My Ever-Evolving To Be Read or Watched List

I don’t think I’ve ever done a real TBR on this site before, except as art of summaries of what I have been reading or watching and what I might do next. So, why not do one now?

The glut of content nowadays is often overwhelming (I say as I think about future novel ideas), so honestly I feel like I need to set an intention, so to speak, of what things I’d like to focus my attention on for the next several months.

I’m definitely not going to outline every single thing I plan to read or watch this year. We’ll just cover the highlights.

To Be Read

  1. The Wheel of Time I’ve talked about this a lot recently, because it’s been very front-and-center in my brain. I will definitely finish reading this series this year, without a doubt. I’m on book 13 of 14 currently and plan to continue through until the end.
  2. The Saxon Stories, or The Last Kingdom series – This series seems to have many names, but it doesn’t matter because I’ve only read the first book — both abridged and unabridged versions, because I didn’t pay attention to the Audible cover — and I love it. I have book 2 ready and waiting, and I’ll likely be unable to resist it as my next audiobook listen. I definitely won’t finish the series this year, but I like the idea of having an entertaining staple to fall back on when I need it.
  3. An Encyclopedia of Tolkienwhich my wife got me for Christmas last year and keeps tempting me from the shelf. One fantasy series at a time, damn it! Having recently read through The Lord of the Rings, and with the new series set to debut on Prime in September, this seems like the right time to pore over this tome and absorb everything Tolkien-related I can.
  4. Brandon Sanderson – I haven’t even decided which of his series I will start with, but I know I need to dive into his work after I finish The Wheel of Time.
  5. The Storyteller: Tales of Life and MusicDave Grohl’s memoir, which my wife got me for Christmas this past year. The Foo Fighters are one of my favorite bands, and Grohl is awesome. He’s one of the few celebrities I legitimately want to meet and hang out with. Maybe he’ll read this blog and message me!!
  6. A few good social science-y type books – I try to pepper my reading list with history, anthropology, global issues, or other books that blend academic with nonfiction topics. Audible makes it much easier to churn through a few of these at a more reasonable pace. Otherwise, I get bogged down in the details on the page, rather than the overall concepts and ideas. Fun fact: these types of books can be great idea fodder for world-building.

Honestly, that probably about covers my reading list for the year, unless specific titles catch my eye. To the watch list!

To Be Watched

  1. MCU – Particularly the new Doctor Strange. I also still haven’t seen the second and third Spider-Man films. At this point I might just buy them on BluRay since Disney+ inexplicably does not carry them.
  2. Star Wars – Especially the Kenobi series and The Mandalorian season 3, but I know there are a ton of other things coming that I will definitely check out.

Now that those are out of the way…

  1. The Rings of PowerThis is probably a no-brainer, but it deserves mention since I don’t think I’ve written about this show before today, or maybe only in passing. Based on the trailers Prime has released, I have high hopes that this will be enjoyable and well-made.
  2. The Witcher, season 2 – I really enjoyed the first season and was eagerly awaiting the second. For some reason, Netflix had to release this exactly when every other series/franchise was releasing a new season.
  3. Jurassic World movies 2 and 3 – Guilty pleasure pick. I love Jurassic Park (the book and the movie), and even though the most recent franchise is light on the substance and heavy on the spectacle, they’re solid action flicks. And they have. Freakin’. Dinosaurs. Yes, I’m an adult.
  4. The Last Dance – Another one that’s been on my list for ages, this docuseries about Michael Jordan and the Bulls got rave reviews by people I listen to/read who love basketball, so I’ll probably enjoy it, too.
  5. The 15+ other documentaries on my list in Netflix – Aside from the above, there are just too many for me to name. Animal documentaries, six of which, it seems, were all somehow narrated by David Attenborough in the same year, a mushroom documentary, a documentary about drummers, Netflix’s super over-produced historical docuseries. Not Tiger King, though. I missed that train and do not regret it.

That’s a solid watch list for now. Much like my reading habits, I tend to fixate on specific series, franchises, or types of shows/films for a time. At the moment I’m more interested in delving into the back-catalogs on the big streaming services to see movies or shows I may have missed, so if you have any recommendations, let me know.

Is there anything I’m definitely missing out on by not reading or watching right this second?

Steve D

On Writing in a Year without Big Goals

Each of the last couple years I’ve started January with big ideas for what I wanted to accomplish for that year. My goals tend to be ambitious, but still within the realm of possibility. Still, I’ve learned that it’s difficult for me to project progress on any long-term project more than a few months out–or sometimes more than a few weeks out.

Creativity Sessions writing process. Evening Satellite Publishing.

Looking at my annual goals posts from 2020 and 2021 may give the impression of a writer who overshoots and under-delivers, and that’s not inaccurate. I have had some big goals in mind over the last couple of years, notably the publishing of my still-in-progress novellas in The Herb Witch Tales series. I just also know that there have been other factors at play. The usual suspects come to mind: family, work, existential dread, a global pandemic.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s tough for me to project my progress on something more than a few months out. Projecting how much I can write in a year is a murky endeavor. Trying to throw the entire editing, revising, proofreading, and publishing process on top of that is basically insane.

At least, that’s what I’ve learned over the last couple years.

I’ve also learned that I am not the publish-something-every-year-or-two type of writer. My last meaningful publication was my 12-part short story, “The Grand Mythos of Úr’Dan“, which I ran as an experimental monthly serial throughout 2019. It’s probably more like every “few” years, depending on when I click Publish next. Basically, I’m closer to Patrick Rothfuss than Brandon Sanderson–in publishing cycles, not skill level!

The Year without Goals

That all is to say that I will not be posting an ambitious book marketing/publishing post this year. I definitely have goals, and I will detail them through my monthly Write Day posts. What has changed for me recently is that those monthly goals are enough for me at this moment in my life.

My long-term goals have necessarily and totally predictably shifted to bigger things: navigating the whole *waves arms emphatically* world right now; raising two boys, one of whom has learned the f-word from daycare (yea!); beginning the house-hunting process in the next year; family and friends and holidays, which all require a lot of extra planning and consideration and fuckin’ caution than they used to.

It’s a lot, and it means that thinking about where I might be in the publishing process in autumn 2022 is just not a concern for me today.

Writing Rhythm

However, that all doesn’t mean I haven’t picked up on a few of my writing habits…

  • I know that I can be a productive writer by writing immediately after work, or right after getting the toddler to bed.
  • I know that writing a couple days in a row or more than three times per week motivates me to continue, regardless of how much or how little progress I make in those sessions.
  • I know that once a character is embedded in my brain I find it easier to write them, which just takes practice and patience–not trying to churn out an entire novella in a month.
  • I know that motivating myself to write regularly helps my self-confidence, my self-worth, and my overall mental wellbeing.
  • And I know that writing 10,000 words each month is very doable if I stick to each of the above points.

That’s really my only writing goal this year–not to write 120,000 words on the dot, but to aim for 10,000 words each month, to build consistently and steadily until, come December 31, 2022, I will have written a whole hell of a lot.

I’m currently on pace for about 9,000 words in January, so maybe in February or March I aim for 11,000. The point is, it doesn’t matter much right now.

I’m moving forward. I know what the ultimate goal is, but I also know I need to focus on the day-to-day first.

Steve D

Midway Checkpoint: The Wheel of Time Show’s Jam-Packed Ambitions

Back in September, I allowed myself to get a little pre-hyped for Amazon Prime’s The Wheel of Time series, and I promised that I would check back in after the first couple episodes. The Wheel of Time show currently has six episodes released, and I have watched the first five, so I am definitely overdue for this post.

Spoiler warning: I will be discussing events in the TV show only, through episode 5–which maybe means this isn’t really spoiler-y. Anyway, anything that has happened in the first five episodes is fair game for this post. Although I am a current book reader I will not bring up any events from the books that have not yet been depicted on the show.

Honestly, I don’t feel like there’s a whole lot to spoil at this point in the series, which is maybe part of the problem I have with it so far. These first five episodes feel so packed with plot-building, and world-building, and characters, and movement that I have to imagine it’s difficult for casual viewers to keep track of everything and everyone that’s happened so far.

In five short episodes we’ve seen seven primary characters–Rand, Mat, Perrin, Egwene, Nynaeve, Moiraine, Lan–come together, split apart, and (almost) reunite in Tar Valon, while also meeting half a dozen other characters who appear to have some part to play this season. Stepin, Liandrin, Alanna, Logain, Eamon Valda, and Aram all seemed poised to round out a pretty full cast of characters and factions with whom that party-of-seven would have to contend. Stepin has already off’ed himself, and Aram seems to have exited the story for now, but this is still a list of characters I would…

a) never have expected to meet or be asked to care about in the first place,

b) never have expected to meet this quickly,

and c) don’t think quite fit together in an 8-episode season that is now more than halfway over with no clear central conflict having yet emerged.

The one through-line of all of this is that no one knows who the Dragon Reborn is yet, which, fine, that’s a mystery for people who haven’t read the books. But it doesn’t feel like a conflict to me.

I think my point here is that this show, so far, feels like an oversized plot that does not take the necessary steps to make me care about these people. I care, at the moment, because I’m reading the books, but that’s not enough when viewing this show in isolation.

Onto more positive notes…

Okay, I don’t want to be all cynical about this show, because I am enjoying it for what it is. The acting is great overall, the landscapes and set pieces are stellar, and the story has a compelling pace.

Listening to a podcast interview of showrunner Rafe Judkins has me confident that the man behind the curtain knows what he’s doing in trying to adapt a massive story to the small screen, where we do not have the luxury of 400 pages to tell the first part.

The first three episodes, which were dropped all at once on Prime, are heavy on lore and trying to get the viewer to even understand what the hell the Dragon Reborn is supposed to be. In hindsight, it makes perfect sense that Prime decided to present the first three episodes all at once. I think episode one on its own would have been too jarring for most people; it moves at a break-neck pace, introducing a host of characters and tons of lore, has a thrilling climax, and then ends with barely a moment to breathe.

Episode 4, in which Nynaeve discovers her ability to touch the One Power in stunning fashion, is when I decided I liked this show. I can see past the overloaded plot if we get moments as powerful as that a couple times per season.

Three more to go

Looking ahead, it’s hard to believe that this season is only going to be eight episodes. I really have no idea what sort of “ending” this first season could possibly have, unless they decide that season one is just a prologue.

All in all, I’m enjoying watching this show, but I have lingering concerns that the showrunners have tried to pack too much into so short a season for it to have much meaning. I hope to be proven wrong.

Steve D

Book Review: KNIFE OF DREAMS sets up an epic final act for THE WHEEL OF TIME

I recently finished reading Knife of Dreams, The Wheel of Time #11. You may remember that in my previous entries about some of the books in this series, I have lamented the plodding pace of the narrative, especially for particular point-of-view characters.

After a few books’ worth of dragging plotlines, Knife of Dreams finally brings some real momentum to this series, and ties off a few narrative threads in the process.

For the most part, the reader spends several chapters with a particular character at a time, watching their narrative unfold in more depth. Unlike in previous books, however, there is actually forward progress with the main characters, and Jordan even returns to each character towards the end of the book to see where they’ve landed.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was glad to find it spent the most time with only three of the primary characters: Mat, Perrin, and Elayne. There are check-in sections with Rand, Egwene, and others, mostly serving as compelling placeholders for things to come in the next book(s).

The three or four smaller plot lines that are all tied off in this momentous installment is clearly guiding the reader and each of the characters towards one thing: the Last Battle. With only three books left in the series — I say that as if each book wasn’t more than 600 pages — Knife of Dreams is definitely setting up the end game for the series.

I’m not ready to forgive the narrative slog that was books 7 through 10 (especially 10). I can see that groundwork that Jordan was laying for the mini-climaxes in previous books. I’m just not convinced that it needed to take as long as it did to get to this point.

Anyway, I feel like I’m over the hump of the middle part of this series, and I’m ready to jump into the final three books, which were completed by Brandon Sanderson after Robert Jordan’s death. The Gathering Storm (book 12) will be my first introduction to Sanderson’s writing, so I’m excited to see how he adapts Jordan’s story and narrative style. Then I can start reading Sanderson’s own work!

Steve D

Ending a Story is an Act of Courage

Endings are hard. I think writing endings is the most difficult and also one of the most enjoyable parts of the writing process for me.

You spend weeks or months (or years) outlining, drafting, and re-drafting a story, and you finally get to the ending. Not just the end of your first draft, but The End. The ending of the draft that, while not final, is likely to be as close to final as you’ll come while writing new content.

That’s where I’m at with my current draft of Uprooted, The Herb Witch Tales #1. I know I have a lot more editing to put into this story before it can be considered Final, but I also know that the ending to this draft will look very similar to the ending of that final published story.

I keep thinking about all of the other ways I could tell this story. What if my protagonist was less capable in her survival? What if the dynamics of her family were less positive? What if, what if, what if?

Writing a story is like entering the Multiverse and trying to decide which of the infinite timelines you and your characters will follow. Ending a story is deciding that you followed the most compelling, the most believable, and the most satisfying timeline.

That’s why I think ending a story is an act of courage, from a writing perspective. You need the determination to say to yourself, “Yes, this is the ending I have intended for this story.” And then you need to prepare to move on from that ending, whether that’s publishing the story or starting a new one.

So I’m overthinking my ending, even as I write it. The moment will come quite soon when I need to decide that it is The Ending. Now if I could just get back to writing it.

Steve D

Wheel of Time TV Series Pre-Hype Thoughts

I have not been paying attention to the developments and under-current of hype surrounding Amazon Prime’s The Wheel of Time series. I sort of forgot that it was coming out this year until I saw the below trailer. I haven’t looked at casting choices (although I recognize a few faces), I haven’t read any theory-blogs about how they’re going to tell this massive, sweeping story on-screen, and I have no idea if it will be any good.

And I’m slowly getting more and more excited for this series to debut.

I think that’s largely because I know so little about The Wheel of Time show. I’ve read exactly one piece about this show over on MLS Weech’s blog, which got me excited and inspired me to write this post. I have no pre-conceived notions of what this show should be. I just want it to be good.

I also don’t want them to speed-run to the series finale in 20 hours. This is the type of series that deserves several seasons of earnest plot- and character-building before they streamline the ending. However, unless Amazon is planning to do this for 25 seasons, this series just feels too massive to be done faithfully on TV. (If any streamer could commit to a 25-year plan for a series, it’s probably Amazon.) I’m honestly excited to see how they fit that much plot into a television format. I’m currently on book 11 out of 14 in the book series, so as long as I can finish the series before the show ends, I’d be satisfied.

To me, the story is pretty straightforward through book three, The Dragon Reborn, but once the two primary groups of main characters splinter into their own individual narratives, the storylines become more complicated, so many more characters are introduced, and the sub-plots-within-sub-plots become more convoluted.

Somehow, Brandon Sanderson was able to corral all of that narrative bloat into a three-book finale really well, so I’m hoping the showrunners for the TV show take a few pages from his book on telling a sprawling story in a concise form, without losing the flavor.

The one other thing I’d like to see with this show is a serialized release. Rather than dropping X episodes on their platform at once, I’d like to see Amazon release the show one episode at a time, similar to what Disney+ has done with its Star Wars and Marvel shows. The Wheel of Time deserves to be “event TV”, and releasing it per episode will help make each new installment feel like an event.

Two of my cousins-in-law are also eager to watch the show, so I’m hoping we can all experience it together — at least virtually.

Okay, now I’m getting a little hyped. Let’s check back after the first couple episodes, shall we?

Steve D

September Write Day: Stretch Goals

August was pretty chill, despite the blazing heat for most of the month. I was on paternity leave for three weeks, having only returned to work on Monday, meaning I was off for almost the entire month. It was great to really disconnect from work and just spend time at home.

The infant is doing well. He’s grown more than two pounds in his first few weeks, and the toddler is adjusting to his new baby brother well… so far.

I’m happy with the progress I made on both writing and reading, and we (meaning I, since my wife has been recovering from childbirth) managed to get a lot done around the house.

Let’s get to it!

Last Month’s Goals

  1. Actually enjoy paternity leave.
  2. Write 8,000 words.
  3. Read 3 books.

So how did I do?

Enjoy paternity leave?

I did! There was little sleep to be had, but it was great being home with the family all day. The toddler is really sweet with his baby brother, saying hi and goodbye to him and even kissing him on the forehead at bedtime.

We do not expect that to last. As soon as the baby is crawling around and grabbing at all the toddler’s toys, it will be a different story. For now, though, it’s lovely.

It has been a long time since I’ve been able to completely disconnect from work for such a long stretch. I have the type of job where even a week-long vacation can be interrupted by an “urgent” meeting that I call into from the basement of a beach rental wearing only a bathing suit.

So being required by law to not respond to any work messages, turning off email and chat notifications on my phone, and not being called with “emergency” questions worked wonders for my mental health. My supervisor also did a great job protecting me from any such nonsense while I was out.

Write 8,000 words?

Yes! I beat my goal! I wrote 8,409 words in August, and I had actually been somewhat hoping for even more.

I got off to a good start and was never out of reach of my goal. There were still a few too many gaps between writing days for my liking, but I’m just picky like that. I wrote 18 of 31 days, and I had a good spread of volume, ranging from 44 words to 900+ with a good mix in between. That means that even when I struggled to write much, I was able to rebound pretty quickly.

The one downside to being able to focus on writing so much without work is that I now wish more than ever that I could write full-time. I’m not financially prepared for such an endeavor, but it will definitely linger in the back of my mind. Even if I can retire a few years “early” to focus on writing, that would be awesome.

Mini Update on Uprooted, The Herb Witch Tales #1

My draft for this story now sits at just over 40,000 words, and I anticipate another 3-4k to finish the story. I ended up writing a large portion of this draft from scratch, scrapping entire chapters from my previous draft because of changes I decided to make to the plot.

I definitely want to finish this draft quickly, but then I want to reread and revise it a couple times to ensure I have the main plot points and details worked out. That will be the goal for September before I begin the second draft of New Earth, The Herb Witch Tales #2.

That’s the title I’m probably going with, by the way.

Read 3 books?

Not quite. I read two books in August, both of which I published reviews for: one a historical fiction set in Roman Dacia, and the other being Jurassic Park.

I’m about 80% done with another story on Audible and will definitely finish it in the next few days. I didn’t read much in print copies, but with a week-long beach vacation coming up, I plan to remedy that.

Goals for September

  1. Finish current draft of Uprooted and write 5,000 words. I don’t know exactly how much I’ll need to write to complete THW1, but 5k should get me there. If I finish the draft having only written 3.5k words, I’ll be satisfied. I’m also not planning on writing much more than that because we have a busy month, including the aforementioned beach vacation, where I will be staring at the ocean instead of a computer screen.
  2. Read through Uprooted. This will be a self-editing phase for this story. I already have some notes I want to make, but this will help me see the entire story together as one piece, rather than the little sections I’ve been writing for months. I will likely print out my manuscript so I can read and mark with red pen while on vacation.
  3. Read 4 books. With one book nearly completed, this shouldn’t be too hard. The bigger difficulty may be in deciding which books to read. I might be ready to jump back into The Wheel of Time.

Steve D

NaNoWriMo as a Year-Round Tool

I can’t believe I’ve been using NaNoWriMo since 2014 and never really thought to use it outside of the main competition. I’ve participated in their April and July Camps before, but that’s about it.

It has been an incredible tool the last couple months as I try to improve my day-to-day writing routine.

I’ve always tracked my word count as I write. That’s how I set monthly goals. But that was all on a spreadsheet.

NaNo lets you set goals for whatever time period you want — I do monthly — and then tracks how much you need to write per day to achieve that goal.

This has been especially helpful during the grind of writing. Every writer knows what I mean. You hit a point in your story or your schedule that just drags. You feel like you can’t get over the hump, but you know you have to.

NaNo’s words per day tracker is a lifeline during the writing grind. If I’m trying to eek out a sliver of progress for the night, I use the daily tracker to have that small goal. 500 words needed for the day… 400… 200. Then you’re done and still on track.

That’s a small tool that can keep you moving forward when you hit a natrative or mental snag.

That’s really all I wanted to say today. If you need something to help you track your writing progress, look no further than National Novel Writing Month.

Steve D

Self-Critique on My Writing Progress

Now that we’re nearly five months through the year, and with my writing progress not going as quickly as I had hoped to this point, I’d like to take a look at the particulars of my writing habits this year. This is on my mind, because I’d like to start doing conventions again in 2022, and I would like to have some new material to showcase.

My ongoing work-in-progress has been a two-part novella that I will publish as separate stories in ebook and then print as one volume for conventions: Uprooted, The Herb Witch Tales #1 and [untitled], The Herb Witch Tales #2. I haven’t technically finished the first draft of part 2, and I am really only just starting a third revision of part 1, followed by a pretty significant overhaul of part 2.

In short: I’m not nearly as far along in this process as I had hoped to be, considering I would like to have these stories published and ready for readers in the next 12 months, if not less.

So, I’m going to examine my own writing progress so far this year and try to identify where I can improve — aside from just Writing More.

First let’s look at the overall progress I’ve made month to month compared to my goals for those months:

  • January Goal: 7,000
  • January Actual: 6,270

Okay, that’s not bad. I came up short, but still made really solid progress.

  • February Goal: 6,855
  • February Actual: 3,346
  • March Goal: 6,000
  • March Actual: 4,074
  • April Goal: 6,000
  • April Actual: 4,437

The last three months were markedly worse, although after a significant drop-off in writing productivity in February, I’ve started to climb back up.

Still, that’s a deficit of 7,728 words written in the first four months of this year. Let’s break this down further.

January Deep Dive

That image is from my NaNoWriMo writing goals tracker, which I’ve been using all year to track my daily writing progress and my monthly goals. The light blue line is a daily average to achieve my writing goal for the month; the dark blue line is my actual writing progress. Looking at my January progress above, a few things become immediately apparent:

  • I started writing late in the month, not logging any progress until Jan. 9.
  • I logged progress 11 out of 31 days.
  • I used some heavy writing efforts at the end of the month to try to squeeze by my goal, ultimately coming up short.

There are some obvious conclusions to draw there, but let’s look at the other months first.

February-March Deep Dives

There’s February. My progress was a little steadier, but I still only logged progress 10 days out of 28. There are also two noticeable gaps where I went a few days without any progress. My pace looks steadier in that line graph than in January, but I just didn’t write enough.

And it’s much the same story for March and April, respectively. I don’t want to overload this post with screenshots of line graphs, so I’ll just summarize those months:

  • In March I wrote 9 days out of 31, which sounds terribly low.
  • My March progress was always backloaded with my trying in vain to catch up.
  • In April I wrote 12 out of 30 days, a solid improvement.
  • However, 2 of those days totaled less than 200 words, and aside from a few big writing gains at the end of the month, I had too many gaps between writing.

Analysis

So out of 120 possible writing days from January through April, I only logged writing progress on 32 days. That’s time spent writing only 26% of available days. If I extrapolated that across the year, I would only write about 95 days in 2021.

I’m never going to be an everyday writer, and I haven’t tried to be in a long time, but I feel like that effort is pitifully low.

For the 32 days I actually sat down to write, my average word count per session is 566, which is honestly higher than I expected. If I can have that same kind of output over the course of more days, my writing progress could take a noticeable leap.

I’ve also had a habit of getting a late start in in the month, going several days or even a week before logging my first writing progress. This leaves me far behind my goal and scrambling to catch up.

Finally, I too often have gaps of 3+ days between writing sessions. That is obviously part of what contributes to me only writing somewhere around 10 days out of each month. I just need to write more consistently.

Changing It Up

As I said at the top, I need to be a bit more proactive than just trying to Write More. I need a better strategy to fit writing into my day, even if it’s not every single day.

I started to try one new strategy at the end of April, and it really seemed to help. I think it’s also helping me write mote often in May.

I started to bake writing time into the end of my work day. I’m still working from home for at least the next couple months, so I started to logoff my work computer around the usual time, and then login to my personal/writing computer for 15 minutes or even up to an hour to focus on writing.

This allows me to use the mental energy that I typically still have at the end of my work day to focus on my writing. Otherwise, I logoff work, spend time with the family, prepare/clean up after dinner, try to relax a bit, and by that point it’s 9 or 10, and I’m exhausted.

Writing immediately after work allows me to decompress, tends to be more fruitful than writing later in the night when I’m tired, and allows me to relax with my family more without the weight of not-writing hanging over me.

I’ve written 7 out of 18 days in May so far, and my word count per session is around 400. With two busy weekends in a row coming up, I need these post-work writing sessions to carry me for the rest of the month. We’ll see how it goes, but this is already working better for me than my previous non-strategy.

Steve D

Numberbrag 2020 and Best-Laid Plans

It’s (roughly) the beginning of a new year, so it’s time for another edition of one of my favorite series on this site: Numberbrag! If you’re new here, Numberbrag is my generally annual post where I review how my blog performed the previous year, using only WordPress stats. Here’s last year’s edition.

In that post, I alluded to a new blogging routine that really carried me through 2020: one long-form post and one haiku, on the same days and at the same times, every week. I occasionally missed my usual publication time, but I never missed a day. In short, my blogging routine for this year was nothing short of a massive success, for me personally and for my number-bragging.

Let’s get to it.

The Top-Line Numbers

First of all, very strange that 2021 is the eighth year of this site. Secondly, 2020 was pretty solid!

  • Views: 6,135
  • Visitors: 4,692
  • Likes: 923
  • Comments: 52
  • Posts: 134

Now, some folks might find the slight downward trend from 2018 to 2020 a little odd or even disconcerting. However, 2018 was the year I published my first novel. As part of the run-up to that publication, I used pay-per-click ads to drive traffic to this site, boosting the totals for 2018 by over 1,000 Visitors and Views. So that peak is a little inflated.

Secondly, I’m not the least bit concerned that 2020 did not match even 2017’s total Views. In 2017, we had two bloggers posting 3-5 times per week for a total of 262 posts. Want to know how many posts were published the last two years? 214 and 134. One hundred and thirty-four posts in 2020, in a year that started slowly, and my numbers are still on par with, if a little short of, past performance. That’s efficiency.

It also indicates quality of content. Check out this deeper annual comparison. (Note: I realize that the Total Posts in the below screenshot say 131, whereas the image above says 134. I know there is a logical if annoying reason for that happening in WordPress’s system, but I don’t remember what it is.)

2020 posts were waaaaaay down from previous years — every year since we started, in fact. Comments per post are steady, and Total Words are down. But Average likes per post is up (7.0), the second-highest rate we’ve ever had, and Words per post (404) is the highest ever. That means that the content we’re publishing here is more popular, even at higher word counts, where readers may get bored and leave.

This post is officially longer than 404 words, by the way.

The Fun Numbers

I’m going to skip over the usual Top 10 Posts section, because there’s not much different to say from any other year. Our new Home page clocked in at #4 with 184 Views. The other 9 on that list are old-familiars that were published prior to 2020.

What I’d rather look at are the categories I personally posted in this year. Marcy contributed 25 posts of her own, and I’m so happy she did. But this section is about me!

I ended last year’s Numberbrag by guesstimating how many posts I wanted to write in each category, so of course I have to follow-up on that. Here’s the gist of what I predicted/wanted to achieve this time last year:

  • Haiku – 50+ posts
  • Fantasy – 16+
  • Reviews – 15+
  • Creativity Sessions – 12+
  • Marketing Your Novel – 10+

So what did I actually write last year?

  1. Haiku – 55 posts
  2. Fantasy – 15 posts
  3. Reviews – 12 posts
  4. Creativity Sessions – 10 posts
  5. Marketing Your Novel – 8 posts

Wow. Chalk. I’m honestly surprised at how close my predictions were. My Reviews were only down by 3, even though I stopped commuting to work and thus couldn’t listen to Audible as reliably. Creativity Sessions and Marketing Your Novel were each down by 2, but that can be explained by the 3 extra Haiku I posted on non-haiku days when I was too busy or stressed to write a real post.

Also, I definitely would have written at least two more Marketing posts if I had gone to a number of conventions greater than 0.

So, a boring rundown, if precision can be considered boring.

I honestly thought that section was going to be longer, so I’ll round out this post with some more generic stats.

We’ve done “Thank You” type posts in the past when we’ve reached certain milestones, but I didn’t do any of that this past year, because my more sensible blogging schedule meant I consistently had other things to talk about.

As of this writing, we’ve eclipsed 28,000 Visitors and 40,000 Views. We also now have over 700 followers. (Shout-out to all the fitness bloggers who likely found us because I talked about yoga a lot in 2020.)

That’s awesome. Thank you, dear readers, for your continued support. Despite the lack of humility in this post (it’s called Numberbrag!), I really am chuffed that this site has evolved so much over the last 7+ years, and yet continues to have an audience. I don’t particularly care that we don’t see 100 hits per day or thousands of followers. I’m always happy to see familiar avatars liking and commenting on our posts, so I hope you all keep coming back. I’ve firmly settled into a rhythm with this site, and I’m sticking to it.

At least until I need another change-up.

Steve D