At the beginning of each year I write myself a letter outlining the things I plan to achieve during the year. Now that the year is over, it's time to check in and see how I did. Original letter is in black; my comments on it in purple.
Writing this annual letter outlining my goals for the year seems almost presumptuous given the shitshow 2020 turned out to be. But it's human nature to live in hope, so I'm writing this in that spirit of hope, crossing my fingers that 2021 turns out to be a much better year.
So what do I hope to achieve in 2021?
I started querying Standing Too Close in October, albeit in a very slow, quiet way. So far, no bites, so I will continue to query this widely. I'm confident it's one of the best things I've written and I love the characters almost as much as my own children so I want this book to be seen and read widely.
I did keep querying. I think I stopped at about 70 queries. I had one full request which I withdrew when the agent who requested it turned out to be someone I didn't want to work with and one partial request which is still out there. I'm not giving up on this one because I still believe it's among the best things I've written. I'm going to do a little work on it and enter it into a competition. The results won't be announced until September, so it's going to be a long process.
I have a book coming out in March. Chasing the Taillights was originally written about ten years ago, but has been rewritten several times since. It's another story where I feel very close to the characters so I'm very glad other people are going to get the chance to meet Lucy and Tony. I plan to throw everything I can at marketing this book in the hope it will generate some sales and possibly even boost sales of my other published books. They need it!
I worked my ass off to get this book in front of reviewers etc, and it got some absolutely wonderful reviews (as all my books seem to), but it still isn't selling any better than my other books. Which is disappointing, but not that surprising considering how limited my publisher's distribution is.
In February I plan to dig out the book I wrote during NaNo to start revising and editing it. By then I'm hoping I've forgotten enough about it to look at it with fresh eyes and really see what needs to be done - other than the 700 things I left myself notes to fix later. I'm hoping this will turn out to be good once it has been through some revision.
I started this, but never finished. In the last week or so, since I've been on vacation, I've taken another look at this one and there are some really wonderful bits in it. I'm hoping in 2022 I might reignite my passion for writing and actually do the work needed to make this one shine.
At some point in the year I want to write the other book I had in mind for NaNo. A Stranger to Kindness is going to be a challenge for me, but the characters are living and growing in my head and eventually they're going to want to get out to play on the page. It's going to be kind of a companion piece to Stumped in that Ozzy's little sister, Meg, is a character in this one. Not exactly a main character, but an important one. The main character is a boy who doesn't speak, and given how reliant I am on dialogue in my books, this is where the challenge lies...
Another one I didn't do. I still love Harley and Wolfe and Meg, the main characters in this one, but I haven't quite figured out how their story plays out. I have written notes, and Harley's voice is pretty clear to me, so again, this might be something I do in 2022. It also might not...
So those are my main writing challenges for the year. I'm hoping to be able to find other opportunities too, but as I don't know what they are yet, it's difficult to know how to plan for them other than to be open to things.
I didn't write much at all in 2021, for the first time in about 20 years. I took up painting later in the year, which I really enjoy and find quite relaxing. I'm not great at it, but getting better each time I try it. I hope I can find a way to balance both writing and painting as creative outlets in the year ahead.
I didn't hit my reading goal this year. In retrospect, 160 books in a year was probably always going to be a stretch, but libraries closing over lockdown definitely didn't help. I'm going to set a more realistic 145 book goal for 2021 and already have the first nine or ten lined up to read over the next ten days. I can't wait!
I ended up setting my reading goal at 150 books for the year and I've missed it by 4, ending the year on 146 books read. I read a lot more adult books this year which probably accounts for that since they tend to be both longer and more difficult to read than YA books. I'm not disappointed by that total though, and I've read some things I really enjoyed.
Other goals for the year include continuing to exercise regularly and to go to the cinema as much as possible. COVID-19 has made significant changes to the way films are being released and viewed, and as someone who has devoted much of her life to cinemas, I want to support them as much as possible. I cannot imagine a world in which movies are not seen in theaters. As much as I love the convenience of being able to watch what I want at home, nothing will replace the experience of sitting in a dark theatre with a community of strangers and sharing a story.
I have managed the exercise one, but my support of cinemas has been sporadic. COVID disrupted the release schedule so much there was often nothing much on I wanted to see, and there were periods through the year when cinemas were closed. I have been a lot more recently and will continue to go regularly as more films come out that I actually want to see.
And I think that's it... What are your goals for the new year?
So, there we are. I don't feel like I've achieved much during 2021, but at the same time, I feel like just getting through the year is an achievement in itself. I'm not beating myself up about not writing more. I know it's something I will get back to. I just don't know exactly when it's going to be and I feel like forcing myself to do it when I'm not feeling it will not give me anything any good. So I'll just wait and see when the bug bites me again.
How did you do with your 2021 goals?