Friends, what is the author's best friend? The dictionary? No, friends, not the dictionary. The notebook? No, friends, not the notebook. The long-suffering other half who respectfully stays away while we stare furiously at the empty Word document in front of us, patiently paying the rent while we wait for our writing career to generate those millions of dollars we foolishly hoped for? No, friends, it isn't the long suffering other half. (Sorry, boyfriend.) No, friends, the author's best friend is the calculator, whether it be real, virtual, or internal. Why the calculator? I'll tell you why the calculator.
In days of slow progress, when developments can be measured in millimetres rather than miles, our internal calculator can be the agent of movement. See, today, I got started on the extremely complicated and lengthy Big Project that I have now been procrastinating over for several weeks. In my head, this morning, I heard the once-feared voice of my old University tutor, intoning: "That dissertation won't write itself, you know," and "Believe me, you just need to get started. After that, everything is simple".
I sat down and got to work. Keeping at bay the dark thoughts about the long and arduous task that lies ahead, I got writing. What do you know? Ol' Dr. Fox was right! Once I'd got started, the narrative came pouring out like a lovely, tinkling little stream, only where I say "lovely tinkling little stream", substitute "dark, harrowing, over-emotionally involved narrative that is mediated only by substantial gallows humour".
This is only the beginning, and there's a long way to go. I'm under no illusions whatsoever about how difficult the rest of the project is going to be to write. But I was encouraged by my word count: almost 2,000 words, when I expect the finished book to land at around 100,000. I did myself a small bit of mental arithmetic and worked out, "2,000 words a day? Writing every day? I can get this thing written in 50 days, EASY." (Heh.) It's not true. I most certainly won't get the first draft finished in 50 days. Maybe a hundred... but being able to make a start, and to see the word count creeping steadily up in front of me: that was a big booster, when as recently as only yesterday all I had was fear and paralysing inadequacy. Let this be a lesson to you all, or something.
PS. I have got a "book" coming out soon. (and when I say "book", I mean "short story").