US Patent #410243 - An automatic grain weigher
US Patent #410243 – An automatic grain weigher

I try to spend a lot of time in these parts talking about people who are not me – from Cooking the Books features to keeping track of who I’m reading and what I’ve loved, to talking about tools of the trade and things I’ve learned that might be useful. (not to mention a few posts that are pure rantypants handwaving.)  But one thing I’ve done for the past couple of years that feels very different is an annual numbers / accountability post. I’m weighing whether to keep posting it. I’ll still track the numbers – it’s motivating to see progress and I will never fault a writer (including myself) for finding what motivation works for them. However, I don’t know if these numbers are useful for others to see. Let me know what you think? You might also drop in the comments and tell me what keeps you going – I’d love to hear about it.

This year’s big number is 410,243, or thereabouts. There’s still a day left.

  • 410243 is prime. This delights me.
  • On the web, #410243 is a lovely eggplant, or aubergine color.
  • US Patent 410243 is for an automatic grain weigher.
  • 410,243 is also the number of words I wrote in 2014, minus those I’ll write tomorrow. It includes all of Cloudbound, the sequel to Updraft; revisions to Updraft; revisions to another novel; revisions and several short stories in draft form, plus a story I wrote and published this year, “Welcome Briefing at the Obayashi-Ragan Youth Hostel.
  • It includes “How to Walk Through Historic Graveyards in the Digital Age,” which will appear in the March/April issue of Asimov’s, and revisions to “The Ghost Tide Chanty,” which will appear at Tor.com.
  • 410,243 does not include: twelve (out of fourteen total) Cooking the Books episodes, other blog posts here, an essay on staying ahead of technology as a fiction writer for SFSignal, two Mind Melds, a food of the future roundtable for Tor.com, ten articles and bookshelf write-ups for GeekMom.com, one co-written article for the Washington Post, two proposals, one game world for Storium, or my review of Eileen Gunn’s Questionable Practices for the New York Review of Science Fiction.
  • I used a friend’s wordcount tracking spreadsheet to see how my writing broke across days and months. It is infinitely useful and I’m very grateful for it. There were definitely a few thin weeks, while I was traveling. I’m hoping to get better about working on the road. 410,243 words breaks out to 7,890 a week, average, and 1,124 a day, but there were days and weeks when I wrote more, and less.
  • I like what I wrote for last year’s number post. I’m keeping it for this year:

Last year, my goal was to write more, better words. This year, I’m sticking with the ‘better’ side of that goal. I want to write consistently, and to learn new ways to tell more powerful stories every day. I don’t need to write more words, though if that happens too, I’ll be glad for it. Consistent words. Better words. In pleasing arrangements. Goal.

  • There’s one more number that’s much different from my word count number. It’s 0765377837. It’s the ISBN number for Updraft. I like that number a lot.

So that’s me. Do numbers keep you motivated? If so, which ones?



  1. Fran, I LOVE this! It’s inspiring for me to read about this, but because I’m a visual person, I really love that you associated a color with your numbers. Please keep doing these posts – it’s motivating me to continue writing daily 🙂 Can’t wait to read “Updraft”!

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