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e_moon60

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One Woman's Writing: HOW Many Words in Print??? [Jul. 20th, 2011|06:43 pm]
e_moon60
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While doing online r/e/s/e/a/r/c/h/ goofing off today, I ran across something (now do not remember the train of hoofprints) that led me to Scalzi's blog post on George R.R. Martin's productivity  He compared his own in the same period of years to Martin's, as one way of showing that the delay in presentation of A Dance with Dragons wasn't due to lying around doing nothing...it's a perfectly respectable word count for the years involved.    But naturally, (or it seemed natural today, rather than, say, clean a room...)  that made me wonder what my productivity had been for those years. 

So I dug into the novel files to check the word lengths on the relevant novels, and added them up.

HOW many?   REALLY?  (run the numbers on the calculator again)

To my amazement, in the same period (actually a little less)  I had written & published more words than either Scalzi or Martin, and that's not counting the short fiction.  Just the novels, five of them: the last three Vatta's War books and the first two of the new Paksworld books.   And not just a few words more, but several hundred thousand more. 

So if Scalzi's 440,000 (counting the book coming out in 2012) and Martin's 416,000 are both respectable amounts of work for that period, what about 721,000 words for the same period, not counting my 2012 book or 885,000 counting it?   Double Scalzi's output.  More than double Martin's.

That made me curious about how many published words I have out there, just in novels.  I don't have all those novels in the same computer format (sigh!)  but I do remember what editors said about the lengths of some of them.  Twenty-three novels (or twenty-four counting next year's.)   None is under 100,000 words.  The science fiction ones are mostly in the 120-130,000 range; the fantasy ones are all over 150,000, most between 160 and 170.   Again not counting next year's book, the estimated total comes to over 3.1 million words--published and in print--in the novels alone, about 3.3 million if I include next year's book.  That's way more words than I thought (the knuckles of my right hand have tried to tell me) and more than my husband guessed.

Wordage alone is no guarantee of quality, of course.  In fact, words in print just means words in print.   Some people write more than I do; many write less, blah-blah-blah. 

But...damn.   I not only wrote three million words (lots more than didn't make the final cut, but that's beside the point) I got over three million words published.   And twenty-three books are all still in print.   My first book came out in 1988--23 years ago.   So...23 books in 23 years totaling over 3 million words...plus the short fiction (enough for another 100,000 word book.)

I have not been goofing off after all.  Those years include parenting a child with autism who is now a fine young man struggling (determined) to get through college.   Coping with many a life challenge, in addition to that: parent's final illness and death, husband's parent's final illness and death, various other things.  I think it explains the state of the house and maybe the state of my waistline. 

 

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: blackbyrd2
2011-07-20 11:56 pm (UTC)
Congrats!

That is impressive!
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2011-07-21 03:29 am (UTC)
Thanks. I found myself smiling about it.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2011-07-21 03:30 am (UTC)
I take naps, esp. in summer (Daylight Savings Time messes up my internal clock, and so does the heat.) Naps feel like goofing off--it's daytime, work hours, and I'm not working. (But I am now, so...)

Thanks.
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From: ozdragonlady
2011-07-21 12:05 am (UTC)

Wow ....

I dont see how you can feel that you have been lazy ... altho feeling that way has probably helped get you to this point :)

It is fairly obvious reading your posts that you take a professional "this is a job" attitude, and all the side trips for cons and whatnot are a necessary part of it. Family Stuff gets in the way of any job and needs to be worked around.

I am immensely proud to be able to point to a book of yours and say "I know this woman, shes cool!"
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2011-07-21 03:29 am (UTC)

Re: Wow ....

Thanks. I think the feeling lazy thing comes from knowing that I am not getting everything done, and also knowing writers who put out 2-3 books a year--which I just cannot imagine doing. (Although, I guess, if they were much shorter books I could do two...I just don't want to.)

I really needed this little jolt of "Hey, I'm doing OK in terms of productivity" right now.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2011-07-21 03:32 am (UTC)
Thanks! I was quite happy with myself when I figured it out. It helped that I'd made my words today, too.
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[User Picture]From: wldrose
2011-07-21 12:37 am (UTC)
I first met you after a panel on Fantasy and the Law (or something like That) at Noreascon 3. My best friend bought your first an hour after the panel and finished it and said "you know that woman you liked, her book is pretty good you gota read it" he gave it to me and I have bought all of them since and sevral copys of some.

so I wonder how many of your word I have given both trade, mass paperbacks and kindle total?

thank you for so many words

ash
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2011-07-21 03:31 am (UTC)
Thank YOU for sharing my work with others! It's readers who tell other readers and give 'em starter books that help writers enormously.
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[User Picture]From: cedunkley
2011-07-21 03:55 am (UTC)
As I have never been even slightly let down by anything of yours I have read - including all of the various topics here on your blog, many of which are outside my normal realm of interest - I'm not surprised.

As for Martin he can take his time. I will wait as long as needed for quality. And that goes for any writer I adore reading.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2011-07-21 05:12 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'm glad you've enjoyed the words.
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[User Picture]From: cgbookcat1
2011-07-21 04:42 am (UTC)
That's extremely impressive!
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2011-07-21 05:13 pm (UTC)
Thanks!
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[User Picture]From: catsittingstill
2011-07-21 11:27 am (UTC)
Go you!

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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2011-07-21 05:13 pm (UTC)
It's certainly an incentive to keep going...though the writing itself is actually more of one.
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[User Picture]From: frostokovich
2011-07-21 02:26 pm (UTC)
What fool would ever accuse you of goofing off?
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2011-07-21 05:12 pm (UTC)
Um...me?
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2011-07-21 05:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'm glad you've enjoyed them.

The ones easy to miss are either the two co-authored with Anne McCaffrey (SASSINAK and GENERATION WARRIORS) or the two non-group (REMNANT POPULATION and THE SPEED OF DARK.) Or it's possible you're counting one of the omnibus editions instead of the individual books that came first.

The three original Paks books (3), the two Paks prequels (2), the McCaffrey co-written (2), the Serrano/Suiza/Familias Regnant group (7), the two non-series (2), Vatta's War (5), the new Paksworld books (2 published.) For less scrolling, we divvied them up into groups on my website, under "fiction." Titles, descriptions, and covers are there.
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[User Picture]From: sandramcdonald
2011-07-21 09:02 pm (UTC)
That is just awesome! Great word count. Congrats. Not goofing off at all :-)
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2011-07-24 04:08 am (UTC)
So I realized...(grin). So I'm not going to fret that during my husband's surgery and recovery, I won't be writing nearly as much, but doing the work he usually does on the place.
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-07-22 04:26 am (UTC)

Words well-loved

That is a most impressive tally, Elizabeth! And your ruminations about word count published (not including the cut words/sections) have gotten me to wondering, too.

I have read all the Paks books in several formats (tiny library hardcovers, standard paperback individual books, omnibus, and large hardcover). I have read and reread them, over the last 20+ years. My daughter has been reading and re-reading the two omnibus books and the two new Paksworld books. It would be grand if I could even recall how many times I have read the original Paksenarrion trilogy. I have recommended it to *EVERYONE* who would hold still to listen.

Nothing I have ever read, before or since, holds the same quiet joy and quality as that series, and it will always remain close to my heart.

Thank you!
Gretchen in Minneapolis
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-07-22 03:00 pm (UTC)

WOW!

There are two measures of productivity that tend to matter to me: new books to devour, and the thoughtfulness of the ideas in those books.

I think I've devoured all of your books (I still live in hope that there are a few rare volumes left, but, owning your short-story collections, I doubt this is true) several times, and can honestly say that the continuing allure of scanning a bookstore for titles with your name on it has nothing to do with the number of words you've written and everything to do with the power of each and every word.

I can't say the same of many other authors, prolific or not.

You mention Scalzi and Martin, but neither fills me with the sort of hope that reading the most painful episodes of Paks journey forced me to confront. And while The Speed of Dark wasn't about a worldview I found familiar, it expanded my emotional experience in ways that have helped me grow as a human being. Finally (but not lastly!), Remnant Population became a favorite not only for its wonderful characterizations, but also for the ways it reminded me of my Grandmother -- and of the honor I and all my family owed her for her accumulated wisdom.

So, if it helps, please keep using word-counts as a measure of your productivity, vis a vis other prolific authors, but I hope you won't come to misapprehend that your worth depends on mere output as judged by such simplistic statistics. You mean so much more to your fans than word counts can measure.

And, notwithstanding what I just said, don't expect us to stop clamoring for more!
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[User Picture]From: cerealboxreader
2011-09-03 09:16 pm (UTC)

Congrats

What an impressive track record! I agree that women get a little side-tracked from their accomplishments because we often put family commitments first. For example, you didn't put a link in your blog to any of your many in-print books! As a reader of SF and fantasy of the non-swords and sorcery kind, which of your books would you recommend I read? Go ahead, post a link where people can buy it.
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