The Herb Witch Tales – A Work in Progress Update

It has been quite some time since I’ve spoken in any detail about my current works-in-progress on the story front. Part of the reason is likely that I’ve been preoccupied with other things in life over the past couple of months. Between travel, work, family time, and the most socialization I’ve had since the pandemic, I’ve been pretty busy.

And yet, here I have these two stories, nearing completion of their second drafts.

The Herb Witch Tales parts 1 and 2

For longer than I’d like to admit, I’ve been working on a two-part novel. Really, it’s two novellas that I will publish separately in ebook and together in one hardcopy volume. The reasoning there has more to do with marketing than anything else — people are more likely to read an ebook if it’s not too much of a commitment. It will also cost less to publish 90,000 words as one volume versus two separate volumes of 45,000 words each.

In any case, that’s what I’ve been aiming for.

Uprooted, The Herb Witch Tales #1 has been sitting in its third draft form for a few months at 48,000 words. I rewrote it mostly from scratch earlier this year, so it definitely needs some fine-tuning.

New Earth, The Herb Witch Tales #2 is in its second draft at 41,000 words. Achieving my word count goal for June would put me just shy of 50,000 words for this one. It also needs a healthy dose of fine-tuning.

So in the near future I’ll have two novellas just under 50k words each, and I’ll have a few large wrinkles to work out:

  • Add some more description to individual characters. I left out a lot of physical descriptions – quite unlike me – to expedite the writing process, but I recognize now that it makes some characters more difficult to distinguish, and now it may be difficult for me to go back and add those details in without sounding out of place in the narrative.
  • Ensure that specific details – like the style of dress for my characters’ culture – are referred to consistently.
  • Pacing. My overhaul of part 1 caused a similar overhaul of part 2, so I need to make sure their plots make sense independently of each other. If someone were to read only part 1, would the story and ending make sense to them without reading part 2?

I have a lot of work cut out for myself for these stories, but I’m pleased at how close I am to finishing the drafting process. From here, it will be revisions of each story individually and of the 1+2 volume in total.

Next, Next Steps

It’s been difficult for me not to think about my next full-length novel. The Warden of Everfeld: Legacy will be the sequel to my first (and so far, only) published novel, The Warden of Everfeld: Memento. I had written about 60,000 words of a first draft a couple years ago before shifting focus to what I had hoped would be a much quicker writing process for The Herb Witch Tales.

Turns out I can’t write and publish a full-length story every year. Oh well. I am definitely excited to return to Legacy and my favorite character I’ve created. But I want to finish what’s in front of me first.

So, my medium-term goal, say, through the end of this year, is to get The Herb Witch Tales #1 and #2 into a publishable state. Not to publish them, mind you. I just want to have polished drafts that I can consider publishing in the longer term, perhaps once I’ve really picked up and made new progress on Legacy.

We’ll see. I’m excited, and also just enjoying the grind, for once.

Steve D

February Write Day: The Climb

January was a long month. I don’t know that is was particularly fast or slow, but I definitely don’t remember the first half. We spent those couple weeks mostly traveling and recovering from the holidays. The last two weeks have been much quieter, in a good way.

February is promising more on the quieter front, which I’m okay with, too.

Last Month’s Goals

  1. Write 9,000 words.
  2. Read 3 books.
  3. Start working out again.

Write 9,000 words?

No, but I got my days mixed up! For some reason I thought Monday, January 31 was actually February 1, so I took the day off from writing. How embarrassing.

I wrote 8,616 words in January, so if I had sat down Monday evening, I could have easily beaten my goal. Ugh. Oh well. I did manage to finish the month on a surge after not writing much for the first week or so, so that’s good news for my February writing goal.

Check out my progress on my NaNoWriMo goal tracker. You can see I only had two writing sessions in the first half of the month, but I still managed to nearly catch up with several sessions of 500+ words. I felt like I hit a rhythm, too, so it became easier to write larger chunks at a time. Maintaining that rhythm is the key.

Read three books?

I read two books in January, but one of them was a fairly dense historical audiobook about the Ancient Celts, so I’m okay with it.

I had started reading Towers of Midnight, book 13 of The Wheel of Time, but fell off for some reason. I am definitely still reading the book, but for whatever reason, I found it easier to do audiobooks in January.

Start working out again?

Kind of, but I don’t really feel like I have a routine yet. I have a plan in my head for more consistent exercise, but it includes cleaning out the garage and buying some boxing equipment. Really, I just need a free weekend. And to buy the equipment, of course.

I’m still into yoga, but I haven’t been doing it as much, or only in shorter sessions to stretch out. And simple resistance workouts are easy enough to fit into my days. Boxing was always a great workout for me, and I definitely need to find something aerobic again, so I’m on the lookout for a double-end bag.

Goals for February

  1. Write 11,000 words. I ended up with a solid writing pace towards the end of January. I just need to start February stronger and try to write more consistently.
  2. Read three books. I am reading The Last Kingdom… again… sort of. Turns out I unwittingly listened to the abridged version on Audible, which is less than half the length of the unabridged version. I’m not going to get into it, but I’m not happy that I spent money on a watered-down version of a story. I enjoyed the abridged version, but now I’m listening to the unabridged version. I’m not currently tracking this reading on Goodreads, but maybe I should. I don’t know. I do really like this book, though, so there’s that.
  3. Continue the slow climb to a decent exercise routine. That’s what this feels like now. I’ve been out of a decent routine for so long that I’m really starting over at this point. This month, I want to create a space where I can workout in my garage, and continue doing yoga and resistance exercises more consistently.

Steve D

January Write Day: Keep Plugging Away

Man, another month, another year. December was a solid month. Our holidays were festive with plenty of time spent with family. We also got to experience our first real Christmas through our oldest son, who is three and at the perfect age to get excited for Santa and presents and Christmas lights and all that.

It was a decent month on the goals front as well.

Last Month’s Goals

  1. Write 8,000 words for New Earth.
  2. Read through Uprooted.
  3. Read 3 books.

So how did I do?

Write 8,000 words?

Not quite. I tried to cram a bunch of writing into the final week of the month and came up short at just over 7,000 words. Still a decent output, overall. The first half of December had me stressing a bit about getting everything ready for our holiday celebrations, which knowingly kept me away from writing. I thought I could make up for it in the final week, but no such luck.

I still did all right, though.

New Earth, The Herb Witch Tales #2 is progressing nicely at around 15,000 words, and I’ve hit a stretch where I already have a lot of content from my first draft I can pull from. That should help me stay on track and catch up a bit this month. I just want to get off to a stronger start and not fall behind again.

I did start to find a writing schedule again, slotting in time right after putting my oldest to bed, and then knuckling down on the weekends for bigger word count gains.

Read through Uprooted?

I seriously forgot about this goal. December was a busy month! I definitely want to complete this read-through, so perhaps I’ll have to pay to print it out — all 70-some pages of it – so I can focus on it when I’m away from my computer.

Read 3 books?

I’m going to say yes…? But let me check my Goodreads first.

Success! I finished three books in December, including book 12 of The Wheel of Time series, The Gathering Storm. Look out for that review next week. Spoiler alert: I loved it.

I also achieved my Goodreads 2021 goal of reading 24 books. That may sound paltry based on a lot of the book blogs I read, but that’s a lot for me, damn it! I’m aiming for 26 in 2022.

Goals for January

I feel like I rushed through this post, but this might be a good indication of where my head is at currently. I have a lot I want to achieve in the next few months, primarily finishing a solid draft of New Earth, and I just want to get down to it.

  1. Write 9,000 words. This feels achievable to me based on my writing progress the last two weeks, and it may be the start of escalating writing goals to start the year off. We’ll see how it goes.
  2. Read 3 books. Currently waiting for my copy of Towers of Midnight to arrive 😀
  3. Start working out again. My exercise routine really fell through the last couple months, so I want to get back on track. This is an open-ended goal for now until I can establish a decent routine again.

Happy New Year!

Steve D

December Write Day: Rounding Out

Ah, the optimism of the pre-holiday season, doomed to be crushed under the weight of festive preparations. November was such a weird month, but not really because of the holidays, like at all.

I mentioned in my post two weeks ago that I had a rough bout with some kind of illness around the middle of the month. Well, just a week later, our toddler caught hand foot and mouth disease, which is basically a beefed up cold with a rash. The boys were both home the entire week leading up to Thanksgiving, and I took a day off work to stay home with them. We flipped our Thanksgiving plans around and were basically on constant guard for any sign of the virus in our 3-month-old, or ourselves. Somehow, we have as yet escaped unscathed, and the toddler is just about healed.

So, yeah, November was a weird month. As you might imagine, my NaNoWriMo progress was greatly interrupted by these happenings.

Last Month’s Goals

  1. Complete NaNoWriMo! This 50,000-word challenge is the perfect opportunity for me to rewrite New Earth, The Herb Witch Tales #2. I’m aiming for about 45k words for this story, to keep it in line with Uprooted, so as long as I finish the story, I’ll call this a success.
  2. Keep reading through Uprooted. This is a stretch goal for me. I don’t want to be too distracted from NaNoWriMo, but reading through my first story could help me be productive when I hit a block on New Earth.
  3. Keep reading in general. While I’m not committing to reading a certain amount this month, I’d like to read something other than my own work. Again, this can serve as a bit of a mental break from writing/revising when I need it, and that’s just as important as the writing itself.

Complete NaNoWriMo?

Not even close. I started out slowly and fell behind within the first few days, but at the midway point I thought I could at least hit 15,000 words or so and get a good head start on New Earth, The Herb Witch Tales #2.

I wrote 8,500 words total in November, and almost nothing during the final week. Oh well. 8k is a solid total any other month, so I’m glad I at least hit my average.

I like where New Earth is going, as well. It started out slowly because I realized I needed a bit more set-up at the start, and the plot is changing more than I had anticipated. Still, it’s given me an opportunity to rethink how this story fits in with part 1. Speaking of which…

Keep reading through Uprooted?

Not really. I was hyper-focused on writing during the first part of the month, and then the wheels fell off during the second part. This will be one of my goals this month, when I’ll have some real time off around the holidays.

Keep reading in general?

Yes! I happened to finish two books in November, one of which I’ve already reviewed. I’ll likely review the other one next week.

I’ve gotten my hands on The Gathering Storm, book 12 of The Wheel of Time, and I’m already excited for it. Barely a chapter in, this book carries the weight of an epic finale on its shoulders. It’s also the first book in this series co-authored by Brandon Sanderson after Robert Jordan’s death. Sanderson’s writing style is definitely different from Jordan’s, but what I’ve seen of the main characters so far, he stays true to their spirits. I’ll have a tough time putting this one down.

Goals for December

  1. Write 8,000 words for New Earth. This feels like a small goal, but we’re quickly approaching the holidays, and I’m still trying to figure out my writing schedule now that I’m picking up the boys from daycare in the afternoons. I think I’m starting to get the hang of it, but this month will hopefully be a bit more normal than last month.
  2. Read through Uprooted. This is no longer a stretch goal. I need to spend some quality time with this draft before I forget everything about it. I want to allow myself to be more multi-faceted in my writing projects. In the absence of writing for NaNoWriMo last month, I managed to take some quality notes for other projects I’ve been mulling over for some time. It felt good to make progress on something, even if it wasn’t on my primary thing, so I want to be more flexible when the mood to think about something else strikes me.
  3. Read 3 books. At least one of these will be The Gathering Storm. I was stuck on a couple of longer reads through October and November, so I want to finish out my Goodreads goal strong. I’ve read 21 of 24 books so far, and I’m well within range of achieving that goal.

Steve D

NaNoWriMo Progress: Halfway Point

Every year, I seem to forget that by the time we get halfway through November, it’s a week before Thanksgiving, and the month is effectively over. National Novel Writing Month started off pretty well for me, and then took a nose-dive. I will be revising my goal for this month at the end.

While I wasn’t churning out 2,000 words per day, I was making solid progress on my draft of New Earth, The Herb Witch Tales #2 for the first ten days or so of the month. I saw early on that the 50,000-word pinnacle was slipping from my grasp even as I continued writing, but I didn’t let that discourage me. I was still writing every day, sometimes multiple times per day.

Then, two things derailed me simultaneously:

  1. My writing schedule got thrown off
  2. and I got sick

No writing schedule?!

Up until this month, I had been pretty diligent about logging off from my work laptop (working from home) and logging on to my home computer to write for short sessions in the evenings. This worked well, because my wife would pick up our toddler from daycare and start getting dinner ready while I had 20-30 minutes to write before spending the evening with them.

Then, our youngest son, the three-month-old, started daycare, and we flipped our schedules. Because my work schedule tends to be top-heavy with meetings each morning, we agreed that I would pick the kids up from daycare. It didn’t occur to me that this would erase that precious, if short, writing session I could lean on at the end of my work day.

Now, I logoff from work and pretty much immediately have to run out to get the kids.

I try to write at night after dinner, with some success, but I’ll need to find a new way to carve out time from my day. I’m considering writing early in the morning before I logon to work…

…but early mornings have never been easy for me.

The sickness

I caught a stomach bug over the weekend from my toddler that sapped my energy and basically took away 3.5 days of writing time. I’m still recovering, although doing much better.

It’s completely out of my own or anyone else’s control, but it was frustrating to lose a weekend to being sick — not just because of writing. I missed a family birthday celebration and basically didn’t move for three days.

NaNoWriMo the Second Half

So, here I am just over halfway through the month having written 7,000 words. There is no way I’m hitting 50,000 at this point, and I had accepted that even before I got sick. 7,000 would still rank in the top half of my monthly word count totals for this year, so it’s definitely not nothing.

However, I still want to finish strong. With Thanksgiving being my favorite holiday of feasting and family, I’m not going to have the pressure of writing over that weekend hanging over me. So I’m already cutting four more days of writing time in favor of other priorities.

That gives me about 10 days to eke out a writing schedule and make some more progress on this story.

Revised NaNo Goal: 15,000 words total

NaNo Stretch Goal: 20,000 words total

It’s always good to have a realistic goal and a stretch goal, just to motivate a bit more, so there it is. 15k feels doable to me, and if I’m really disciplined, 20k might be, too.

Steve D

November Write Day: National Novel Writing Month 2021!

October came and went, but it felt like a lot happened. I returned to work after vacation, attended a work summit for the first time in two years, and did a lot of reading. Now, I’m taking an extra bit of time off to spend with the three-month-old before he starts daycare. Oh yeah, our new baby is three months old this week. Having two kids still feels very new to me. Maybe taking them both to daycare together will normalize it a bit more. In any case, the baby is awesome, and I’m thoroughly enjoying my extra few days of being a stay-at-home dad.

Last Month’s Goals

  1. Finish current draft of Uprooted.
  2. Read through Uprooted and takes note.
  3. Prepare for National Novel Writing Month.

Let’s discuss

Finish current draft of Uprooted?

Success! My writing goal for October was to complete the second draft of Uprooted, The Herb Witch Tales #1, and I wanted to do it as quickly as possible. I set a writing goal for 3,000 words by October 14. I wrote 3,800 words and completed my draft at a total of about 46,000.

That’s a fair bit longer than I had originally intended for this story to be, but I think it’s the right length. I feel good about where this story is at right now. It will need some further revisions, but no more rewrites, and that’s exciting.

Read through Uprooted?

Not quite. I didn’t print out my draft as originally planned. Instead, I just started reading and making edits directly in Word. I just didn’t have quite the motivation to do so as I thought I would. Each time I sat down at my computer to read, I found myself getting bored or distracted. Not bored of my story–just bored of reading a long document on my computer. It’s not the best way to revise a story, but I also know that I just need to do a first pass on it before diving a little deeper and sharing it with some beta readers.

I’m still only about a third of the way through this read-through, and with National Novel Writing Month now in full swing, I’m more focused on writing again. I may have also been looking forward too much to NaNoWriMo, and not focusing on the task in front of me.

Speaking of which…

Prepare for National Novel Writing Month?

Yes, at least as far as I “prepare” any story for writing. I have an outline of ten chapters with a 1-2 sentence summary and a few detailed notes for each. For the latter half of the story, my chapter notes tend to be questions that I will need to consider in order for the plot to advance in the way I intend.

This is a really bare-bones outline compared to what some writers do (where my NaNoWriMo Planners at?), but it’s just a guide for me. My stories tend to unfold more naturally as I write them. That’s just my style.

I can already tell you that the first two days of NaNoWriMo have been slow for me, writing-wise. I’m finding it difficult to write the opening section of the story. Fortunately, I have some content I can fill for the middle part of the story. I just need to get past the introduction.

Goals for November

  1. Complete NaNoWriMo! This 50,000-word challenge is the perfect opportunity for me to rewrite New Earth, The Herb Witch Tales #2. I’m aiming for about 45k words for this story, to keep it in line with Uprooted, so as long as I finish the story, I’ll call this a success.
  2. Keep reading through Uprooted. This is a stretch goal for me. I don’t want to be too distracted from NaNoWriMo, but reading through my first story could help me be productive when I hit a block on New Earth.
  3. Keep reading in general. While I’m not committing to reading a certain amount this month, I’d like to read something other than my own work. Again, this can serve as a bit of a mental break from writing/revising when I need it, and that’s just as important as the writing itself.

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

October Write Day: Shifting Gears

September was a bit of a crazy month. Between work picking up a lot and a week-long beach trip, I found little time for writing. I knew I wasn’t going to write while at the beach–not with a toddler and an infant to entertain. We had a nice time, though, and I wasn’t ready to get back to normal life.

September was fun, but goals-wise, maybe my worst month on record? Let’s get this over with.

Last Month’s Goals

  1. Finish current draft of Uprooted and write 5,000 words.
  2. Read through Uprooted.
  3. Read 4 books.

Finish current draft / write 5,000 words?

Neither. I wrote 2,500 words in September, and a good chunk of that came in the last two days of the month, after we had returned from vacation and settled back into our daily routine. That also was not enough to finish my draft. Based on progress I’ve made so far in October, I think this draft of Uprooted will finish around 48,000 words, which places this firmly in novella territory.

I’ll talk about this in my actual goals for the month, but I’m trying to finish this draft as quickly as possible so I can do some read-throughs before November. I don’t anticipate any large-scale revisions from this point. I definitely want my editor and maybe some readers to read the story and provide feedback, but at this point, I like how this story ended up. I just want to tighten it up.

Before I get there, though, I need to write the second draft of New Earth, my second story in The Herb Witch Tales. More on that below.

Read through Uprooted?

Obviously not, since I still have to finish the thing.

Read four books?

I finished three books in September, which is actually better than I thought, but they were all audiobooks. I now have two nonfiction books that I’ve started and not been motivated to continue on any consistent basis, even though I find both interesting.

So I started reading Knife of Dreams, book 11 of The Wheel of Time. I’m more than halfway through already, and I may jump straight into the next one. This installment already feels more weighty, plot-wise, than the middle books of the series, and I know that book 12 begins the home stretch of Brandon Sanderson’s work on the series. I also got excited thinking about the upcoming Wheel of Time TV series.

In short, I’m pretty locked into this series at the moment.

Goals for October

  1. Finish current draft of Uprooted. As mentioned above, I have to finish this draft this month. I can’t publish these stories by the end of this year without basically a miracle, but I still have to move to the next step.
  2. Read through Uprooted and takes note. I’m giving myself the first two weeks or so of the month to finish my draft, whereupon I will print it and begin to mark it up with red pen. This should help me see what needs to be done to the story at large before moving on. If I have time before the end of the month, I’ll start to make revisions–not rewrites, mind you. I think this story has moved past the need for rewrites. Once I’ve done that, I will pass it on to at least one reader to look at for me. I have someone in mind, but let me know if you’re interested.
  3. Prepare for National Novel Writing Month. Once I complete the read-through/revisions of Uprooted, I intend to move on to my second draft of New Earth, the second story in The Herb Witch Tales. Between unused sections of Uprooted and the rough draft I wrote of New Earth earlier this year, I probably have 30,000 words worth of content to use. It’s time to get this story into gear, and NaNoWriMo will be the perfect time to do it.

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

August Write Day: Turning the Corner

July was a solid month, writing and otherwise. I had a lofty goal, but I also had a plan to meet it. That plan went… alright. There were some bumps in the writing road, but I met my goal for the second month in a row!

And I made some crucial progress on my story, both in the actual writing and in figuring out where it’s headed as I plunge into the third act.

Let’s get to the goals already!

Last Month’s Goals

  1. Write 10,000 words.
  2. Read 3 books.
  3. Enjoy parental leave.

Write 10,000 words?!

YES! I wrote 10,054 words in July, in fact. How did I do it, you ask?! With a pretty hefty push in the final week of the month.

The middle two weeks or so did not go well for me, writing-wise. I fell behind and struggled to keep up, and then to catch up. Our toddler hit a new phase in July where he’d get home from daycare with my wife and pretty quickly throw an ear-shattering tantrum over basically nothing. It’s clear that these tantrums were (and are) because he’s hungry, but somehow the toddler will not listen to reason and sit down to eat a single bite of food. Weird, right? Who knew that toddlers were completely irrational gremlins.

So, I’d hear the tantrum start as I was finishing up work upstairs, and instead of staying upstairs to write as has become my routine, I more often went down to morally support my wife and emotionally support our meltdown-having son. That’s honestly the reason I didn’t get much writing done for the middle part of the month.

HOWEVER…

I still hit my goal.

There’s my progress chart from NaNoWriMo. You can see I started to fall behind almost immediately, but the wheels really came off around the 12th. I just could not sit down to write each day, and even when I could, it was for a pittance of words at a time.

But, I decided to knuckle down at the end of the month and try to close out strong. Over the final five days I wrote 6,000 words. That final spike on July 31 took three writing sessions, one around 12-1am, one around midday, and one that evening.

The other great piece of this is that, even with all the writing struggles, I still wrote 17 of 31 days. That persistence throughout the month was key to me striving for that goal at the end.

Read 3 books?

Nope. I think I technically finished Return of the King on July 1, but my reading was pretty lacking. Part of that was due to my focus on writing, but I also didn’t have any books pulling me in. I had started reading a work about the importance of nature in children’s lives, a fascinating read, but not the type to really call out to me. I’ll finish that in due time.

I started listening to The Fort, the first in another series by Adrian Goldsworthy, the same author who wrote The Windolanda Saga, following the same main character. I’m nearly finished that on Audible, but that’s about it.

Enjoy paternity leave?

No, because the stubborn kid hasn’t come yet! My wife is nearing 42 weeks, and our midwife already told that if we got to this point, our options were either to induce labor or have a c-section. We’re headed to the hospital Wednesday morning (I’m writing this Tuesday night) for the planned delivery.

Unlike our first, who literally kicked his way out of the womb almost a month early, this one has no interest in facing this capitalist dystopian hell-scape wonderful world. So my paternity leave starts next week!

Goals for August

  1. Actually enjoy paternity leave. My three-week leave officially starts next Monday, and I’m really looking forward to getting to focus on time at home with the family. The toddler will stay in daycare so as not to disrupt his schedule, but I’m excited to see him interact with his new sibling.
  2. Write 8,000 words. I feel really good about this one, considering I wrote 10k in July even with some hiccups. I have no idea how this will go with an infant and, oh yeah, the toddler, but I’ve gotten a head start.
  3. Read 3 books. I don’t like how little I read in July, but that’s the trade-off sometimes. Hopefully I’ll be able to find the time during my leave.

Steve D