March Write Day: Monotones

Monotonous. That is how I would sum up my February. Whether it was stress at work, an uneventful social calendar, or lackluster exercise progress, February was not great for me mentally, physically, or otherwise. I’m not sure why this monotony hit me now as opposed to any other time in pandemic times, but it did.

I’m glad we’ve entered a new month, because I need something to break me out of this funk.


Last Month’s Goals

  1. Write 6,855 words for The Herb Witch Tales #2.
  2. Do more yoga and resistance training.
  3. Finish 4 books.

Write 6,855 words?

Nope. I buried the lead by saying I didn’t make much exercise progress, but I also didn’t make much writing progress! I wrote about 3,300 words in February, which isn’t terrible, but I’m definitely not proud of it. I just lost motivation about halfway through the month for reasons other than my story.

In the last week of the month, I decided to begin the third draft of Uprooted, giving myself a break from drafting its sequel by hand in a journal. I wrote over 500 words in one short sitting, I wish I had turned to this story earlier in the month. I probably could have gotten a lot more done.

My as yet untitled part 2 is still coming along, just not as quickly as I would like. I’m at a pivotal point in the story where tension between two characters is supposed to be escalating, and I’m having trouble hitting the right emotional notes. Now that I’m more than two-thirds of the way towards my total word count goal of 38k, I also have my sights set on the ending. So, this is just an important point int he drafting process that I simply did not have the determinaiton to attack in February.

I’m hoping that revisiting part 1 and shoring up some of the larger issues with these stories in that draft will help me prepare for the ending of part 2.

Do more yoga and resistance training?

I started off strong but fell off my routine a bit towards the end of the month. When I’m in a funk, everything tends to spiral, so I’m not surprised this happened. Luckily, I’ve already started off on a good foot in March, so I’m not too worried. I like exercising regularly way more than I like not doing that. I just need to make it a point to do so during the day.

You’ll see this in my goals for this month, but I really want to focus on exercising more consistently, and continuing to add variety to my routine.

Finish 4 books?

No, but I’m not taking full blame for this one. I finished two books in February and am most of the way through three others. I got stuck on Crossroads of Twilight, which became even more of a slog of a book than I thought last month. I just didn’t feel like reading it, which may be the first time that’s happened with a Wheel of Time novel. Luckily, I’ve reached a point in the book that’s a bit more interesting. At this point, I just want to finish the damn thing so I can complain about it in my review.

On a positive note, I’ve dipped back into comics for my reading for the first time in probably… two decades. I’ve really enjoyed the MCU films, and particularly Thor, so I wanted to read some of the more recent Thor comics. With Thor: Love and Thunder coming out in the relative future, and rumors flying around about Jane Foster as Thor, I settled on Jason Aaron’s run with the Thor comics from about 2012 forward. He wrote the series, Thor: God of Thunder, that eventually leads to Jane Foster taking up the hammer and continued the arc from there.

So I’m buying the collected volumes of those issues wherever I find them. Currently on volume two, Godbomb, and really enjoying it. As a friend and avid comics reader told me recently, Marvel’s “Marvel Now” run of comics in the late 00’s and early 2010’s was designed to bring in non-comics readers by resetting a lot of their characters’ stories and not bogging them down with decades of canon. Which is just… I’m the precise audience for this.

That’s honestly one of the highlights of February for me.

Goals for March

  1. Write 6,000 words. I don’t care which of my Herb Witch Tales drafts I end up putting more time into this month. I just want to hit my word count goal. More than likely I will work on each as the mood takes me, which is probably for the better anyway.
  2. Work out at least every other day. This is a slightly different goal, but is more to the point of my exercise routine. If I take more than one day off in a row, I start to feel it physically and mentally. So, regardless of how many days I work out this month, I just don’t want to let my days off take away from my routine.
  3. Finish 4 books. Okay, I really am in the best position possible to do this in March. I have 200 pages left in Crossroads, barely a chapter left in an audiobook, and a freaking comic to finish. I should be able to finish each of those this week without trying, and easily polish off another book by April.

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

Seeing the Story Trees for the World-Building Forest

Creativity Sessions writing process. Evening Satellite Publishing.

I already don’t like that strained analogy of a title, but we’re going with it unless I can think of something better. The writing part of my brain pretty reliably ebbs and flows between two points. Sometimes, all I can think about is the story in front of me and how I can bring it to fruition. Other times, all I can think of is all the stories except the one immediately in front of me.

I’ve been pretty heads-down on part 2 of The Herb Witch Tales the last few weeks, but recently, my mindset and thought process has started to shift. This is a natural phase for me, but it’s helped me come to a bigger realization about my writing. I need to focus more on the stories themselves. Continue reading “Seeing the Story Trees for the World-Building Forest”

Book Review: MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING, by Viktor E. Frankl

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl, book cover, book review

I picked up Man’s Search for Meaning on Audible at the recommendation of a friend. I had heard of this work and Frankl before, but I didn’t really know anything about him, or about why he wrote this book.

I gravitate towards books about the big questions and especially existentialism, so this seemed right up my alley. (You will recall I just recently finished a Stephen Hawking intro to cosmology and quantum physics.)

Man’s Search for Meaning ended up being completely not what I expected and also much more gratifying than I had hoped. This post is less a review than a brief look at how Frankl’s book impacted my own perspective on meaning and existence. Continue reading “Book Review: MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING, by Viktor E. Frankl”

February Write Day: Movement

January went somewhat fast in retrospect, but in the moment it felt like the longest month since… October. A lot happened, and about the only things keeping me from losing my mind to utter despair about the world are spending time with my son and having my existentialist grounding reinforced by some appropriate reading.

Did that get too dark? That was probably too dark. Onto the goals! Continue reading “February Write Day: Movement”