Well, we have finally made it to the end of this weird year, and that’s saying something, all things considered. We’re still in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, obviously, but we managed to make it through a momentous election, too. Between Biden’s win and the COVID-19 vaccines now being distributed, there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel, a tangible, foreseeable end to the catastrophe of 2020 (and, let’s be honest, an end to the catastrophe of 2016 as well).
Writing this year was certainly a struggle, and every word written feels like a fucking triumph. I know that my word count totals this year are lower than they’ve been in the past, and that’s 100% okay. I’m fortunate enough to have been able to squeeze some writing and editing out of me, despite everything. I know not everyone is so fortunate, and others have been hit much harder by the pandemic than I have. So, if you’ve been struggling to write or read or do the things you usually love to do, please don’t beat yourself up about it. We’re living through a global pandemic, with a damaged economy, and a horribly dysfunctional government to blame for it. There will be more words to write, more books to read, more songs or art or play to do whenever we are able to pursue them. Right now, it’s more important to take care of yourselves, enjoy what you can, and survive—whatever that entails.
This year has forced me to do a lot of self-reflection, and as a result, I’ve learned a few things that I intend to take with me into 2021 and beyond. After struggling through much of this year, I feel like I’ve aged a decade, but also, I understand my own limitations better, and now know what boundaries and expectations to set for myself, both personally and professionally. I developed a very strong sense of what my personal priorities are and how to arrange my life and work around them. I’ve learned to let things go, to forgive myself and others, and have finally accepted that I can’t do everything, and that’s okay. That said, I have no time or patience for anyone’s bullshit anymore, and I don’t give a shit if people like me or not. I’m going to say “no” to a lot more, and I’m no longer going to sacrifice myself for things that I don’t need or want to do. Some things are important and other things aren’t.
Really, a lot of this self-reflection boils down to not having time for any bullshit, in any and all aspects of my life. There’s a lot in this world that is not worth my time, so instead, I’ll focus on the things that are worth my time and ignore, mute, block, and/or delete everything else. That’s pretty much the gist of it.
I guess this year has aggressively forced things into perspective for me.
I think every little accomplishment is worth celebrating this year, and though I did not do as many things as I had hoped this year, I am proud of what I did.
- Finished the first draft of BLOOD OF SALT, TEARS OF PEARL
- Started the second draft of BOSTOP
- Started a conlang for a new fantasy project
- Continued my gaming blog Cartridges & Catacombs
- Continued monthly newsletter and website update
- Started a weekly writing livestream
- Homeschooled for four months
- Read 11 books
- Organized several virtual local author events
- Organized and hosted a four-week virtual writing workshop
- Learned how to make mead
- Baked loads of bread
- Learned how to make donuts and cinnamon rolls
- Perfected my brownie and double chocolate chip cookie recipes
- Redecorated my office
- Hung up more art in the house
- Started walking more
- Organized and hosted a virtual book convention
- Finally beat Ganondorf in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
I’m proud of all of those things (especially the last one… after thirteen long years… I won).
First, I’ll break this down month by month, and then by project.
2020 Total: 131,681*
*not including this blog post
I’m very proud of that number. It’s less than half of what I managed to write last year (292k), but I feel like it’s a miracle I wrote anything at all after March. In fact, it’s still more than I wrote in 2018 (115k), and almost as much as I wrote in 2017 (170k), so not bad in comparison really.
This is split up between multiple projects:
BLOOD OF SALT, TEARS OF PEARL
I finished the first draft near the end of March, just as COVID-19 started shutting everything down, and then let it sit untouched until August, when I started working on revision plans and a new outline. I didn’t start writing the second draft until October. I had hoped to be finished by the end of the year, but the revisions are more difficult than I anticipated. It’s slow going for now, but I’m hopeful things will pick up after the new year.
BLOG / NEWSLETTER
I’m proud that I have kept this website (and my newsletter) updated at least once a month. I appreciate the accountability it provides, even when I’m not doing much beyond writing.
*not including this post
CARTRIDGES & CATACOMBS
I have enjoyed keeping up with my game blog. It’s nice to have a dedicated space to write out my thoughts about the things I am playing. I did take an extended break over the summer, but I picked it back up again in the fall.
I am the most inconsistent Patreon creator, and I ended up making some significant changes to my Patreon to lighten my workload a bit. I did a few posts and things this year, but the pandemic shutdown made it harder for me to take on extra things. I did end up adding stickers and merch to my page as I felt that was within my capabilities to do each month.
Over the summer, when I wasn’t ready or able to work on BLOOD OF SALT, TEARS OF PEARL, I turned to a different project, STARCALLER, in order to exercise what creative brain cells were still working. I did some worldbuilding and worked extensively on a proto conlang for the world. I’m still hashing out a lot of details for this one, so it’s very much an early work in progress.
I had to do a bit of writing for the nonprofit I work with, plus a few other odds and ends.
GOALS FOR 2021
I am going to keep my goals simple this year. I’m also going to stop reflecting on my goals of past years, because comparing my accomplishments to my ambitions always feels like a letdown. I never get everything done that I want to do, but, as I said at the beginning of this post. That’s okay. So, these goals are more like a series of ever-changing goal posts that I would like to reach, in the time it takes to get there, understanding that some goal posts may fall over or sink or shift further away, and some new goal posts make take their place.
Even though we are looking at a year that will see a new (better) president sworn into office, a continued rollout of coronavirus vaccines, and a hope for a return to some semblance of normal, I also understand that this pandemic and the economic fallout are far from over. There is an end to this, but it will not come quickly. There is still a lot of uncertainty with regard to the future, with no way of knowing for sure when we will be able to return to normal and no longer have to worry about the virus in our day-to-day lives.
I am a “prepare for the worst, hope for the best” kind of gal, which may seem like a pessimistic worldview, but it makes almost everything pleasantly better than expected, which is better than being completely blindsided by something terrible and unexpected, in my mind. (This happened to me twice within a year, leading to a deep, near-suicidal depression at the end of 2017 that required medication and therapy to overcome and manage; since then, I’ve learned not to set my expectations on anything that is not 100% within my control.)
These goals reflect that mindset. Since I don’t yet know how certain things will play out, I’m operating under the assumption that things will not improve or change drastically from my current situation, which means I may end up pretty much homeschooling again for a chunk of the year, and I won’t have the time, energy, or creativity to do much writing beyond what I’ve managed this year.
So, realistic professional goals for 2021:
- Finish draft 2 of BLOOD OF SALT, TEARS OF PEARL
- Read 15 books
And my bonus “hope for the best” goals:
- Send BOSTOP to Beta Readers
- Complete draft 3 of BOSTOP
- Query agents for BOSTOP
- Work on STARCALLER
Those first goals feel the most doable, though it really depends on how much I am actually able to write month to month. An average of 15,000 words per month will see the second draft finished around October. Assuming I write at least that much or more, and that the finished second draft is actually good enough to send to people, then I can move on to the “hope for the best” goal of sending it to beta readers. It really depends. Based on my writing this year, I averaged 11,000 words a month across all projects, but it was also an off year, for obvious reasons.
While I don’t anticipate much improvement in the first half of next year, I’m hopeful that my rewriting process will speed up as I get into a good work flow. It also depends on just how long the second draft ends up being. Obviously, the longer the draft, the longer it will take, but I am going to work on it with the goal of completing the draft no later than the end of the year.
Beyond writing, I just want to keep improving myself in 2021, whether it’s writing or baking or crafting or learning or doing something new altogether. I intend to focus on things that make me happy, take pleasure in what little joys I can, and ultimately strive toward peace, joy, and balance in myself.
Happy holidays to you all. May you find peace, joy, and balance in yourselves this coming year.