Well, it’s Monday, and I’m thinking about statistics. Okay, not really statistics, but numbers of some sort: this weekend, I stumbled across this new feature on Amazon book pages called Text Stats. It’s really kind of fascinating, if very wonky: it breaks down books into specifics that you (or maybe just I) would never really think about. Like the fact that The Truth About Forever has 583,334 characters, 106,566 words and 9,139 sentences. But only 7% of the words are, according to Amazon, “complex words.” Although there are 1.4 syllables per word, and 11.7 words per sentence. My favorite though, comes down to bang for your buck: if you buy the book, rest assured you’re getting 9,226 words for every dollar. That’s a bargain, right? Or maybe not, if you consider a REALLY long book, like Tom Wolfe’s most recent, I Am Charlotte Simmons: it has 24,046 words per dollar. But then again, it also has 18,937 sentences. So you probably better set aside some time for that one.
All of this is just kind of odd to me, but as I said, I don’t think about writing in such technical terms. A few years back I was teaching a writing workshop. At the end, a woman in the class began peppering me with questions. She was writing a book,and wanted to know how long mine were, on average. I said that the first was about two hundred pages, in draft form, with each getting progressively longer since then. How many words per book? she wanted to know. I had no idea. How much did I write each day? About two hours, I told her. “No,” she said, “how much. How many words? Pages?” Again, I just looked at her. “I don’t know,” I said. “It depends on whether it’s a good day or a bad one.” Clearly, she was frustrated by my answers. She wanted specifics, exactitude. But the truth is, I just don’t work like that, although I know a lot of people who do. I think it’s good to have goals when you’re writing: mine are just time related, not number, because that works for me. If I actually counted words and sentences and pages so religiously, I’d be more unstable when writing than I already am (although some days lately, I wonder if that is actually possible). So while it’s interesting to check out the Amazon stats, I would never want to know all that stuff as I was going. Too much information!
Speaking of books, I have to throw out a mention to one I read recently that I just loved. It’s called The Underminer: The Best Friend Who Casually Destroys Your Life, it’s by Mike Albo and Virginia Heffernan, and it is SO funny. I heard an excerpt awhile back on NPR’s This American Life, and now it’s an entire book. It will make you squirm, it will maybe make you angry. But it will also make you laugh out loud. I don’t know how many words or sentences it has, but you should totally read the first few pages here. It’s so rare to find something really original these days, and this is. Good stuff.
Finally, an update: I have signed up with Netflix and ordered the first season of Gilmore Girls. So I will keep you all posted. Cruising around on the website, I indulged in yet another of my addictions: documentaries. I’m signed up for Super Size Me, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster and Spellbound. So exciting. See? I have culture! Which will provide a nice balance to an upcoming week, which includes the finale of America’s Next Top Model and the O.C., as well as all kinds of drama on Starting Over.
And thus concludes this entry. Paragraphs: six. Characters: um…lots? Time spent writing: about twelve minutes. Relevance to your life in general: not much. But thanks for reading anyway.