On the final day of 2020, I posted about my writing accomplishments in that year. Thought about posting my goals for 2021 the following day, but decided to take a few days off. Got up at 7 today, wrote for five hours, so I’m back on my game.
Found out last week that it’s actually pretty easy to create a table in WordPress, once you locate the command button:
Total Submissions is an activity I didn’t track in 2020. This represents journal submissions for all stories, even the ones I completed in previous years. In 2019 I made 23 submissions, which increased slightly to 28 last year. I have nine stories still seeking a home, with several more to come; averaging five submissions for each story shouldn’t be burdensome.
Blogging isn’t essential to my fiction writing, but it’s an important communication tool. Posting three to four times a week should keep me in touch with the world.
I also want to return to my novels, something I barely considered last year. It’s time for a third draft of Gray Metal Faces, plus an initial draft of a completely new project for this year’s National Novel Writing Month event in November. Don’t know what I’m going to write yet, but I plan on having fun with whatever I decide to write.
I’m also eliminating one of my benchmarks from the past: writing income. When I began this adventure two and a half years ago, I set my ambition towards making a living as a writer. Since then, I’ve concluded that’s actually backwards thinking. Living a writer’s life was my actual goal; trying to make that life pay the bills was becoming an obstacle. Once more I shall express gratitude for the resources available to me, not only financial but also in support from family and friends. Instead of trying to make it on my own, I’m going to rely on help.
I’ve got 361 more days to complete the tasks I’ve set for myself. Let’s revisit this post in late June, and see whether the Minimum benchmarks in the above chart have been reached and how far I’ve come in the latest revision of my fencing novel. That mid-year progress analysis will show how much work remains in the second half of what should be a very productive year.
At the beginning of March, I announced a set of goals for my short fiction in 2020. On the last day of the year, it’s time to revisit and evaluate.
After finally figuring out how to create a table in the new WordPress interface (which sucks, absolutely sucks), here’s the goals I set for my short stories in the past year:
In other words, I had a productive year.
I had other writing goals as well that didn’t make it into that March post. I wrote yesterday about my year-long series of weekly journal reviews; reaching that goal was as significant as my short story accomplishments. I also wanted to post three times a week on this blog, and as today’s will be the 159th post of 2020, that makes for another goal reached.
I’d also set a monetary goal of $25K, income I hoped to accumulate through technical writing, tutoring, and whatever I earned through published stories. Actual income earned was around $18K, well under my target. I’ll have more to say about income goals when I set my goals for 2021 in a future post.
I’ve developed significant momentum in my writing career over the past year, and as I close out this post it’s important to identify why this happened. Being home more because of COVID-19 certainly contributed, but not nearly as much as my early-morning commitment. It’s entirely possible I haven’t blogged on this yet, but in early May I accepted an invitation from a fellow writer to write for an hour at 6 AM. I don’t enjoy early mornings, but frustration over my lack of progress inspired me to try something new. I can’t do it every day like my colleague does — three days of rising at 5 is all I can comfortably handle — but the results speak for themselves. My early mornings will continue into 2021.
My friends, these past 365 days have been a challenge. I’m grateful for having the resources to weather the ongoing storm of this pandemic, and appreciate how I’ve been able to stretch for and reach my most significant writing goals. A year from today, I hope all of us will be able to look back on a year of recovery.
Submitted another story recently to the weekly Reedsy Prompts contest. I was pretty satisfied with most of it, but the ending was a little weak. I’m enjoying the occasional prompt contest as it seems to engage my creativity and give me energy to work on my other stories. And who knows, maybe I’ll win one of these weeks if I keep at it. Fifty bucks ain’t much, but I’m not playing this game for the money.
In years past, Julia’s family would bring the holidays to her and Carlton. Quarantine orders, lockdowns, and social distancing precluded such visits in 2020. Even carolers, routine in her neighborhood each December, had been prohibited.
But nothing was going to stop Julia from celebrating Christmas.
“Perhaps we shouldn’t put the lights around the front door,” Carlton suggested. “Why draw attention to an outside world that’s been shut down?”
“Oh I’ve a plan,” Julia replied. “Small LED screens over the windows, coordinated to show holiday images.”
“You really are determined to celebrate Christmas?” Carlton asked.
It’s the activity I miss most, the students’ energy between classes, shuttling books between their lockers and backpacks, the student voices a chorus of youthful grievances, earnest braggadocio, and conspiratorial whispers.
An energy not replicable over Zoom.
I return to the school building weekly, more out of longing than necessity. Walking through the long empty and now dusty corridors today, I remembered my dream from last weekend. Students at their lockers, gathering their books in the black-and-white of all my dreams.
“Where are you going?” my dream-self asked.
A nameless teen looked up at me. “We’re not here,” she said.
Tried something different last week and submitted a story for a Reedsy Prompts contest. It’s called The Field, and while it didn’t earn any prize I’m pretty satisfied at having produced a complete story in less than a week. There will be more contest entries in the future.