By the Numbers

The writing project I am currently working on, for a variety of reasons, has been a task of fits and starts. But we will get there.

Yesterday I came home early to an empty house. My first inclination was to kick back and watch TV or get back into my game of Skyrim on my computer or continue reading Caliban’s War, the second book in the Expanse series, which comes back to SyFy this coming week. But then I had this flash of inspiration: maybe I should work on my book….

Several hours later, I was finishing up the 13th Chapter of Tesla’s Ghost. One hundred and eighty pages in, this has been a frustrating and educational experience. Like I said, I am getting there. I told my fellow author and partner-in-crime Celeste Walker the other day that I often feel that I want to finish the first draft, then blow it up and completely start over again. It’s not that it’s a bad book. Like all of the books that I work on, I feel it has the potential to be one of my best. But as I read the other day, “You never learn how to write a novel. You learn how to write the novel you are working on.” That’s where I am. Learning.

But I was thrilled to finish Chapter #13 yesterday and pleased to finish 180 pages. That got me thinking about numbers and how much we depend on them and how they can make us feel good or bad every day.

For example: this blog: I’ve been writing it since July, 2009. My largest category of writing is Writing with 89 entries, followed by Book Review with 86 entries, and Science Fiction with 85 entries. Since that time, I’ve posted 823 times and collected 976 followers. At the same time, on Twitter, I have 24,883 followers. On this blog, I’ve collected 519 comments (although not all today).

Not all numbers are good, though. I used to be a faithful visitor to to watch the line chart showing how my sales were doing on Amazon. That will drive you crazy. Because it’s not just a matter of how well your book is doing, but also what else is going on in the market. So I stopped doing that, and just wait for the occasional check to come my way.

Even though numbers can be helpful, they can be distracting as well. So don’t get caught up in them when you’re trying to get things done. Remember, they are like any tool. They can be used for good or bad. And finally, don’t make the mistake of turning your readers into numbers. They aren’t. They are flesh and blood, and when you forget that, they will begin forgetting you.

Until your number is up.