Passing on the Storytelling Love

Our four-year-old loves to read before bed. Reading has been baked into his bedtime routine since he was a baby. He takes a bath, brushes his teeth, gets his pajamas on, picks some books, and then we snuggle up to read.

I always let him pick the books. I tell him how many we have time for, and he makes the picks. He usually goes through phases of reading three same three to five stories ecru night for a couple weeks, until a new set is chosen.

I usually read to him. He loves hearing each story told in a certain cadence. He asks questions about the words he hears and the pictures he sees.

For a while, I tried to teach him basic reading as we went, sounding out the letters of simple words like “dog” as we read. He was not into it. He would just like to be read to, thank you very much.

He tells fantastic stories to himself as he plays, and he tries to tell us about his imaginary party house we have yet to see.

A couple months ago, I was worried that he would be slow to pick up reading on his own. After talking about it with my wife, I realized that was a premature idea.

For one, he’s still too young to really grasp reading on his own, without being a prodigy. And two, my mom read too me every night before bed until I was much older than he is now. Maybe 10? And even once I started reading too myself, I read a lot of the same books over and over.

The Redwall series, various Calvin and Hobbes collections, Animorphs, probably some Roald Dahl.

I didn’t pick up The Hobbit until I was 12, and I didn’t expand my reading list much beyond what was assigned to me in school until I was in college.

I was a late bloomer as a reader. And the four-year-old might be, too.

I’m cool with that. It may just give me more time to read with him. And the chance to share some of the novels I loved as a kid.

He loves stories. He loves hearing them told, and he loves telling them, even to himself. I’m just here to listen.

Steve D

March Write Day: Rough Pass

So March is here, and I’m feeling pretty meh about it at the moment. If I had to use one word to describe my February with respect to my goals for the month, I would go with… distracted. I just didn’t give much thought to any of my goals during the month, and it’s not for lack of trying. I just had other things on my mind.

Our seven-month-old isn’t sleeping through the night, and we spent a good portion of February trying different bedtime strategies to nudge him in that direction. The closest we’ve gotten is him sleeping in his crib for a couple hours, then one of us bringing him into our bed when he wakes up for his midnight comfort snack. Now, we’ve just accepted that he’s a particularly cuddly kid, unlike the toddler.

My computer has also been BSOD’ing on me with such regularity that I compulsively save my work every sentence or so. Dear Micrsoft, please fix the REFERENCE_BY_POINTER error, or at least give me some more guidance other than “update drivers”. This computer is probably not even two years old and I’m already contemplating a replacement.

Anyway. Neither of those things are crises, but they’ve taken up my head space recently.

Last Month’s Goals

  1. Write 11,000 words.
  2. Read three books.
  3. Continue the slow climb to a decent exercise routine.

Let’s get this over with.

Write 11,000 words?

Holy crap, no. I didn’t even get close. I could try to blame the extended time we spent in the mountains this month, but that’s not even accurate. Look at this:

Look at that! That’s nine days in the middle of the month where I didn’t write squat. That’s terrible. And I can’t even tell you what I was doing during that stretch. It wasn’t catching up on shows or reading. The second stretch is mostly when we took an extra long weekend in the mountains. I worked mornings for a few days which meant I didn’t want to be on the computer much extra time.

Ugh. Moving on.

Read 3 books?

Technically, yes. Two of those three were one-hour shorts on Audible, and the third was a not-as-short study on meditation to increase productivity. That’s ironic, now that I think about it. Still, I’m counting it!

And I’m into meditation as a balancing effect on the stressful mind. I just need to start up a daily practice.

Establish a decent exercise routine?

I was on a solid pace of resistance training until our little vacation, but that pretty much always happens. I definitely want to jump back into it, so that’s a positive sign.

I might also want to (gulp) start running again. I have always found running boring, but I know I’m not doing enough at the moment, and if doing a loop through my neighborhood gets me outside and moving for 20 minutes, I might just take it at this point.

Goals for March

  1. Write 10,000 words. We’re not doing a ton of traveling this month, and I have three extra days compared to February. I just need to get back on track.
  2. Read 3 books. I’ve made solid progress on Towers of Midnight, even if I’m not reading it as quickly as I had anticipated. I’m kind of savoring this book a bit, knowing it’s the second-to-last in the series. Still, I’ll probably finish it this month.
  3. Continue the exercise climb. And add a meditation practice. My goal is 2 minutes per day. I feel like I’ve talked about exercise a lot, and I just want to do it at this point.

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