‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.’

Another statistical lie: size doesn’t matter.

Twain, Disraeli, Anon, take your pick, but the quote is true nonetheless. I hereby state, for the record, that I have committed that most heinous of crimes and told infernal untruths about statistics. Can my backers ever forgive me? Will readers ever trust an author who can’t keep his numbers straight?

If you can stretch your imagination back into the mists of ancient history and picture a scene from the distant past:

It is late 2012. A nervous, but bushy-eyed writer sticks his head from his burrow, his nose twitching as he sniffs the wind. Deciding it was probably the cabbage leaves he had for breakfast, he waggles his fluffy little tail in dismissal and scans the horizon. There! He spies it: a Braben is holding the largest carrot he has ever seen. Its orange-ness glows in the mid-morning sunlight. Its verdant top-leaves rustle provocatively in the bracing breeze. However, the Braben does not shiver, but stands resolute, protected from the elements by his fluffy woollen pelt.

He holds the carrot higher, inviting, tempting those with overactive creative libidos to come out of hiding and partake of the wonderful editable. The writer cannot resist. He darts from bush to tussock, pausing at each to scan the sky for the threatening silhouette of predatory wings. All seems clear. So, lulled, he approaches the Braben on all fours. The Braben is magnanimous in his speech:

‘Come closer, Little Jumper, for I am a lover of your larger knitted kin. What would you wish of me?’

The writer trembles, a shiver rippling from nose to tail. His small herbivorous mind struggles to put the pictures in his head into the sound-meanings of the Tall One. Embarrassed, his tongue struggles to force itself into unfamiliar contorted shapes that are blocked by the teeth of his kind.

‘Oh, Braben. Day Feed? I’ll eat? Dangerous?’ He points at the massive editable, hoping to make his meaning clear.

‘No, not dangerous Little Jumper, but it will be a challenge, for it is a large editable for one so small.’

‘If all eat,’ the writer gestures from the carrot’s top to base, ‘frond…’ere?’

‘Then, like me,’ said the Braben, ‘you will become a maker of raspberries, *sigh*.’

A writer must be willing to suffer for his carrart.

If such a tale can have a moral, it is this: don’t bite off more than you can chew. When I first set up the Kickstarter, that was my frame of mind. Don’t promise too much. I thought I could push out around 30,000 words without too much difficulty in the time available. So that is what I promised. It turned out to be my first lie.

As I wrote, the plot got increasingly involved, but I was making reasonable progress. By June, 2013, I was estimating, and promising via a new little widget, around 80,000 words. I must now solemnly confess that I will break that promise. I lied. Again. There is no way that I am going to be able to tie up all the loose ends in the plot and put together my best attempt at a riveting climax in the next 7,500 words. And so statistics make a liar of me a second time.

What the final word count of Out of the Darkness will be, I can only guess—maybe around 90 to 110,000 words. Hopefully my backers will enjoy digesting their larger meal. 300% isn’t a bad increase on their investment. But, with an epic conclusion to find and a lot of editing to be done, if it’s going to get any longer gibbering will definitely start my nose twitching, and my little fluffy tail will be bobbing in a most alarming manner as I run for the safety of my burrow.

I hope you can all forgive me for my untruths. When I wake in the dark of the night, cold sweat sticking me to my dried-leaf bedding, I only hope I am able to forgive myself. This is turning out to be one ****ing huge editable to digest.

Image Credits: Small bunny and a huge carrot‘ © Ekaterina Voinova – Fotolia.com; Carrot takes revenge on a white rabbit © Sykwong – Fotolia.com.

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8 Responses to ‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.’

  1. Steve Jeyes says:

    Great post Mr James.

    While I like your humour it’s also cool to see your commitment to producing quality fiction. And any more than 30,000 words is a bonus, even if it does take longer. I know how much of a task it is so I fully understand.

    Keep up the good work.

    • TJames says:

      Thanks Steve,

      There’s plenty of work to keep up, so that’s my writing priority. After that I get to ‘rest’ for a few days as my beta-readers scrutinise every line. The time will be spent digging a deeper burrow to hide in.

  2. Martin says:

    Yay! More book!

    I’ve had short stories & novellas I’ve written try to become novels, so I can sympathise. While I’m looking forward to the finished product, you’ve probably already met your commitment to me on kickstarter with the total length of your blog updates alone. I feel I’ve already had the enjoyment I paid for, the rest is all bonus.

    • TJames says:

      Cheers Martin,

      I’m glad you’ve been enjoying the blog. For me it’s a useful creative outlet, a chance to write something in a different style. When it comes to writing, a change really is as good as a rest, and I find my words flow more easily when I go back to the book.

  3. Paul Simpson says:

    Hehe, I also like the humour. As long as the extra 80-90k words aren’t all yucky slushy kissy stuff, I’m sure I’ll forgive you.

    Signed

    A Bloke.

    • TJames says:

      Cheers Paul,

      Now there’s an idea! At the moment I’ve only got a romantic thread weaving its way through the action, but if I added ’80-90K…(of)… all yucky slushy kissy stuff’ then I’d have around 200K of words: enough for two books. Split the story in a half, write one more book, and I’d have a trilogy.

      From now this shall be called ‘The Simpson Plan’. If I receive any objections from Frontier or other readers I shall forward their emails to you as the originator of the idea.

      Oh, what’s that? Some dim and distant voice calling me…? It’s my conscience. Dang it! (As the Americans like to say.) It’s okay, Paul, I am being forced to abandon this new direction. Therefore ‘all yucky slushy kissy stuff’ will be balanced with plenty of other content. Your inner Bloke should be reasonably comfortable, but I have to warn you that characters in the book have conversations as well as hitting and shooting each other, and flying around in spaceships.

  4. John Harper says:

    300% Is definitely a big increase T.J. That is probably as close to the definition of an ‘organic’ story model as you’ll get. Good luck with getting it all tied together and singing nicely

    • TJames says:

      Thanks John,

      I seem to be the archetypal pantser: in my writing I usually follow a story and don’t write to any particular length. This story just decided it wanted to be a novel, not a novella. Maybe it thought that being a ‘novella’ made it sound a bit cissy – being from ‘up North’, things like that are important.

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