Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Year of the Pen

    Since it’s the end of the year, it seems like a good time to do some inventory. I’ve already compiled the stats on my reading in 2011. Now I’m looking at my writing.
    I use a spreadsheet to track my word-count. I’ve already explained my love of spreadsheets, so I won’t go into it again. But I am particularly proud of my word count/calendar spreadsheet.
    Since January 2011, I have written 100,769 words. The best month was July, with 29,114 words (I had two weeks off work and no vacation plans). The next highest was November, when I was participating in NaNoWriMo, and racked up 15,749 words. The worst month was January, when I didn’t write a single word (or at least, didn’t log any). I also haven’t logged anything in December, but have been thinking about my stories nearly nonstop and will probably get some writing in this week before I return to work.
    This translates into a monthly average of approximately 8,400 words. Broken down even more, I wrote an average of 1,900 each week. The highest daily total in 2012 was in July, when I wrote 8,542 words. If I recall correctly, that included a middle-of-the-night burst of creativity and a trip to my favorite coffee shop later in the day. During NaNoWriMo, my highest daily total was 3,602 words.
    I’m happy to see the six-digit total on my word count. But the results in the real world are less encouraging, at least to me. I am brilliant at starting books. Finishing? Not so much. I did track how many words were written per project, and boy howdy, do I have a lot of unfinished projects.
    The project that I spent most of my time on was a romantic suspense novel that I’m still working on. I added about 56,500 to that one. Then I wrote 21,400 on a story that came out of nowhere and smacked me about the brain until I got out of bed and wrote down the idea. I think it’s going to turn into a trilogy of novellas, and I did write about 3,000 words on the final story.
    I wrote 15,749 on the Nano project. I also wrote about 4,500 words on an old project that I technically had finished, but it was an early work and needs a lot of editing. And an entirely new ending. And well, just a lot of work. I also added a few hundred words here and there on other projects that may or may not ever get finished.
    So, next on my list is to formulate some goals for 2012. You can bet one of them will be to finish something.

    Update:  I got a few more days of writing in, so my final word-count tally for 2011 is 105,986. This changed my monthly and weekly averages to 8,832/month and 2,038/week. See, this is why I love spreadsheets.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry, Merry

An old family recipe for the holidays. It's not Christmas until there are mugs of Tom & Jerry being passed around.

Tom & Jerry Batter
2 16-oz packages superfine sugar
4 eggs
2 tsps each:  cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice
Separate eggs, beat whites until stiff as you can get them. Beat eggs yolks in with the whites, then gradually add 2 packages of sugar. Add spices all at once. Store in airtight container in refrigerator. If spices separate after being stored, just beat again.

To Mix a Tom & Jerry
Mix a heaping teaspoon of batter into a cup of hot milk, add bourbon. Stir. Hand your keys to someone else.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Blur of Bright Lights and Cookies

Where have I been?
Well, same as you I expect:  shopping, baking, wrapping, delivering packages, decorating, writing cards, making lists, checking twice, panicking about shipping deadlines, attending holiday parties, throwing holiday parties, cleaning up lots of sticky Tom & Jerry mugs, photographing the neighbor's over-the-top light display, making travel plans, more baking, eating, eating, eating, more shopping.

Oh, and dog-sitting.

And working, for a couple more days. After that, I'll be adding skiing (snow gods permitting). I will be back after Christmas. Until then, have a wonderful holiday season.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

2011 in Books

    For the last two years, I’ve been keeping track of the books I read in a spreadsheet. Also in the last two years, I’ve discovered that I adore spreadsheets. They bring a tiny bit of order to my chaotic life. Anyway, the books. Since it’s nearing the end of the year, I thought I should look at how many books and what type and my comments on them. I don’t plan on posting reviews, but I do take notes for myself in my spreadsheet.
     In 2011, I have read (or started) 47 books. Of these, eight were nonfiction. Six were audiobooks, 13 were paper books and 28 were on my Kindle.
     In 2010, the first year I started getting all statistical about my reading, I also listened to six audiobooks. Only four of the 49 books I read that year were actual paper books. Only four were nonfiction.     
    Here’s a few of the highpoints in my 2011 reading list:
    Three of these — The Informationist, A Field of Darkness, and The Restorer were the first books in planned series. This is great news, because who doesn’t like to hear that there’s more good reading coming soon. But in the case of The Restorer, a little frustrating because it’s a trilogy and the book left a lot of questions unanswered and also because I didn’t realize until I was very near the end that the story couldn’t possibly be wrapped up in the next few pages. Still, it was good to find three more authors whose work I am now avidly following.     
    The other thing that jumps out at me as I look over the list is that I really need to stop saying that I don’t like first-person narration. This is clearly a lie, as three of my four favorites were first person, as were many of the books I read this year. I also read a whole lot of romance last year, and even most of the mysteries and suspense had romantic elements.
     One entry I haven't put on my spreadsheet is the price of the books I've read. I may start tracking that next year, though I wonder if I really want to know how much I spend on books in a year. I am rethinking my Audible subscription because I'm obviously not listening to 12 audiobooks a year. It might be time to take a break and listen to all the ones I've bought in the last two years.
     There are still a few dozen books on my to-be-read pile and I may add a few stats to this year's total before the end of the year. And I've already got several books queued up for next year that I'm dying to start (including Karen Moning's Darkfever, which has been recommended to me by so many people lately that I just had to buy it, despite my self-imposed book-buying ban).
     So that was my literary year. What was yours like?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pencils Down

    Congratulations to all the Nano writers who hit their goals -- whether that was 50,000 words or not! I'm very happy to have participated this year, even though I was on a truncated schedule due to work commitments. And then there was the Thanksgiving holiday. (Really, Mr. Baty, why November?)
    In past years, I've started Nano, only to lose steam within two weeks. For me, the difference this year was the planning. I started an outline early and completed it (for the most part) before I started writing. When I wrote, I just grabbed the next scene on my list and wrote and didn't worry about whether it was any good or if I should shuffle the scenes around. If I had doubts, I just wrote myself a note for the revision process. I realized that I will probably need to add some characters so I can kill some of them off, but I didn't stop to create new backgrounds for those unfortunate souls.
    The result is 15,749 words toward a new WIP, plus an outline that I can continue to work from. It's far from the finish line, but I'm absolutely thrilled with what I managed to accomplish.
    Though, seriously. Why not March or April? There's not much going on then.