It’s something of a tradition now – towards the end of every year I post my goals for the year ahead on my blog to help me stay on track. As that year draws to a close I look back over those goals and see how many I achieved! 2020 has been a year like no other – memorable for many reasons! We have all had to dig deep to find our resilience, positivity and courage and I think in the most, we’ve done pretty well. So, what were my goals for 2020, set way before I had ever heard of Covid 19? And how many did I achieve? Read on to find out!
1 -The Goal : Achieve a successful, well-stocked, functional vegetable garden! Okay, might sound strange, but this is linked to my current state of mind. Being outside, doing dirty, outdoorsy things in the fresh air, especially things that have a positive impact are very, very good for me right now. The best thing I can do when I feel down is get outside. I’ve had a vegetable patch since we moved here ten years ago. Over the years it had got bigger and better and some years I have been very successful with daily harvests in the summer months and it has been great. The last few years have been a lot less productive for various reasons, but this year it’s my top goal. Weird I know, but more than any writing or work related goal, this is what I want to achieve the most. I’m not sure why other than that I know it does me good to be outside, I know I can do it because I’ve done it before and it might be a wise move what with all the Brexshit uncertainty! It just seems really important for some reason. I will be starting in January. Making plans and buying seeds and starting some off and weeding. I can’t wait. This really is going to be my top priority.
The Reality : Achieved! Well, thanks to Covid and the subsequent lockdowns, I achieved this quite well. Not as well as I should have done, but every year I grow a garden, I learn from my mistakes and improve on them for the year after. The garden was my saviour during lockdown. Throwing myself into every area of it was addictive and extremely mood-enhancing! So yes, I did pretty well with the vegetable plot and I still have some things growing out there now. I have also recently extended it for next year so I can grow even more!
2 – The Goal : Learn to play the guitar! Another goal not related to writing or work! But another one that suddenly feels very important. Perhaps because I’m increasingly aware of life passing me by, of running out of time and chances. Perhaps because I have always wanted to try. Perhaps because I so admire anyone that can play an instrument. Perhaps because my characters in the Holds End trilogy are playing instruments and writing their own music and it would also be research? Perhaps because my daughter has agreed to teach me and it will be a good thing to do together. I don’t know why. I just know it’s important and I am really excited about trying it.
The Reality : Not achieved. I actually made a good start with this goal. After Christmas last year I made time every Thursday to sit down with a YouTube video on my phone and learn to play the guitar. It was not easy at all – it certainly did not come naturally but I did begin to see progress….Then Covid…As soon as we went into Lockdown in March, I stopped trying. Partly due to the time and energy spent home-schooling my children and partly just due to my own mental health. There was enough to cope with! Will I pick it up again in 2021? I really don’t know.
3. The Goal : Release Emily’s Baby in the Spring – Doable. Emily’s Baby is the follow-up to A Song For Bill Robinson, the second book in the Holds End trilogy. It’s having a final round with beta readers at the moment and will have another few rounds of edits/proofreads with me after that but I anticipate a Spring release, perhaps April.
The Reality : Not achieved. Emily’s Baby is still waiting to be released! This had nothing to do with Covid. I had left Emily’s Baby on a cliffhanger and was working on the third book in the series, The Search For Summer. It suddenly occurred to me that it would work much better to release them close together. So Emily’s Baby was put to one side and I forged ahead with The Search for Summer. The good news is both books are ready to go in the New Year! I am currently finalising front covers and blurbs for both!
4. The Goal : Finish The Search For Summer – Doable. I am currently writing the first draft of this in a notebook and I’m three quarters through. It’s going well. I should easily finish the first draft by early 2020 and will then start the next million drafts and aim to release it towards end of 2020 or perhaps the start of 2021.
The Reality : Achieved! I finished the first draft and many, many subsequent ones. As mentioned above it is now as ready as Emily’s Baby and just awaiting a book launch plan, front cover and blurb! Yay!
5. The Goal : Finish Parts Five and Six of The Boy With The Thorn In His Side – These books are currently at draft number four. Next will be a read through on my Kindle, followed by another edit, and then it’s beta reader time. I’d like to think I will release them in 2020 but I think that’s too ambitious so I will just aim to finish them and be happy with them and plan a 2021 release for both books at the same time. It might be wise to finish the Holds End series first and get that promoted and then turn my attention back to this one.
The Reality : Achieved! I even published them! This series finished ahead of the Holds End series. I decided to combine parts 5 and 6 into one book, part 5 and released it in September 2020. I am so happy and proud that this long-running series is finally finished!
6. The Goal : Finish the first draft of the YA series I was working on… This refers to the post-apocalyptic YA series I started some time ago. The first draft was going very well for the first in a four book series but it got side-lined by The Boy series and the Holds End series…I hope to at least finish the first draft of book one in 2020.
The Reality : almost achieved! This got pushed aside as I scrambled to finish The Boy With The Thorn In His Side series and the Holds End series. As they were all so close to completion, it made sense to keep working and focusing on them. I am now back working on the YA series mentioned above and I am very close to finishing the first draft of Book 1! It could even happen before the end of 2020 so I am going to mark this as achieved!
7. The Goal : Do a second draft of YA novel We Hate The cool Kids – This was a book that jumped the queue in 2019. I wrote the first draft in a notebook pretty quickly but the ending troubled me. I don’t have any immediate plans to release this but I do think aiming for a second draft and a tied up ending would be good for 2020 depending on how things go.
The Reality : Nope! Sadly, this one has remained in it’s notebook and there has been no further progress. It’s nice knowing it is there though! A finished first draft waiting it’s turn.
8. The Goal : Continue working hard with Chasing Driftwood Writing Group – No specific goals this year for my little company. I have three new clubs starting after Christmas and this will keep me busy enough. Long term, I would like to get more writers on board to help deliver my ambition of encouraging children and adults to write and keep writing. I hope to get a community project off the ground finally but life is so busy and the after-school clubs take a lot of time and prep, so I am not going to put too much pressure on myself here. Just keeping it all going is enough of a goal
The Reality : It’s complicated! The start of 2020 was exciting for my little company as I doubled my writing clubs from three to six. And then…Covid. By March I had to stop all of the clubs and watched all my work disappear over night. I was absolutely gutted. And for a while I didn’t know how to react. There was home-schooling to deal with, the strict lockdown, four children’s mental health to consider as well as my own and I just didn’t have the time or the energy to deal with it. I watched enviously as so many other self-employed people rushed to get their businesses online and I just couldn’t do it. I considered quitting many times. But towards the end of the summer I got my act together, gave in and purchased Zoom and haven’t looked back. I now have five clubs, four on Zoom and one in person and once Covid finally slings its hook, I hope to have my physical clubs back AND keep the Zoom ones going. I am very near to finishing an online course for children and have planned many more online workshops and courses, all based on things I have run in person before. I also now have a business partner!! So there are now two of us throwing ideas around and generally keeping each other excited about the company.
9. The Goal : Keep adding stories and poems to a collection – I’m not putting a time scale on this next collection of short stories and poems, but I will try to keep adding to it and working on it when I feel the need!
The Reality : Achieved! I have added loads of stories and poems to this on-going collection. It’s starting to get quite big! I need to go over them all as some are newer and rougher than others, but I am pretty happy with it and hope to release it in 2021 after the next two Holds End books come out. I am genuinely excited as it’s quite a dark, strange and in some areas, personal collection!
10. The Goal : Slow down, enjoy life, breathe, cry, listen to more music, be outside as much as possible, be honest about my feelings and keep writing them down – a little jumble of goals and aims to end on, but perhaps these are what will make the others achievable. I’m only at the start of this perimenopause fun, and it’s knocked me for six. It’s brought back emotions, thoughts and anxieties I thought I had long walked away from. Sometimes it is genuinely exhausting getting through a normal day. Moods shift and change with no warning. Some days I feel totally normal. Other days I sit in the car and cry. It’s okay. I’m okay. I’ve just got to remember to talk about it, write about it and just allow it. It is what it is.
The Reality : Achieved. Well, I suppose I can thank Covid for this one thing. The pandemic forced us all to slow down, didn’t it? I’ll be honest – I kind of enjoyed the first lockdown. I didn’t have to go to work, I probably saved money because I wasn’t driving around all over the place every day, dropping everyone off and picking them up and going to my clubs. I was just at home. The weather was beautiful and our home and garden were appreciated like never before. Home-schooling was tough at times but it also brought me a lot of joy. My youngest was amazing, so resilient and cheerful – he was a little ray of sunshine throughout the whole thing, lifting all of our spirits. I made time for myself because I was worried about how I would react. I created a ‘sit-spot’ at the end of the garden just for me, a place to go and sit and read and drink coffee on my own. I started taking long baths at odd times of the day just to be on my own for a bit and it worked. I often let the tears come in the evening when I sat down to write, but that was okay. I needed to. I wrote loads of poems and stories and was honest with all of my family about how I was feeling. I did okay!
So, those were the goals I set myself at the end of 2019. Covid got in the way with some of them and actually helped me achieve others. I don’t yet know what I will put on my goals list for 2021… Of course, there will be some book releases but other than that, I’m not sure. This year really has changed everything and it’s quite hard now to look too far ahead or to try to plan anything. You just don’t know what is around the corner.
Did you set yourself any goals for 2020? How did you do? Did the pandemic help or hinder them? Let me know!