Looking Back, Looking Ahead

A little over a year ago, I announced my writing goals for 2021. It’s past time to compare what I’d planned against what I actually accomplished, as well as look ahead to 2022.

Giddy at reaching my Stretch goals for 2020, I raised the stakes of my writing ambition. Performance against those aggressive plans was at first glance very disappointing:

 Stories DraftedStories RevisedStories SubmittedTotal SubmissionsBlog Posts
Minimum96625156
Goal129950182
Stretch15121275208
ACTUAL84460112

I didn’t reach even the Minimum benchmarks in any of status levels. I did reach the Goal for total submissions (more on that later), but fell way short on my total blog posts. I also wrote last year about revising one of my drafted novels, and starting a new novel during National Novel Writing Month; these two goals also went unmet in 2021.

What happened last year? Why did I fail to reach most of my writing goals in 2021? I can identify two reasons:

  1. I attended 14 writing workshops, twice as many as I had in 2020. I learned a lot from these workshops, but they took a lot of time.
  2. I spent a lot of time researching literary journals and genre magazines – this is the main reason why I was able to reach the Goal for Submissions

It was actually a busy year for my writing – just not the type of busyness I’d expected.

I’m making the following changes for my 2022 goals:

  1. I’m going back to my 2020 goals for each story status
  2. Since I met my Goal benchmark for Submissions in 2021, I’m keeping these benchmarks for the coming year
  3. After considering whether to abandon any blogging goals, I decided to keep the benchmarks but with much lower numbers
  4. As the value I receive from workshops is certainly worth the time investment required, I’m adding these to my list of goals
  5. I still like the idea of returning to my novels, so I’m repeating the two goals I’d set for 2021 (revise one, draft another)

Here is my matrix of writing goals for 2022:

 Stories DraftedStories RevisedStories SubmittedTotal SubmissionsBlog PostsWorkshops Attended
Minimum633251006
Goal966501509
Stretch12997517512

Next January, I hope to look back on the previous year with more satisfaction than I feel now when reviewing my 2021 goals.

Unbearable Paradise

PHOTO PROMPT © Bradley Harris

Lyn hadn’t yearned for vacation’s end like she did now.

Her mother was bedridden from knee pain, and her father’s dementia led to acts such as placing laundry in the oven and dialing the number for his long-dead sister.

When she arrived two weeks ago, Lyn made appointments with several in-home nursing agencies. The contract with Aloha Care was signed 40 hours before her departure.

The following afternoon, Lyn walked alone for the first time. She gazed over the Pacific and its promise of a typically beautiful sunset.

Lyn cried, not wanting to leave but unable to bear staying longer.

Each time I write for Friday Fictioneers, half my time is spent developing the story and the other half with editing it down to the 100-word limit.

Retirement Party

PHOTO PROMPT – Copyright – Claire Fuller

“Where’s Mich?” asked Sonny. “All this waiting’s making me cuckoo!”

“He’s probably tired because of all that time he spends on the road,” replied Wendy. “And he probably picked up dinner at a drive-thru, so he may not be hungry.”

“Or maybe he got into an accident,” Professor Burke observed.

“Just be cool,” Chester drawled. “Have a snack if you’re antsy.”

Ernie sighed heavily. “We just want to have a goodbye party for the man, like we did last year for Jemima and Ben. Young people don’t recognize him anymore, just like me and Joe.”

“I’ll call him,” Lily said.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction contest. I actually did a bit of fun research for this week’s story.

Mysterious Protest

PHOTO PROMPT © LIsa Fox

Caleb assumed it was a prank, a solitary protest erected in defiance of an unjust system. The town he’d just moved into was rural, but every home looked modern enough for running water and sewage.

“Who owns that land on Duneview?” he asked a police officer he encountered one morning at a diner. “Where Hunt Drive ends?” It was a residential area, but there were no nearby houses.

“Dunno.”

“So you don’t know who erected the double-decker?”

“The what?” The officer then excused himself and left.

Caleb finished his meal, wondering how to find an answer to this minor mystery.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

Unusual Delivery

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

This was always the most unusual delivery on Teddy’s route.

The outdoor firewood rack at the side of the house was a standard eight by six feet, yet an area had been cleared in the middle of the rack’s bottom for a double-paned basement window. In previous years, Teddy assumed this design was intended to allow light into a finished basement room. After this year’s delivery, he had to satisfy his curiosity.

After filling the rack, Teddy knelt down outside the window, covered on the inside by only a short valance along its upper third. He looked inside… and laughed.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

Travelling Companion

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

“Amazing, eh?”

Stan knew he needed to respond. He’d avoided attention the last 29 hours, and if he could maintain the deceit through the remaining ninety minutes on this ferry, he’d be free. “First time I’ve taken this tour,” he said. “Yeah, the view’s impressive.”

“Harold Misner.” Harold extended his hand, which Stan shook. “From Peoria, family holiday. What brings you here?”

Warrants in three countries. “Stan, from Albany.” He’d visited his brother there several times.

A woman called to Harold, who excused himself. Stan looked out over the waters, wondering how best to deal with this new travelling companion.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

Visual Aid

PHOTO PROMPT © Jennifer Pendergast

They don’t get it, Jenkins realized. The heist required precise and coordinated actions, but the guys he’d found clearly didn’t understand.

Jenkins needed a visual aid, and found inspiration on seeing the abandoned supplies next to a daycare center’s dumpster.

He drew three overlapping circles on construction paper representing the adjoining buildings. The number 4 signified the on-duty guards in the laboratory, with the yellow truck and Lego man at the center being the fake emergency crew creating the distraction. Surveillance cameras were located with small Lego pieces.

Using a Santa pencil as a pointer for emphasis seemed oddly appropriate.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

Second Intention

A story of mine has recently been published by a journal called the Scarlet Leaf Review. The story is called “Second Intention,” and you can read it here. There’s no pay wall, but you’ll have to click past some annoying ads along the way. There’s also some NSFW language in the story, but nothing you probably haven’t seen before.

After close to 80 rejections, it’s a relief to have something accepted. And yes, there will be more acceptances among the many more rejections in the future.

Liftoff

PHOTO PROMPT © Douglas M. MacIlroy

The mission was already four months behind schedule, further delays inevitable. Still, enthusiasm among the project team remained high. A successful launch would ensure the mission would receive a full chapter in history books for a century.

Alonso’s role was small, a calibration of a stabilization gyroscope. His advanced degrees weren’t needed ; a graduate student could’ve performed the task as easily and reliably. Yet his position wouldn’t be identified on the project team, and if he exaggerated his role for the liftoff among his family nobody would correct him.

Yes, his job was boring. No, he didn’t care.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

Carry-out

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

“Mind if I sit, Dad?”

The old man nodded without looking up from his lemonade. By sending his son rather than either daughter, the family was sending a message. “I’m not ready,” he muttered.

The son sat at the other end of the small rectangular diner table. Condiments were arranged at that end as if the son were about to have a meal of ketchup, salt, and pepper. “Time to come home,” he said.

“I just ordered dinner.”

“We’ll do carry-out.”

“I’ll never sign.” The old man looked up. “Never.”

“No documents tonight, Dad. But we need you home.”

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.