This is December’s blog topic but honestly it’s something I would do anyway. Retrospectives are a bit of a thing for me. The prompt is simply to “sum up your year” so I will endeavour to break it down and not just ramble.
In January I did the usual goals post which can be found here – WriYe: Impossible Year.
I started that goal post by saying that in my review of 2021 I had put “that I really didn’t want to get to the end of the year and be disappointed again – but I was.” and that is the dream. Ultimately really that was the dream for this year when I get right down to it. What I said in that goal post was that I was really searching for some confidence, to have some hope again, to feel like I can actually do it.
So did I get that in the end?
Let’s see. I set my initial WriYe target as 100k. I also said I wanted a complete novel draft. I talked about the luddite breaking out of my box (cozy mystery) but as I said what I really wanted was to feel accomplished, to feel like I was on the right track.
I said that it was an ‘impossible year’ because at some point I would be moving house. In January I said I didn’t know when or where because we hadn’t sold. Well as it turns out in the end we didn’t have to sell. Mum kept her house and I managed to nab a little place of my own just down the road. I moved in September 13th and it couldn’t be better. I love this house. It’s everything I could ever have possibly hoped. Did I stay sane through the moving process? (that was a goal) Well it was touch and go in places but ultimately so very worth it. So I am indeed writing this retrospective post in another house – in my own house – which I had hoped for in that January post.
What about the writing?
I hit the 100k in March but it was all fanfic. I got a bit ambitious and raised my target to 500k as I decided I wanted to quit fanfic by the end of the year, and was giving myself the year to write all the stories on my list. Well with all the stress of moving I predictably stopped writing and so that didn’t happen. Then once I had moved I decided I wouldn’t go back to the fanfic in the new house. I am sad that those ideas will never be made reality, as I really wanted to read them, but can’t do everything and my dream is to publish original, so that has to be where my time and effort goes.
Last year (2021) I wrote the first 60% or thereabouts of a first draft of a sci-fi thriller. I did finish that this year. For NaNo I wrote the first half of a steampunk novel. I was supposed to finish it in December and I did not. So I don’t think I quite got 100k in original words, and I didn’t write a complete first draft. The luddite (cozy mystery) I got 20 pages (about 5k) but it’s planned, so that’s started at least.
In November I lowered that ridiculous 500k goal to 250k and I’m ending up at 232,433. I was supposed to write the missing 18k between Christmas and New Year but that’s just not happening so I’m going to have to take this year as a loss on WriYe. Should have expected it really given the moving stress but I’m sad anyway.
Other goals and stuff
I said that I would be trying new things with my progress thread. I spammed the place up with bi-weekly breakdowns of my to do list for a while. I was searching for something that would help keep me on track as I always seemed to be scrambling at the end of the month. Ultimately it didn’t help much but it was an experiment and at least I learned what didn’t work.
The Coloured Pencil art course isn’t really much further forward. I poked at it a few times, and signed up for a bunch more classes on Udemy (and didn’t do those either). I will do a separate post recapping the art so enough of that.
In terms of the other goals most of them got binned by March as they weren’t important and weren’t getting done anyway. It still bugs me that I have an insane TV watchlist, or video games I would love to play are just sitting there unplayed/unfinished. The only ‘extra’ goal that went well is the reading. I have 1 book left to read this year and then I will have read 42 books (and completed the WriYe reading challenge) which is fairly huge for me, as I had totally got out of the habit of reading. In contrast I read 17 books in 2021 which was also major as I had read 3 the year before and more like zero for several years before that.
In October I took HB90, which is a course about how to plan goals realistically. So this past quarter was my first. I am now totally all in with loving stickers in a paper planner, but I don’t know how much it has actually helped me in terms of getting more done. I still procrastinate/don’t focus, and because I don’t want to be like that, I pretend I’m not, and then get frustrated that I’m not completing my plans. The course says I should “accept myself as I am” but the whole reason for doing the goals, is because I am not happy with how I am and want to do better – feels very catch 22 to me.
2022 was always intended to be a rebuilding year
In that goals post I said I had to find it in myself somehow to forgive myself that 2022 was going to be another rebuilding year. I feel like I have wasted so much time, I have watched the years go by, and every December sworn that the next year would be different and then it never was – or it was worse – and I grieve for that. I said that I hoped 2022 would give me the foundation so that I could then make 2023 my year. Tempting fate? Perhaps.
October is otherwise known as Preptober. It was the first full month I had lived in my new house, it was the first month in the quarter of trying to do this HB90 system. I wanted to give myself that solid foundation. I planned my steampunk trilogy, and specifically book one, ready to draft in November, but I also went through my accumulated writing courses. Some of them were more helpful than others but at the time I felt like I had learned things. Then reality hit me in the face when I started drafting as it was like I couldn’t hold onto what I had learned. I could do it in the exercises but I couldn’t apply it when I was trying to draft my story.
Revision is the most powerful learning exercise. I have joked that an old novel of my own that I revised and redrafted half a dozen times was my “university of writing” as tearing it to pieces repeatedly taught me more about the craft of writing than anything else. I think what I need to understand is that I haven’t revised a novel since 2016. Last year I wrote a novella, and the first 60% of a novel which I then finished this year. This year I finished that and wrote the first half of another novel (and poked at the cozy mystery). If I feel like I’m rusty and don’t know what I’m doing – that’s probably because it’s true.
I still have all my notes from the courses. What I really need to do is to revise those drafts. Perhaps when I’m not trying to conjure the story at the same time as the words, I will be able to fix the clunky prose. Then the more I do that, the more it will become second nature until I write better during a first draft. But I can’t really expect myself to be able to just do it, given that I am out of practice. It’s frustrating and sad – more lost time – but it is what it is.
I called my thread this year “What is Phase Two?” because it was a transition year. I was moving between one chapter in my life, to another. Mostly because of moving house but also because I hoped, maybe as part of that move, but that there would be a psychological step forward. A “past is past” type thing, where I could draw a line and have a fresh start.
Not going to lie I don’t feel like I entirely got that. The house is amazing. I couldn’t be happier with my setup but I am unfortunately still very much myself. I didn’t become a new person having moved, I still have my issues, and all my learned behaviour which I hate when it comes to lack of focus/procrastination. I tried to set myself up for success by separating my work and play environments, but that didn’t make as big a difference as I hoped for the work (but I am a very comfortable gamer now).
However, ultimately I did move forward this year – literally. I’m not ending the year where I would have liked. I suppose if we say I had hoped for 5 steps down the path, I only got 2 or 3 – but they were still steps. There’s that meme which says something like “small steppy is better than no steppy” and I repeat that to myself sometimes. I didn’t get what I wanted, or what I hoped, but I did make some progress.
Now I just need to look at where I am and formulate a plan for 2023.