So instead of weekly goals today, let's see how I'm tracking...
It’s now mid-January, so I’m a little late writing this annual letter to myself. But I have a good excuse because before the New Year hit I was writing a novella to deadline and I went away on holiday right afterward and didn’t take my computer with me. So here we are... You see? It's been a trend all year. I was late setting the goals, so it's not such a big deal I'm late tracking them. That's my story, anyway.
For those of you who haven’t followed me through this annual ritual, each year I write a letter to myself outlining my goals for the year ahead. Around mid June I check in on it to see how I’m tracking, and then again at the end of the year.
Before we look at the year ahead, let’s just take a moment to reflect on the year just gone. For the last couple of years I have struggled a little as a writer. After 23 years working as a cinema manager, I moved into a new role which has evolved to a point where much of my day is spent writing, editing and otherwise wrangling words. While I have learned an enormous amount doing this, and really enjoy the work, I often find myself completely depleted by the end of the day and unable to find the energy or inspiration for my own writing. This has gone double this year, what with the lockdown and having to work from home in the place I usually write. No way was I going to write at night after sitting there all day working...
Learning to accept that I’m not able to be as prolific as I used to be has been a challenge, but I think I am now at peace with it. It means that any opportunity I have to write is all the more precious. And toward the end of 2019 I think I fell back in love with writing after being somewhat disenchanted with it for a time.
So my main goal in 2020 is to keep being in love with writing and to keep doing it whenever the opportunity arises. I think perhaps I have given too much weight to publishing novels over the last few years, and while I still want to write and publish my books, I also want to explore other opportunities.
I have always written short stories, and have a pile of good ones just sitting there, waiting to be published. So this year I plan to do some writing and submitting of short stories as well as continuing to write and submit novels. I have submitted a few short stories this year. Not many, but a few...
I also still have several finished, almost-finished and partly finished novels sitting on my hard drive. Some of these are really good and I need to get them to the point I can send them out to publishers etc. In 2019 my goal was to finish all these books too, but I only actually got one finished and sent out during the year, despite my best intentions. I’m still waiting to hear back about that one too, so we’ll see... It was rejected, but I've sent it back out. So still waiting.
There’s a contest I’m hoping to enter too, and it closes in early February, so I’m working to get another one of those unfinished/almost-finished books ready to send out. I’ve changed my mind a few times about which one to work on, but I think I’ve landed on the right one for this particular contest. I entered My Murder Year. It didn't win. I sent it out to a publisher and it was rejected (which I kind of expected because it wasn't 100% right for that publisher.). Will be sending it out again soon.
Once that one is done and out the door, I have notes from critique partners to address on two other books. Plus two other books that need endings. One of these I really like, but I struggled for months last year over how to end it. I’m still not 100% certain I know what to do with it, but I’m determined to figure it out because I really love the book and its characters. I just finished this book on Friday! Talk about relief! Now to go back to one of the others that need work.
The other things I’d really like to try and tackle this year are writing a novel based on my “beach house” series of short stories, and attempting my first novel for adults. I have a loose kind of outline for the adult novel written and I had planned to write it during NaNo in November, but chickened out. So I wrote something else during NaNo while I started reading more adult books to try and figure out how the tone of voice is different. Hopefully I’ll feel ready to write this story this year. It’s one that’s been hanging out in my head since about 2010... I've been reading a lot more adult books, but I'm still not sure I'm ready to write this. But I might start and just see where we get to with it.
On the non-writing side of things, I plan to keep exercising regularly. While the weather is good and daylight saving keeps the evenings light enough, I will keep riding my bike to and from work as much as possible. Once the weather turns, I will get back into going to the gym at lunchtimes as often as I can. And I will keep going to my Saturday morning spin classes every week because I enjoy them, even after 10 or so years. The lockdown kind of put paid to the gym going, but I'm back now. And during lockdown I was actually better than I usually am because I didn't have to commute to work so instead I spent that time walking or cycling. The gym near my work has just cancelled its classes which is a pain, but I'm going to try and go at lunchtime three or four times a week and just run or lift weights. We'll see.
My younger son starts high school this year and I think he’s going to find it quite challenging. I want to be available to him if he struggles and find ways to help him settle in, make new friends and hopefully find something that interests him (other than video games). A good ambition, but he doesn't seem to want my help. Even with doing school online, he wouldn't really share what he was up to (no good, most of the time).
And I think that’s about it. I know I should probably make some kind of goal around being kinder to myself or taking time out for me, but writing time is “me time” and as long as I can have a bath each night and read a book while I’m soaking, I’m happy.
What are your goals for the year?