Retrospective on 2020, in Writing and Reading Goals

The days after Christmas but before New Year's Eve are always a little hazy on the calendar. They're days where even my father, who spends his normal Saturdays in the yard working from dawn to dusk it seems, sleeps in (til 6 a.m.) and takes it marginally slower than normal.


I never want to do anything during those days. I don't want to travel, or hang out, or even go out to eat. I just want to sit at home with my book (or TV, let's be real) and I want to read, write, and consume food and media in equal ungodly measures.


I don't know why I started this post out like this, because this post isn't about the hazy days between Christmas and New Year's; it's about all the dreadful days between Jan 1., 2020 and today. It's a reading and writing retrospective.


At the beginning of this year I wrote a post about my 2020 reading and writing and life goals. Let's revisit those and see how this year kicked me in the butt, shall we?


Edit and ultimately query last year's novel


Lol at this one.


To be fair, I did finish editing the novel (Allie Mae Doesn't Get the Guy), which I've been writing and rewriting, on and off, since 2016. I just didn't really query it because a few weeks after finishing it for what I hoped was the last time, I...realized I needed to add anywhere from 10-15k words in a "part three". Which I did! And to be honest, I don't regret that. I think that addition really enhanced the novel and I can't wait to sit down with it toward the end of January/beginning of February and reread the whole thing with fresh eyes — again.


Oh, and to be fair as well, I did think at one point I was ready to query Allie Mae.

But this was before I realized I needed a part three. So. That was a fail.


Finish a draft of this year's novel


Lol at this one, too.


I made it maybe 12,000 words into the novel I was talking about, known to me as #OCDGirl, before realizing...this isn't going to work out this way. So I put it aside and focused on Allie Mae again. And once I finished that, I decided to dive into NaNoWriMo with a new story, which I call 🍦WIP (WIP = work in progress).


I made it about 15,000 words into that by mid-November and haven't made much progress since.


So yeah. You could say that finishing a novel has ... been a struggle of late.


But that's not just 2020's fault. I haven't finished a novel since the first draft of Allie Mae, sometime back in early 2017, I think it was. Turns out it's hard to work full-time, be depressed, edit a novel, and draft a new one. Especially if I want to read (I do), hang out with friends (also want that), and have a hobby outside of the things I do for work (I would like this but tbh I have no other skills so what even is there to do).


Read at least 30 books


Finally, a goal I completed! As of today, I have read 43 books as part of my Goodreads challenge (and I'm a little over halfway through two more and hoping I can just put my head down and finish them up asap).


I'm really pleased with that number. Could I have read more this year? Undoubtedly.


Is that more than I read in the past two years, and do I intend to carry this momentum into 2021 and read even more than this year? Absolutely.


This year I feel like I just rediscovered the joy in books. I didn't finish books I didn't want to finish, and I dove into some absolutely stunning stories, from Legendborn, Tracy Deonn's YA contemporary fantasy debut, to my fifth Sandhya Menon book 10 Things I Hate About Pinky, to belatedly starting the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series via audiobook.


It was a great reading year — according to Goodreads' Year in Books, I rated my reads a 4.5 on average. The first book I left a review for was Don't Read the Comments by Eric Smith, a book about something I'm supremely uninterested in (gaming) that somehow suckered me in emotionally to the fullest extent.



Write poems, essays, and author interviews


Well, I did the last one. I've been writing anywhere from two to three author profiles a month for We Need Diverse Books' blog, and it's honestly been one of the things this year that has brought me the most joy. I've gotten to chat on the phone, via Zoom, or by email with some truly incredible authors, whose words have inspired me and whose messages on the importance of diversity in literature for children are so meaningful.


And I guess I've done some of the middle one, too. Not to the extent I wanted, and I still feel like maybe if I took a class or something on writing short nonfiction it would help me a lot, because I don't think I've improved my nonfiction writing since graduating college all those years ago.


Poems, though? Totally forgot about those. For 2021, maybe.


Make writer friends in-person and online


This was a lot harder to do, but you know? 2020 was a hard year for making friends, at least for me. There are people I got to know this year, though, whose presence in my life has been a light. And for next year, I don't want to just focus on making new friends; I want to keep cultivating the friendships I already have, reignite some that have fallen by the wayside.


I love my writer friends so much.


Wrap-up


Well. I failed a lot of things this year, but I did well on a few others. And I guess that's normal, all things considered. I'm not too worried about it.


Stay tuned next week for insight into my goals for 2021!


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