Friday, October 23, 2009

On to 118,000 Words


If I were an accountant, I’d be a bean counter. But I am a book author, I work with words—so I am a word counter.

“You count words?! Now, how silly is that?” you might ask.


Well, I had been counting words for over 20 years, I can’t stop now.

As a creative writer in an ad agency, I was careful with words. Ad writers are to words, as the royal guards are to the crown jewels. Our ads were mostly 30 seconds long, so they would take no more than 50 words. Beyond that, we’d be mutilated and maimed by our clients.

You see, the cost of a 30-second ad can buy you a car, or a house, or a palace, depending on how glitzy you want it. From ad creation to execution to production to airing, it’s money, money, money. If your ad went beyond the 30-second limit, the TV network would either cut it or charge you double.

“Count your words, count your words!” I would later castigate my young writers who dreamt of becoming poets after earning enough money in advertising.

And so word-counting is, let’s just say, a habit I can’t kick or lick. It runs in my veins.

When once my publisher asked me to write about myself, I asked, “How many words?”

She looked at me with such incredulity, I forgot to laugh.

And so I am counting words once again. I have started writing a new book, which when finished, will have no less than 118,000 words! It will be the longest book I shall have written. And nothing delights me more than the joy of choosing, at least 118,000 times, the right word to string with the carefully chosen others.

Why have I decided on the number of words when I am just beginning?

The book is a daily devotional for busy women, and if I were to keep each devotion at a compelling, readable length, I need to clear out my mind of stray thoughts that, like unwanted and unwieldy weeds, grow with reckless abandon.

These days, the moment I wake up, despite tummy torment, I covet the long and steady stream of grace that God will continually grant me as I write towards the length of 118,000 words in my manuscript.

2 comments:

aleks said...

I remember asking you once to write a 200-word piece for our newsletter. When you turned in your mini-article, I counted: two hundred words. No more, no less. Wow.

Looking forward to marketing your devotional for women -- and eventually counting, not the words, but the lives that your words will touch, by God's grace.

Keep counting your words, Ate Grace! And your blessings.

Grace D. Chong said...

Will do, will do, Aleks. Thanks for taking time off from your busy schedule to write me a note. I really appreciate it!