2020: My Year as a Writer
This is my second year participating in Julie Hedlund’s 12 Days 4 Writers Challenge. What were my writing successes and failures over the past year? My surprises and learnings? What changes did I go through as a writer in 2020? And how will they affect me in 2021? I’d like to share an overview of my 2020 writing year.
As per Julie’s suggestions, each day I watched one of her videos and reflected on the topic of the day. Then I read my journal entry of the same topic from a year ago. Some days I was in perfect sync with who I was back then. Other times it's like I was conversing with someone I used to be.
During these exercises I breezed through the "surprises" reflection but choked at the thought of listing my "successes". At first I was hesitant to list anything. After all, I didn’t find an agent or publisher for any of my writing projects. But then I came up with a few positive developments and I could see more clearly. I had a worthwhile year.
One of my goals for 2020 was to “publish more blog posts” and I certainly did. Between the book reviews, poems, memoire and writing reflections I wrote seventeen blog posts this year compared to six the year before. I also wrote blog posts for Birdshot Uveitis Society of North America , a not-for-profit I helped start (via ZOOM!) this past spring. Subscribers to my writer website increased fivefold, and if you count both blogs, a few thousand people read the pieces I’d written. CONCLUSION: I’m further along my writerly journey than I was a year ago.
I discovered this year that I like to write about a certain type of person. Whether kid-lit and historical fiction for adults, I have been writing stories about people who follow a different path than the one they were born into. So what if she wants to go where only men have gone? So what if he’s just an uneducated shopkeeper? So what if he’s only one person? I write about people with purpose who see things from a larger perspective than most. They do not conform; rather they create their own path. CONCLUSION: I’m finding my own niche in the writing world.
As for “love” from agents and editors in 2020, I had a few positive responses – a “heart” on a Twitter contest, an invitation to resubmit, and a few champagne rejections or complimentary responses to a query. CONCLUSION: There have been a few noteworthy encouragements.
I also engaged more in the kid-lit world. Given that I've been writing more nonfiction picture book manuscripts than fiction, I found a critique group of other experienced NF kidlit writers and we’re fast becoming important sounding boards for each other. I’m also part of a few larger writing groups – Julie Hedlund’s 12x12 Picture Book Challenge, and SCBWI. I am stunned
at the magnitude and kindness of the kidlit writing community. During the quarantine so many successful authors have made themselves available to aspiring authors with online workshops and classes. Agents, editors and other writers participate on social media. We have fun taking part in challenges and contests, in everyday conversations and important social dialogues as well. As they say, mastery follows 10,000 hours of learning. CONCLUSION: Like many other writers, I spend an abundance of time encouraging writers and honing my craft.
And then there’s my original writing project. Every time I decide to grow one of the characters in my historical novel I know it’s getting closer. I have an editor and hope to have my latest version to her within a couple of months. I hope I can begin to submit to an agent in 2021. CONCLUSION: My novel is coming together in new ways. It deserves to become a priority.
It’s a challenge to follow through on all these projects – I want to keep nurturing each one of them. But hey, balance is essential. My writing is important, as are other aspects of my life. Like the subjects of my kid-lit biographies, I must live my own authentic life. Things will happen when they’re meant to.
That said, I've chosen my word for 2021. It is hope. It applies to both my personal life and to my writerly life.
In the last few days of this "12days4writers" challenge, I'll be setting goals and figuring out how to implement them. Thank you Julie for welcoming me back this year and I hope to participate yet again at the end of 2021. In the meantime I'll see you on 12x12!
As I hang a new calendar on my wall I do so with gratitude for all of you - family members, friends, writers and readers - who are casting their light on my path. I appreciate the time you spend reading my poems and essays, as well as your comments, likes and website subscriptions. Wishing each of you a healthy and satisfying new year!