One in a Million

Someone said “you’re first million words don’t count”.  I say someone because I’ve Google-ed this and I’ve found several different people to whom this quote or mis-quote is attributed, though Robert Heinlein and Ray Bradbury, but I like the idea that it was Stephen King.

Anyway, I was interested enough to wonder how much I’ve written, so last night I fired up Excel and Word, and went through all my files, counting words and adding it all up.  It was a surprising and odd experience.  I listed the books and my short stories, took only the count of the final versions even if the original were longer, occasionally much longer.

As I was going through I had a few surprises, not least of all was that several pieces I ‘knew’ were not there.  Actually it turned out that on the whole, they were there, they’d just got lost in my random approach to file saving, next job up this weekend is sorting out my filing.  Also, my hubby pointed out that given the amount of work on my hard drive that if I lost this laptop or it got damaged, I’d have lost a hell of a lot of work that I’d never really get back, so after I’d finished the count, I did burn all my files to a CD.

Back to the surprising.  Because I’d been thinking about this millions words thought, I’d been thinking about it in work Friday, so at lunchtime, I started making a list of the stories I could remember and a estimating how long they were.  I didn’t keep the list, but I know as I was making the new one, I was rather surprised to find just how wrong I was on some of the counts.  There are a couple of cases where I was way out.  One romance I thought was 90,000 words turned out to be 60,647.  Another I’d thought around the same size was 84,086.  But the two that surprised me were one of my early mysteries that got an agent, but no publisher, which I’d thought was about 100,000 words, turned out to be 121,985, and the last is, of all things, the only book I’ve actually self published, Foreshadows (available on Amazon for Kindle), I thought it was around 120,000, it was actually 147,181.

Anyway, I’ve got the list, I’ve done the maths, and here it is: 1,126,533 over 38 distinct stories.  Since my day job is heavily set on mathematics, did a number of statistics while I was there, I’ve tabulated them below, in case anyone’s interested.

Of course this count is only what I’ve got on the laptop.  And only the fiction, it doesn’t include the raft of non-fiction I’ve written, nor my journals, nor my blogs.  Also, I’ve got a couple of boxes worth in the loft that were saved on three and a half inch floppy discs (yes unfortunately, I really am that old), which I’ve never transferred, and never will do now, I mean, who’s got a floppy drive any more?  Mind you, I’m not sure I’ve even got the discs any more.  Truth is anything that old probably isn’t worth having any more, but while they sit where I can’t see them, they are skeletons in the loft that I can’t quite bring myself to cremate.

So, hey ho, that’s a million words and more.  Hopefully that means that now I’m be able to ‘write’. There again, give me a pen and paper, or computer, or even my smart phone and I’ll write whether I’m ‘able’ to or not.

Total (as at 15/03/2013)

           1,126,553

Average

                 29,646

Max

               147,181

Min

                          94

Mode

                    1,700

Median

                    2,842

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