I took three days to go to Fairview, Montana, and see my sister-in-law graduate from high school. (Congratulations, Andi.) It amounted to three days of needed recharging of the creative batteries, some time for enjoying family and a slow pace.

On the 280-some-mile drive home yesterday, as my wife disappeared into her book and I sang along with the iPod — and God bless her for being OK with that — I had a bit of an epiphany about my current project and how to repair something that was lacking in it. Any road is usually good for such thinking, and the road through Eastern Montana is better than most. Long stretches of treeless plains and odd little buttes give the mind an excuse to focus when the eyes cannot.

So, today, armed with an the aforementioned epiphany, I set to work again, and plodded through 2,900-plus words and two new chapters. If I can liken my novel project to a house, my idea was more on the order of “say, a different approach with the eaves would look really nice” than it was “we’re going to have to bring the whole sumbitch down and start again.” And thank goodness for that.

At this point, the word count doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot, as there are still many writing and editing sessions to go. Still, if you’re into numbers, here’s one: 41,471. In story terms, I’ve crossed the midway point. The best parts are yet to come (I hope).