For the last two years, I’ve had a blog post listing my writing goals for the coming year. Making those goals public has been a great way of both letting you all know what’s coming and holding myself accountable, and I suspect I’ll continue the practice for years to come.
2020 is, of course, a very unique year; a collection of individual hellscapes somehow packed into 7.5 months. Nevertheless, another quarter has come and gone, and it’s well past time for me to check back in on the year’s goals to see how well I’m doing.
As a typical click-bait headline would say… The Answer May Surprise You!! (But let’s be honest; it probably won’t.)
If you, like me, have somehow forgotten what those goals were in the face of domestic unrest, global pandemics, and not setting foot outside our houses since the early Cretaceous period, you’re in luck. I’m sharing them again below, along with the mid-year grade and a brief status update for each goal. So here we go; the 2020 mid-year review. Goals, grades, and evaluations, just like we used to get in school… you know, when school was a thing.
2020 Writing Goals – Mid-Year Grades
Neatly sidestep the question of whether goals are the same as resolutions by exclusively using the word goals in this and future posts
Grade: A+. I continue to triumph over the forces of ambiguity.
Finish my re-write of Investigation, Mediation, Vindication, and publish it by late spring
Grade: A-. Investigation, Mediation, Vindication was released on Amazon at the end of May where it is currently… well, minding its own business. Reviews have been positive, and far more numerous on Goodreads than Amazon.
Allocate Thursdays for writing poetry and start sharing those poems again
Grade: Well… you see…1 I’ve been writing poetry steadily every Thursday but haven’t shared new poems for quite a while. But I have reasons! I’ll get into those below.
Continue blogging every month
Grade: So far, so good. I could definitely step this up a bit.
Drink a lot of whisky
Grade: A+. Please note that I came up with this goal before we ended up being quarantined in our homes for months on end. You’d better believe I’m crushing it.
Write the sequel to See These Bones and publish it this fall
Grade: Incomplete. As of this morning, I’ve written 62,895 words in Red Right Hand, which puts me just a bit over what I suspect is the halfway point. I’m behind schedule but hopefully picking up speed.
Reserve December for writing Fire of Unknown Origin, the final novelette (for now) set in the See These Bones universe
Grade: Incomplete. Fire of Unknown Origin is no longer the final novelette in the See These Bones universe, as I now have plans for another two: Tea Time With Grannypocalypse and A Sure Thing. That said, the goal remains to write FoUO in December. I’ll start panicking about it sometime around Thanksgiving.
Learn American Sign Language
Grade: Incomplete. I think this one is getting tabled until 2021. Yes, web conference instruction is available, but I’d really prefer to learn face-to-face, once the pandemic is over.
Use commas where appropriate. Also… use them where inappropriate. This is a free-comma society, man. We don’t subscribe to your limitations.
Grade: 5 twinkling golden stars. When everyone else is asleep at night, I open documents on my computer, entirely at random, and sprinkle in additional commas. It’s my contribution to the world.
Huh. That’s… not horrible.
I know, right? This is better than I would have predicted. Or at least better than it was looking at the end of the first quarter. I’ve already been more productive than I was in all of 2019!
Red Right Hand is going more slowly than I’d prefer, but I have a good shot of finishing the draft in August, so a fall release remains in sight. And I think the story reads pretty well so far, raising (perhaps foolish) hopes that the editing process won’t be quite as grueling as usual.
Throwing in a bunch of easily met joke goals (whisky, commas, etc.) definitely has gone a long way to making me feel successful. I highly recommend it as a goal-giving strategy! A+’s for everyone!
But what about your poetry?
I’ve actually been doing a good job writing poetry this year. So far, I’ve written sixty-two (62!) poems this year, which vastly exceeds my typical annual output. They aren’t all good, of course. Some need more work to become viable, while others will just end up on the digital scrapheap. But a handful are among my favorite poems I’ve ever written. Maybe there’s something to the whole just write and something good will happen approach?
So why haven’t I shared any poems since April? At first, it was because the countdown to IMV’s release meant I already felt like I was spamming you all with two new posts a week. Then, once that book was released, I started looking into submitting my poetry to online journals and magazines. And that’s when I discovered that many of those sites don’t accept previously published work… and my sharing a poem on my own site2 is sufficient to invalidate a poem for submission.
On the one hand… woo! I think that means I’m a published poet! On the other hand… no, it really, really doesn’t. And if I want to become one, it looks like sharing my poetry online might be a bit of an issue. I still haven’t decided what to do there. I could share poems that I don’t plan to officially publish, but then you wouldn’t be getting what I consider to be my better work. For the time being, I’m planning to send some poems out for contests and submissions (followers on Instagram and Facebook know I’ve also been working on a chapbook-length submission), and we’ll just have to see what happens.
So there you have it. With the exceptions of learning ASL and sharing any of the new poetry I’m writing, I am actually on track with my goals for the year. I know, I know; I’m as surprised as you are! Hopefully, things will keep humming for the next 5 months. And maybe 2020 will start to turn itself around too. There’s always room to dream. As I saw someone say on Instagram:
Maybe 2020 will be like a mullet, and we’ll party on the back half of it.
Here’s hoping. Please save us, oh mullet metaphor!
If you’ve read this far, you’ve got gumption, kid. In fact, you’re just the kind of person I’m looking for… to subscribe to my newsletter. Come join the fun!
And by fun, I mean “be alerted when new books are available.” If this site’s blog posts are my monthly, in-depth, fact-heavy shareholders’ reports, the newsletters are my far-less-frequent, carefully crafted pseudo-tweets, skipping all the nitty gritty to tell you what you actually want to know; what’s new and how you can get it.
I promise that I will never spam you… because spamming takes effort, and I am way, way too busy for that.