amusing vernacular. I read it full bore, performative (because that is how I hear all writing, not just my own) and people definitely loved it. Maxwell is a hit and the sorry tales of his life at the Oppy surrounded by co-worker aggravation, unrequited love and talking sugar bags seems to have captured the interest of the group.

Today we had a private one-on-one session with the facilitator. She actually came to our villa and sat with each of us for a chat. She feels my work has legs (a theatre term, but I appreciate the meaning more for it) and undoubtedly the chapters would also make self-contained short stories, enlarged or edited down as the requirement for short stories can be as little as 100 words or as long as 3,000. She was sincere I think in saying I could have success with writing literature if that was my desire.

A plan for this is cooking. Obviously I cannot immediately throw in my day job and set myself up in an attic wearing a corduroy patched-elbow jacket and smoking a pipe (that would come much much later, you know). Nor would I want to because my job is just getting exciting actually. So much more to achieve, especially with DARTS. But what if I kept up the writing on the regular, working on writing maybe 2,000/week? What if I worked to craft one or two of the chapters into short stories and entered them into one of the (seemingly hundreds of) competitions around? Build my skills, work on a strong network, apply for some serious writing comps or get into some workshops offered through writing organisations. It would take time. A bit of doggedness. A bit of dogged bookedness.

We are relieved to have finished because honestly it is just not as easy as it sounds to write 10k words in 5 days. They weren’t joking about the intensive nature of the retreat. So glad I did it.

This project was made possible by the Australian Governments Regional Arts Fund, provided through Regional Arts Australia, administered in Queensland by Flying Arts Alliance.

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