You go here to get one.
I nicked the idea from an ex-pat Zimbabwe writer living in NZ who blogs as a cat of impossible colour. The photo is a cameo (heh heh) from her quirky blog which among other things shows Andrea, the writer, in an astounding variety of thrifted clothing. Yellow, incidentally, is a favourite colour of hers. Anyway, she has two picometers: one for her completed novel and one for a novel in progress. Since I was born just north of her (Zambia), I thought I should have one too.
No, that wasn't the reason at all. I like gadgets, especially gadgets on my blog, and leapt at the chance to have a picometer.
No, that wasn't really it either. The main reason is motivational. I wanted a picometer so that everytime I open O Audacious Book I'll be reminded how much progress I've made and haven't made on Precarious, and all my blog visitors will see the same. Little or no progress will be simply embarrassing, and hopefully this -plus loyal blog friends putting the pressure on - will drive me forwards.
It's especially important for me to get on with it now Penguin and I have shaken hands on Precarious, agreed on an advance and a completion date (end of 2009 to publish in 2010.) This is of course simply fabulous news and highly motivational in its own right, but there's nothing like a daily reminder to spur a highly distractible writer onwards.
It may seem madness to think of finishing the novel in 15 months time with Precarious clocking in at only 8,900 words, but you see I've already spend 20 months (on and off) on it: shaping the thing in my head and in a stack of notebooks. I have sorted out the voice, structure, point-of-view, themes, the main characters, the plot, the climax etc and have written the first four chapters and the final one. All of these things are critical to my being able to move forward with confidence. There is still much I don't know yet, but I'm definitely on my way.
It's interesting how I write the beginning and the end first. I did the same with The Blue - although I had more of the first part of that book written before falling upon that all-important final chapter. I just like to know where I'm headed, and the rest of the novel plays out from there. I think I read Marilynne Robinson does the same.
Anyway, back to the picometer. As you can see, I am aiming for 85,000 words which is not a long novel but which is, I think, long enough. And hey, I'm 10% done. So if I work at a rate of (gulp, just worked it out) 5,000 words a month I'll be done and dusted by the end of 2009. Note, I polish as I go so when I'm finished, I'm finished, until editing begins. And right now writing Precarious makes me feel exhilarated. I am on a roll. Long may it last.