Press "Enter" to skip to content

2021 Year in Review: CAH Writes Another 20 Novels for Dakota Free Press

That’s funny: I had the impression that I was writing less this year. My stats confirm that in 2021, I published only 1,202 posts on Dakota Free Press. That’s down from the previous six-year average of 1,411 posts per year. But when I look at the content of the posts, I find I was writing longer posts—26.5% longer than the 2015–2020 annual average—and ended up producing 20.6 novels worth of blog content, the same as my peak output year of 2018:

That’s funny: I had the impression that I was producing a few fewer blog posts this year, and my stats confirm that in 2021, I published only 1,202 posts on Dakota Free Press. That’s down from the previous six-year average of 1,411 posts per year. But when I look at the content of the posts, I find I was writing longer posts—26.5% longer by word count* than the 2015–2020 annual average—and ended up producing 20.6 novels worth of blog content, the same as my peak output year of 2018:

Year Posts Words Words per Post Novel Equivs
2015 1,283 1,160,448 904 18
2016 1,550 1,306,077 843 20.2
2017 1,533 1,285,247 838 19.9
2018 1,570 1,332,334 849 20.6
2019 1,270 1,113,026 876 17.2
2020 1,260 1,175,427 933 18.2
2021 1,202 1,328,682 1,105 20.6

I don’t set out to write 20 books a year, but there they are, or at least the textual equivalent, 1,202 essays, analyses, arguments, critiques, jokes, and etceterals, mostly produced first thing in the morning, often before sunrise (and at least one every day before breakfast). I don’t review and rewrite these posts the way better authors rework their novels—heck, I need you readers’ help just to catch many of my own typos! I mostly compose extemporaneously, with no outline, often without knowing what sources I’ll use or what conclusions I’ll reach by the end of the post.

These 1,202 posts in 2021 (ah! mirror image!) also lack the cohesion of a good novel… although one could argue that they include several evolving threads of ongoing stories all braided together into one prairie liberal’s persistently hopeful confrontation with ignorance and one-party rule. Surely someday we can boil all of that down to at least one good novel… or maybe nice non-fungible tokens to fund my retirement on Mars.

Since March 2015, I’ve posted 134.7 novels worth of blog content under the Dakota Free Press banner. Add my writing from August 2005 to February 2015 under the Madville Times masthead, and we could conservatively estimate that, if I keep up this pace, by the end of 2022, I’ll have written 300 books worth of blogging in my career as a public online writer.

If I finally give in and pay someone to shovel my driveway, I could get that up to 301….

*Technical Note: I calculate “words” by dividing the number of characters by 5.1, the average length of English words. I then turn that figure into novel-equivalents by dividing the calculated words by 64,531, the number of words in Brave New World. My calculated word count thus includes all of the coding that produces hyperlinks, tables, images, embedded videos, and formatting in blog posts. Thus, a post like my amused observation last October that the state website briefly declared Kristi Noem’s occupation of the Governor’s office an error only contains 59 actual words, my database looks at the image and caption coded into that post and reports 177 “words”.


  1. grudznick 2022-01-02 12:43

    You blog out a lot of pots [sic] indeed, Mr. H. And good on you. grudznick, for one, appreciates you.

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-01-02 13:23

    See? Even Grudz can be useful. (I swear I fixed that typo on my first review!)

  3. mike from iowa 2022-01-02 14:48

    re Grud Even a stopped clock is useful twice a day, about triple Grudzilla’s average.

  4. mike from iowa 2022-01-02 16:20

    How many novels worth of chastisements for us that get off topic regularly? I can certainly do better. Be easier if magats disappeared like the white man should have with Ghost Dancing.

  5. Mark Anderson 2022-01-02 16:49

    You know Cory I don’t see how you do it…really. your a novelist for sure. I’m a Haiku writer. Your Solzhenitsyn and I’m Woody Woodbury. I picked Woodbury for me because he’s still alive at 97, almost the same birthday and I grew up on his jokes. Solzhenitsyn for you not because of politics, he was in the end a fascist conservative Jew hater but because if Trump is elected again…..well it’s the gulag for you absolutely. Have a great year.

  6. Jake 2022-01-02 17:02

    Cory, you damned sure are appreciated-and for good reason. A sharp wit, clear head and ethics abound. Thanks! Sadly, the SD GOP, in the meantime (past ten yrs or so) has steadily declined in morals, values and common sense.

  7. grudznick 2022-01-02 17:12

    Mr. mike, who is but from Iowa, has a valid and interesting point. What if the statistics collected by Mr. H included, for instance, categories that were user-blogger defined, and then some sort of Artificial Intelligence robot like creature applied those categories in a non-subjective manner.

    Example categories (each blogging can have multiple categories assigned to it):
    – Out of State
    – Name Caller (combined with #1, clearly these two categories would almost have to default onto every blogging post)
    – Whiney
    – Goat was Gotten
    – Teachers crying for more money
    – We all sure hate Mr. Trump
    – Noem Derangement Syndrome
    – Conservatives with Common Sense dragging all back to reality

    There are probably not very many other categories. Those categories encompass at least 98% of all blogging posts here. Then, next year, Mr. H could publish the results.

  8. Porter Lansing 2022-01-02 17:29

    Sober up, grudznick. You’re embarassing your granddaughter.

  9. 96Tears 2022-01-02 17:30

    Before we close the DFP books on 2021, a New Year’s Eve entry on the Rapid City Journal may be the most complete and best commentary on the South Dakota Legislature in recent years. The most shocking part is it comes from Dana Hess, who contributed legislative stories for the S.D. Newspaper Association’s Community News Service. Hess has been editor of weekly and daily newspapers in South Dakota throughout his career. Never ever known for stirring controversy or even stepping out of line as a community journalist, this “Confessions of a Former Legislative Reporter” marks yet another canary croaking in the coal mine. And it’s a damn accurate and jaw-dropping exposure of how rotten and morally corrupt things have become in our State Capitol.

    It’s a major statement on how sickening governance has become in South Dakota, and maybe it indicates that people might be getting tired of a do nothing, malignancy on the State Capitol’s second and third floors. Hang onto it and make sure others see it.

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-01-02 17:33

    96, that Hess opinion column needs to be next on my blogging list, after I clear out my final year- in-review posts.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-01-02 17:37

    Dakota Haiku
    Truth bombs in tight Eastern verse—
    a whole new blog, Mark?

  12. mike from iowa 2022-01-02 17:39

    Grudzillia Childs, South Duhkota’s gastro-culinary’s connoiseur of grease laden massive coronaries.

  13. mike from iowa 2022-01-02 17:41

    I reprinted some of that column from South DaCola’s blog today to RST Tribal member, I believe.

  14. mike from iowa 2022-01-02 17:42

    No brag, just fact.

  15. grudznick 2022-01-02 17:43

    Dear Gravy:

    You are the first, You are the last
    No one is greater than You
    No name is higher
    You never fail, always prevail.

  16. 96Tears 2022-01-02 17:51

    Terms that may be unique to DFP.

    1. Carrying a grudz.
    2. Grudz match.

    With or sans gravy, always entertaining!

  17. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-01-02 17:58

    Some of Grudz’s proposed metrics would be hard to quantify. Name-calling may seem simple: define a list of insulting terms, then scan the corpus for instances. But grammatical variations complicate that list: for instance, we could put “liar” on the name-calling list, but that would catch instances when I say, “Grudz, you’re a liat!” but ignore instances when I say, “As usual, Grudz is lying to us.” We could expand the list to include “lying” and other grammatical forms, but then we run into another big complication: context. there’s a big difference between lazily accusing a fellow commentor of lying without offering any evidence that the commentor has spoken false words and reporting on, say, a court case in which evidence proves that the defendant was lying. Certain words can be used as gratuitous insults in some contexts yet perfectly accurate, meaningful descriptions in others.

    short form: a thorough analysis of name-calling and other forms of incivility across over 100,000 blog comments would require far more analysis than some easy weekend coding. It would be an interesting project, but it’s not going to happen this evening.

    By the way, there is no such thing as Noem Derangement Syndrome. That’s a made-up insult used to dismiss any rigorous criticism of one’s favored political figures that comes from researchers who would dedicate time and energy to deeply studying patterns of corruption and incompetence in those politicians’ careers. What? You’ve spent hundreds of hours researching and writing about the blessed and impeccable Kristi Noem? You must be deranged, and we may thus disregard any uncomfortable facts you unearth as lunatic ravings and not the careful conclusions of long study and expertise.

    Noem Derangement Syndrome is an ad hominem attack—name-calling, really, meant to obscure the facts and cloak the name-caller’s inability to dispute facts and arguments honestly.

    Am I calling Grudz a liar? Is he getting my goat? Am I just whining? Or have I civilly and instructively responded to a statement? Such questions are hard to code into SQL.

  18. Porter Lansing 2022-01-02 18:50

    Good one, Cory.

  19. mike from iowa 2022-01-02 19:23

    Hate to tell you, 96 Tears, but, you seriously misspelled disgusting. :)

  20. Mark Anderson 2022-01-02 19:55

    Cory, grudz can be defined by: 1. hates teachers. 2. Hates unions. 3. Likes breakfast. Pays with common cents, no tip. There is more of course but why bother?

Comments are closed.