Blogger’s Beowulf Book Update #6

A scribe at a medieval writing desk perhaps copying out Beowulf the poem itself.

A scribe hard at work (…or could marginalia making mean that they’re hardly working?). Image from

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I feel like I’ve taken two steps forward, and one step back with this project.

In the last update post I’d stated my hope that I’d be onto the formatting part of the process by the time I was writing this update. Unfortunately, I’m not there yet.


I do have a lot more information about the work that I have left now.

Commentary Clarity

So, for the sake of keeping them clearly organized, I pulled all of my commentaries from this blog into a spreadsheet. Once I’d gathered all of them, they filled 273 rows.

Because of this volume, I decided that it would probably be easier to edit the commentaries in a word document rather than in the awkward view that a spreadsheet offered. So I copied all the commentaries and then pasted them into a new document.

And that document swelled to 466 pages containing 221,322 words.

That’s more words than Moby Dick, it’s longer than Crime and Punishment. Needless to say, those numbers gave me a little pause when I remembered my revised ETA of April 4th.

Then, when I timed how long it took me to edit one commentary, I clocked in at around 10 minutes.

With 273 commentaries, if each takes me 10 minutes, then editing them all will take me about 2,730 minutes or 45 hours and 30 minutes.

Considering that this is just one of the projects I’m working on in my free time, still have a day job and try to maintain a balance with something of a personal life and pure down time, another week will definitely not be enough for me to finish the commentaries.

Finding Myself Halfway Through a Re-Read Through

My read through has turned into a re-read through because as I was wrapping up I realized that I needed to pay way more attention to the rhythm of my lines.

What exactly does that mean?

I’m trying to balance my poem to have lines that are fairly short (maybe seven words on average) that still have the tiny pause called a caesura found in the original Old English. As a result I’m carefully re-reading through the poem with an ear to where that caesura falls and rejiggering lines and adding words as necessary.

The good news? I’m up to book 25 of 42 as of this writing.

When Will It End?

And, to try to set any concern that I’m never going to stop touching up this poem, once I’m finished with this read through I’m going to release the poem by itself. I’ll commission a cover, get the poem formatted into an e-book, and then make it available for sale.

So, if I give myself another week to wrap up that re-read through and then another to get the e-book together, I should be able to release the poem in the middle of April. The release should fall in the same week I’ll be making another one of these posts, actually.

And here’s my swing at the ETA for the complete project.

Keeping the above ETA for the poem alone in mind, I should be able to seriously start in on editing the commentaries in the third week of April. Rounding the estimated time it will take to edit the commentaries up to 46 hours, if I dedicated about 10 hours a week to editing them, I should be able to get them edited after five weeks.

So I should be able to wrap up the commentaries and have them and the complete version of the book released come the fourth week of May (adding an extra week for formatting and buffer).

A Humble Conclusion

I’m really hoping that this is the last time I need to push the release of this project back. It feels like every time I do I’m disappointing the fans of this blog, my readers.

But, luckily, having the numbers I do now and knowing what I know about how much I can realistically do in a week, I think that this will be the last time I push Beowulf further into 2019.

To those fans and readers, all that’s left to say for now is: Thanks for sticking with me through this project!

Blogger’s Beowulf Book Update #5

A scribe at a medieval writing desk perhaps copying out Beowulf the poem itself.

A scribe hard at work (…or could marginalia making mean that they’re hardly working?). Image from

Well, I kinda messed up in the last update.

Though I did have a few solid days off the week after that update went out, I completely forgot that I was on deck for editing that week’s episode of the podcast I’m a part of. If you’re curious, you can listen to that episode (and all the other’s we’ve done here).

Luckily, I was still able to make a good bit of progress all the same. I’m not through with the poem proper just yet (still have another 29 chapters (books?) to go through), but I have gathered all of the commentaries. Now I just need to make sure that all the t’s are crossed and i’s are dotted with them and then that part of the book will be finished.

Linking those commentaries up to the poem is a bit of a different story, though.

I’ve been shuffling some lines around in an effort to improve the rhythm and flow of my translation, as well as its readability on screens that are smaller than a trade paperback’s page. If an original organizing principle of the poem was the line, such a principle for my translation would be the paragraph. (Or perhaps a stanza-graph since this is still a poem?)

In any case, the next week is set to have a similar number of free days as that past golden week was going to. The difference this time, is that I don’t have a podcast to edit.

So, it’s my plan as of this writing to come to the next book update with a story or two about transforming my translation and all of my blogging about this poem into something e-book reading apps will recognize.

But I need to finish the read through and finalize my commentaries first. And I shall.

As always, thanks for sticking with me through this project!