Welcome to the January Writing Report, dear readers! I’m quite pleased with how things turned out this past month. I wrote a total of 23,322 words during the month of January, which works out to an average of 752 words per day. Considering that my goal is to average 700 words per day this year, I’m very pleased. I’m actually surprised I did that well because I missed 13 days of writing. I don’t feel too bad about that because most of those days were right before I took my certification exam, which I passed.
I worked on two projects in January: my novel that is turning out to be epically long (which never happens to me, so maybe this is a good thing) and an outline for my next book series. Hopefully these books will garner me a book deal one of these days. 🙂 I read somewhere that fantasy author Brandon Sanderson wrote thirteen books before he sold any work. (And they didn’t even buy the thirteenth book first. They bought the sixth, which is super random.) I do hope to send out some queries this year, but only if I have a completed and edited manuscript. And yes, I know that I could, in theory, devote more time to the current manuscript if I weren’t outlining at the same time. I actually think this dual method is helping me, though. Sometimes I don’t have the mental energy to write more than a certain number of words for a project, but I still have energy to write. Channeling this energy into a different project has been working out well. I’m not sure I could juggle more than two projects, but two seems to be a good number.
Dear readers, look what arrived in the mail for me last week.
In English, the title is Kolchak: Supreme Leader of Russia by Pavel Ziryanov. Yes, I ordered this online and about a week later, it arrived. It actually didn’t come directly from Russia. The seller I bought it from is based in New York. I read parts of this book when I was in graduate school and had access to an excellent collection of Russian-language books at the university library. I meant to buy it but forgot until recently. Luckily, I found it online, impulsively ordered it, and here it is.
And seriously, I got it for an excellent price. Only $19.00, including shipping. I found this exact book on a Russian website and even with the exchange rate that’s favorable to America right now, it was more expensive. Plus it would have taken forever to get here and the shipping was more expensive, as the site ships internationally with a private carrier. (Because, trust me, you don’t want to entrust the Russian postal service with anything of vital importance.)
Back in the day—circa 2003—I discovered a book series by Patrick O’Brian. It is called the Aubrey-Maturin series, named after the main character, a British Navy captain in the Napoleonic era and his good friend, the ship’s doctor. I first became aware of said series after seeing an excellent movie based on these novels. The movie is Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World and if you haven’t seen it, I urge you to do so. It’s so much better than the drivel they pass off as movies nowadays (but that is a subject for another blog post).
Anyway, I spent about two years reading all twenty of the Aubrey-Matruin novels (I never did get a chance to read the unfinished twenty-first book, sadly enough). They weren’t easy to get through, as the writing can be dense and confusing, but I persevered. By the time I finished, I was a bit tired of Patrick O’Brian’s writing style, but I had developed a lifelong love of the Napoleonic era.
Dear readers, these books are fantastic! I really love them. I’ve devoured four of them already. The one I just finished today, Commodore Hornblower, even has the advantage of taking place in Russia for most of the book, which is great. And this is the Russian Empire, which as you may know, is basically my favorite thing ever. Forester’s writing is a lot less turgid than O’Brian’s, which makes the whole experience a lot more enjoyable. I like the character development and all the nautical descriptions and historical delights and all the other goodies present in this series. Seriously, these books are great fun to read.
After I schedule this post to be published, I think I’m going to go start on the next book in the series. See you in a little while—I’ll be traveling at sea (vicariously) as I read!
A couple of other bloggers I read, K.M. Weiland and Kiera, wrote posts about the best books they read in 2016. Usually, by the end of the year, I forget which books I read that year, but thanks to Goodreads, this is no longer the case. 2016 was the second year I tracked my reading on that website. This year, there’s even a convenient little page that sums up all of one’s reading.
I read a lot in 2016—126 books to be exact. It was actually fewer than 126 because some of those were short stories that tied in to series I’d read. But still, even without counting those, I still read a ton of books. Here are some of my favorites.
It’s time for my last writing report of the year. It isn’t a fantastic one, I’m afraid. I wrote a total of 10,166 words in December, which is an average of 328 per day. Not that great… but better than December of last year, according to my records.
For the entire year of 2016, I wrote 185,950 words in all, which is an average of 508 per day. I guess that isn’t too bad, especially considering I missed a lot of days. I did a lot of outlining by hand this year, so those words aren’t recorded, as it’s quite tedious to do accurate word counts for handwritten papers. Still, I wrote over 222,000 words in 2015, so I’m a bit disappointed my word count went down instead of up.
Like I said, I did “lose” (it’s not truly a loss, as outlining is essential to my writing process) time by writing an extensive outline back in October. I’m trying a new method where I outline for a little bit each day after doing my regular writing so that I won’t have all this downtime. I’m not sure how well it’ll work out, but we’ll see.
Yes, I know, I had another semi-unplanned blogging absence. Two things happened: I got lost in some reading (what else is new?!) and my best friend came to visit last weekend. We had a lovely time together, though I wish she could have stayed longer. We ate out at some restaurants and then she spent the night at my place, which reminded me of the sleepovers we had when we were younger.
As for reading, I’ve been immersed in many, many books. It’s actually sort of ridiculous: I’ve read, according to Goodreads, over a hundred books this year. And while that is kind of awesome, it’s also putting a big damper on my writing. At this time last year, I had written many more words than I have this year. I’m going to try to slow down my reading in English, read more books in Russian, and spend some more time writing. I also have a certification exam to study for, so there’s that to deal with too…
Sometimes I wish I could take a month-long sabbatical from work so I could catch up on other aspects of my life. Like blog writing, writing, violin, and this certification exam that is hanging over my head. Unfortunately, I don’t think everyone at work would approve of my idea, so I’ll just have to keep trying to stuff everything in and hope that I manage.
There is one way to forcibly stuff writing in, now that I think about it: NaNoWriMo. Remember how I participated back in 2013? (When I was in grad school! I must have been crazy! A part of me still can’t believe I did that.) Well, my writing schedule has aligned (through luck, not through my own doing) so that in theory, I could do NaNo this year. Whether I want to put myself through the punishing schedule that NaNo entails, I am not sure… I will have to think about it further as I outline my next writing project.
Remember when I wrote about Orson Scott Card’s next book, titled The Swarm? Well, it came out in the beginning of August. I was on a mini-vacation, so I didn’t get a chance to snatch it from the library. Luckily, I remembered it last week and the library branch near work had a copy, so I went during lunch to check it out. You guys, it is amazing. Seriously. Though I would like to say that even though it’s marketed as the first in a trilogy, you really need to read the three prior books to fully understand it. I’m not sure why these six books (four of which are published now) are divided into two trilogies. Maybe that’s the way the contract for the author is written, or maybe he sold the first trilogy before the second. Whatever the reason, they’re not really two trilogies but rather one sextet (I think that’s the right word) of books. Trust me, read the first three before tackling The Swarm.
That being said, it’s nice to return to these characters in The Swarm. I remember them from the prior trilogy and avid readers will understand what I mean when I say they’re like old friends. I think my favorite character is a lady named Imala, an auditor. If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past couple of years, it’s that 1) most people don’t even know auditors exist, and 2) auditors never get any glory, ever. In these books, though, this auditor is instrumental in saving the entire planet, and that’s just plain awesome.