It’s that time of year again!! It’s time to look back on my stated goals for 2021 and see how well I did with them. Every year in January I write down a list of goals for the year ahead and every year in December I reflect back and see how many I achieved. So, here goes!
Goal 1: Do even better in the vegetable plot Improving how much food we grow ourselves was top of my list of goals last year and it is again for 2021. There are so many reasons why this is important to me but I think the main reason is mental health. Gardening absolutely saved my sanity during the first lockdown and home-schooling. It’s addictive. It burns more calories than just about any other exercise and getting dirty is good for you physically and mentally. I could go on and on about how amazing it makes me feel to spend time in the garden, but I think you probably get it. Towards the end of this season I extended the plot and I am still popping in there whenever I can to keep on top of weeds and to add mulch and manure. I cannot wait to start sowing again!
Reality: Achieved?? I did better in some areas and failed miserably in others! As usual I fell into the trap of forgetting to replant as much as I should have. I did really well with potatoes, carrots, pumpkins, lettuce, and curly kale, as well as onions, garlic and leeks! My raspberries and strawberries really let me down this year. Perhaps they were having a year off. My tomatoes were not great either and just like every other year, my cauliflower and broccoli got eaten by caterpillars. I had fun though. The plot provided me with many happy hours enjoying the outdoors and I can’t wait to get stuck into it again soon!
Goal 2: Publish the next two books in the Holds End Trilogy – This should happen. Emily’s Baby and The Search For Summer are both good and ready to go. They need formatting for ebook and paperback, they need their back cover blurbs finalised and they need front covers. All these things are in motion and I hope to release them early next year, possibly February and March.
Reality: Achieved! The whole trilogy is out now!
Goal 3: Revamp and re-release Bird People and Other Stories – This little short story collection needs a makeover. I have already contacted my designer about revamping the front cover and my proofreader is going to go over all the stories after I have. This shouldn’t take long and I hope to re-release it in April.
Reality: Achieved! Yes it has a brand new cover and has been professionally edited and proofread and is just much, much better. The only thing I haven’t yet got around to is sorting out the updated paperback version!
Goal 4: Finish and release my short story and poetry collection The Old Friend and Other Strange Tales and Poems (working title!!)– This collection just keeps growing and growing but at some point I need to call time on it and get it out there! I will get the same designer to do the cover so that it compliments Bird People and of course there will be several rounds of edits and proofreads before it is ready, so I hope to release it towards the end of the Summer, perhaps July or August.
Reality: Not achieved. I’m nearly there with this one. It is finished and it has been edited and proofread and I have contacted the designer about the front cover. It will be released in 2022 as soon as the cover is ready, so I was close!
Goal 5: Start the second draft to my current WIP The Day The Earth Turned- Book One – I am very close to finishing the first draft and really hope to have it done by the end of 2020…so the next step for this one would be a second draft. I was tempted to dive straight into writing book two, but as this is such a complex and challenging book to write (more on that another time!) I now feel going back over Book One would be beneficial before I start Book Two. There are already bits I want to change, for example.
Reality: Achieved! I’ve actually gone above and beyond the goal I set for myself with this one. Not only did I finish the second draft of book one, I wrote the second, third and fourth books too! The first three are now all at fourth draft status, and I’m currently on draft two of the final book four. I am then going to go back to the start for some major rewriting so I still don’t know when this series will be ready to release, but I am so pleased I got on so well and actually wrote the whole damn thing!
Goal 6: Move things forward with Chasing Driftwood Writing Group – now that I have a creative partner, I am really excited about the CIC changing and growing in 2021. We have some exciting plans in motion which we will talk about very soon. Lots and lots of things in the pipeline – so I really hope that after the disaster of 2020 where thanks to Covid I barely earned a thing, I can finally start to see the hard work pay off in 2021.
Reality: Achieved! 2021 kicked off with another lockdown and another stint of home schooling, which as you can imagine was a lot harder in the Winter months. But we got through it and second time around I had all my Zoom writing clubs ready to take over where we couldn’t meet physically. Things got better after that and I now have seven kids writing clubs on the go, most of which are full, and some of which have waiting lists! We also started a subscription service for adults and kids and got three online writing courses completed for children. On top of all of that we put together a pandemic themed anthology and published it under our brand new imprint, Chasing Driftwood Books! Stay Home – A Year of Writing Through Lockdown is a collection of personal essays, short stories and poems on the lockdown experience. We were lucky enough to have some amazing writers contribute to the anthology and it has done really well! The money raised from sales will go towards funding our next community writing project.
Goal 7: Carry on writing the screenplay version of The Boy With The Thorn In His Side – this is a project I recently started and it’s not a priority. It can’t be, with all the other things going on! But if I have a spare moment in the week, I do enjoy getting back to this. It’s really challenging and fun turning a book into a screenplay and of course, it would be my absolute dream come true to see the series turned into a TV series.
Reality: Not achieved. I didn’t touch this once! In fact I can’t even remember the name of the free scriptwriting software I was using to write it! There just isn’t time for this as well sadly, not when the list of books I want to write and publish keeps growing longer. Maybe one day.
Goal 8: Get better at promoting my books! – I have been shockingly bad at this in 2020. Sometimes I go weeks or even months without so much as tweeting a link. I really need to come up with a plan and stick to it. I think I will get a separate notebook just for promotional activities and ideas and make a load of lists to tick off. This should motivate me a bit more and keep me on track.
Reality: Somewhat achieved? Okay, I didn’t really put a plan together and I have still had moments of ignoring marketing BUT I have been far more consistent. I try to post a few book related things every day and never go more than a day without posting at all. I can’t afford to pay for any advertising so I have to stick to the free things such as blogging and using social media. I think I have definitely been better and my sales have been a tad better too, but there is still much room for improvement here!
Goal 9: Keep adding notes to other book ideas… – I was tempted to add ‘finishing some almost ready books’ to this goals list but I think I would be setting myself up to fail. I got over half way through a first draft of the sequel to The Mess Of Me recently but then decided The Day The Earth Turned had waited long enough and I wouldn’t let The Mess Of Us jump the queue….In 2019 I wrote the first draft of a YA novel with the working title We Hate The Cool Kids. I would also love to tackle a second draft of this but again, it will have to wait. And then there is the spin-off book from The Boy With The Thorn In His Side series…in the fifth book I introduced two characters called Alfie and Tom. They took on a life of their own and I started to plan a spin-off book for them. I’ve actually written fourteen chapters of it in a very small notebook and they are always in my head! But no, no, no, The Day The Earth Turned series and my two collections will take priority in 2021! I have to draw a line somewhere! I will, however, keep adding notes to these books whenever I think of something. They are all very much alive and crowding my head and their time will come.
Reality: Achieved! As I said above, The Day The Earth Turned really had to take priority in 2021 and I made sure that it did. I did not write anymore of The Mess Of Me sequel and I did not get to the second draft of We Hate The Cool Kids. I did however write up the hand-written chapters I’d started for The Boy With The Thorn In His Side spin-off book and then carried on writing it. I haven’t focused on it for a few months now because I really got going with The Day The Earth Turned, but I definitely kept adding to the notes for it. I also started a zombie apocalypse story in a notebook which I will get back to one day AND I co-wrote a trilogy of YA supernatural books with my business partner Sim Sansford! These need a lot more editing and work but we hope to release book one in 2022!
Goal 10: Continue to Practice Self-Care – it wasn’t until the perimenopause set in last year, followed by Covid 19, that I realised how bad I am at looking after myself. I’m talking about really small, simple things – the small pleasures that calm you down and make you smile, like long baths with a good book and a drink of wine! I started making more of an effort in 2020 and I will carry this on. I will insist on time for myself in this busy, hectic life and I will make sure I get it.
Reality: Achieved! I’ve definitely got better at self-care. It’s been quite a tough year in some ways, but for me personally, I feel stronger. In fact I have planned a future for me and my husband that is about as stress free as you can get and I intend to make sure we achieve it. More on that another time!