The State of Things: February 2017 in Review

As February comes to an end things are not where I want them to be, but that’s simply my own impatience. Most projects are right on schedule. The things that are behind all involve tasks that I haven’t done before, or haven’t mastered, so the deadlines and timetables were best guesses. 2017 is the year of gathering data and learning how long things take, so I can make better guesses in the future. This also ties into my feeling that I’m somehow behind schedule; I know that each successive project will go a little faster, take a little less time, and by the end of the year I’ll be able to accomplish everything that I’ve projected.

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The biggest risk, as I’ve stated before, is that our residence permit won’t get renewed for some reason. If we need to relocate, that will throw everything into a cocked hat, including Katie’s education. It would mean sticking a pin in the business, as I’d have to get a day job once we were back in the United States. This week I’ll make the appointment with immigration, and start gathering the things we’ll need like new passport photos (I have a beard now) and updated versions of various documents.

Total Word Count for the Month: 100133

Total Word Count Year to Date: 207491
Average Word Count per Day: 3517

I did not write as many words this month as I did in January, which can be accounted for by the fact that February is three days shorter. Extra time was spent doing research, doing graphic design work, and focusing on business-related tasks, and I was still able to maintain the numbers. My health has been a factor (see below), and it slows me down a bit, but I have been able to work around it and adapt my day-to-day work flow to meet my productivity goals while also allowing for adequate self care.

At the end of January my average word count per day was 3463. That’s increased to 3517. A reasonable daily word count goal seems to be 3500. It’s a stretch, and I have to work for it, but it allows me to get other things done during the work day while still being productive on the writing front.

If you can indulge my bragging, I would like to point out that 207k words equals two NaNoWriMos per month for two consecutive months. This is, however, my day job; other things get scheduled around my writing, not the other way around as is the case for most NaNoWriMo participants. Still, give my health and the other things on my plate, I am proud of my output.

At this level of input, I will hit half a million words for the year by the end of May, which is also the first anniversary of Dancing Lights Press.

Books Read Year to Date: 39

One of my goals for the year is to read more novels, specifically literary novels. I’m not keeping up with the latter part of that goal. When I’m brain fried, I end up reading trade paperback collections of comic books, and I’m not apologizing for that. Out of necessity, I’ve been reading business books again to help fine-tune both my long-term business plans and my day-to-day operations. A lot of my reading has been research for future writing projects. I still need to find the work/life balance that lets me quit working at a reasonable hour, so I can put my feet up and read what I want to, rather than what I have to.

Books Published Year to Date: 8

Sales continued to be slow at the start of the month, but have bounced back in the past couple of weeks. I do think that a lot of it was post-inaugural jitters, and as people start to see some hope and realize that there won’t be immediate, earth-shattering impacts to their jobs or the economy, they’re relaxing a bit. I think that activists need to continue speaking up and protesting, and that certain things should never be accepted as normal, but I don’t want to dive into politics beyond the impact it has arguably had on my business.

Podcast Episodes Released: 9

Katie and I have released 91 consecutive episodes, without ever missing a week. We are still contemplating changing the name after episode 100. Over the summer I will look into getting us up on iTunes and some other places, but for right now we’re find hosting the MP3 on Katie’s site and on YouTube. It’s a passion project that we do for fun, not something we ever plan to monetize, so we can do it our way and not worry about building audience. The one thing we will be doing, after we settle on a new title, is opening a Facebook group where people can interact with us and each other, ask questions, and give some answers to things we don’t know.

Health and Wellness

My digestive issues are back with a vengeance. Ulcers during my corporate years have did permanent damage. It’s nothing new, and nothing I can’t handle, but I’ve had to fall back on some pretty boring dietary and lifestyle changes. A lot of vegetables, low-fat, low-sugar, nothing spicy or acidic. No alcohol, but I rarely drink anyway. Nothing after 7pm, or else I’ll be awake in the middle of the night. The rough part is cutting back on coffee. I will not give up coffee, but I have scaled back and never have any on an empty stomach.

Sleep has been the big issue, and as state above it’s because of digestive issues. Not being about to sleep because of abdominal cramps, and waking up in the middle of the night with a stomach ache, makes it difficult to focus. Couple that with consuming less coffee, and I’m not able to engage in any deep work like writing in the morning. As the digestive issues resolve themselves, my sleep cycle will go back to normal, and I’ll feel better because my productivity will be back up as well.

Looking Forward: March 2017 and Beyond

Getting things in order for residence renewal is my main priority. We’ll know where things stand by the end of April, but until then we stick to the plan. My work focus is on finishing the next few big books, which will also be the first releases that aren’t digital-only; being in print should, in theory, increase revenue as well and make life a little easier all around.

Katie’s Master’s thesis and the proposal for her doctorate are both due at the end of April, so that’s her main focus right now. I have no idea when she’ll hear anything on either of those, or when she would start the Ph.D. program. It’s possible, and we’re told it’s actually probably, that as a Ph.D. student she could get a stipend, which would also help with the budget and allow me to ease up on my hectic release schedule a little bit.

As all of these things are going to happen, we’ve started to think about taking a small vacation this summer, because our residence will be renewed and we’ll have a little more income to play with. We’ll probably just rent a car and visit some places in Finland that we haven’t seen yet, but it will be a change on our routine.

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