A MILLION AND A HALF WORDS…BUT WHO’S COUNTING?

It took twenty-five years to finish my first book, The Bethlehem Scroll. I started and stopped as my “real job” in the corporate world took precedence over my desire to write a novel. That first book was published in 2009, and not long afterwards I decided to retire and become a novelist. 

Book number one, the first in the Brian Sadler Archaeological Thriller series

It took two years to write my second book, then I got into the flow There was one a year, then two and even three in recent years (including the pandemic year of 2020).  Now that I have twenty books in print, I paused to consider how many words are in those twenty novels.

I have written somewhere north of one million five hundred and fifty thousand words in eleven years. That’s a lot of dialogue, description, character development and plot structuring. In the process I’ll bet I deleted way over a hundred thousand words that were wrong for the story, or redundant, or the dreaded “loose end” that goes nowhere and has to be lopped off before publication.

Some writers claim to be introverts, but they’re required to have the gift of gab…at least on paper. I came by it naturally. In an old box I recently found my elementary school report cards from Hayes School in Ada, Oklahoma. My mother dutifully signed each card and saved it so that decades later I could look back and see what terrible harm second- through fifth-grade teachers inflicted upon an impressionable kid. (Poor me.)

I’m surprised I survived Hayes School with any confidence and self-esteem left, given those words a thirty-year-old teacher (who to a second grader appeared to be at least sixty or seventy) penned on my card before she sent it home for my mother and father to read.

Talks constantly.

Does not take instruction well.

Excellent scholar.

Will not stop talking.

            It’s a good thing even in second grade I knew that sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. And in later years when I became a novelist, I found out that words aren’t hurtful at all. In fact, they put money in my bank account.

            My point is to say I came by it naturally. I always talked. As a child, I wrote stories which, thanks again to my mother, I still have today. I told stories, tall tales, adventures both real and imaginary, and was never at a loss for words. Today as I work on novel number twenty-one, I’m thankful for the gift of gab. It’s fun to make up stuff, put it on paper and hear my readers tell me they like the stories. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

            Take that, you teachers at Hayes School in Ada, Oklahoma. 

Whoops, , I almost forgot. Thank you for patiently educating a talkative child. It must have been a challenge!

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bill thompson

Award-winning best-selling author

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