2022: A Retrospective

It’s time to reflect as these short, dark days creep irresistibly toward the close of another year. This time of year always feels like the days are literally shorter—not just fewer daylight hours, but somehow actually less time on the clock. I reminisce about the lists of things I accomplished in single days earlier in the year and marvel that I had the energy when now, I’m in pyjamas by 7:30 and struggling to keep my eyes open.

I started the year with a few simple goals with respect to my writing.

  1. Maintain a consistent routine of posting here, on my blog.
  2. Submit my work to a different literary publication each month.
  3. “Read broadly, read outside my genre, read to fuel my creativity and hone my craft.”
  4. Stop procrastinating and EDIT MY NOVEL.

It has been a weird year. I’m just putting that out there. Returning to an in-person existence has been… Interesting? Traumatic? Exciting? Anxiety-inducing? All of the above. I miss the slower simplicity of lockdown, while recognizing how essential it is to have meaningful in-person connections. Going back to some things felt like slipping on a familiar, cozy, well-worn pair of shoes. Others felt a little more like a stiff and starchy brand-new pair of jeans, a size too small and incredibly uncomfortable.

That said, as the close of this year approaches, I find I’m somewhat dissatisfied with what I accomplished this year. My aim was to focus more intently on completing my novel, which required putting flash fiction firmly on the back burner. As a result, I wrote less short fiction, submitted less short fiction, and consequently had fewer pieces accepted to be published. This would feel less disappointing if I had made meaningful progress on my novel, but it seems to be stagnating. Distraction abounded this year, and I feel the need to remind myself of some of the things I can be proud of, hiding amongst the weeds.

Goal # 1:

Achieved. I have posted consistently every Tuesday of 2022. Some of the pieces I am astonishingly proud of. My Canadian submissions opportunities posts (Part One and Part Two) were wildly popular and continue to draw traffic to my site. My essay, Learning Facts From Fiction, is a subject quite close to my heart. I developed and shared several new recipes. I released some poetry for the first time in years: Darkness Lingers, Candy Floss Concerns, and New Beginnings are a few of my favourites. And the best of all the flash fiction I published this year? The Girl Who Screamed in the Night or I Am The Deafening Silence. Don’t make me choose.

Goal # 2:

Achieved. I have submitted my work 26 times this year, each month trying a new publication that I had never submitted to before. I had 20 rejections and 3 acceptances, and 6 pieces are still waiting for results (Yes, the math does add up. I started 2022 with 3 rejections in the first week of January that were leftover subs from 2021). I’m proud of myself for branching out and sending my work further afield, especially for submitting a non-fiction piece for the first time ever and having it published in Blank Spaces Magazine. And of course, I was delighted to find out that my short story Not All Sparks Start Fires was selected to be published in the upcoming Small Town Summer Nights anthology.

Goal # 3:

The jury’s still out. I didn’t read as much as I intended. Life gets in the way. Netflix gets in the way. I did, however, step outside of my genre and read a couple of fantastic romcoms from Sarah Grunder Ruiz. My favourite read this year was the historical fiction masterpiece, All the Light We Cannot See. I had the pleasure of reviewing a couple of ARCs as well, which was a fun new adventure. I also found room in my budget to subscribe to a couple of printed lit mags, which I think is so important (if it’s financially feasible).

Goal # 4:

Undecided. I did a complete rewrite of my manuscript, changing it from third to first person. That’s a big deal. But then it stagnated. And then Shiny Thing Syndrome took over, and I wrote a draft of another sequel during NaNoWriMo. Will 2023 be the year I finally finish my first novel? I really, really hope so. More on this in next week’s post.

There is no doubt I have things to be proud of this year. I do have some lingering wistfulness, but I’m trying to focus on the positive—I enjoyed writing. Two 12-hour writing intensives hosted by Chicken House Press were an absolute highlight. NaNoWriMo 2022 was a joy. Friday mornings writing and sipping cappuccino at Chickadee Landing were such a treat. The 100 Days of Writing Challenge with Sarah and the gang at Writers’ HQ was a chaotic adventure. I think I grew as a writer, and I know I enjoyed the process.

I suppose that’s entirely the point.

“You’re not going to be a writer someday. You’re a writer today. Discipline yourself to write and take time to enjoy writing. Do it a lot. Have fun with it. Begin now.”

Jack Heffron

Published by Aly Writes

I bake. I write. What goes better together than a good story and a delicious fresh-baked pastry? Nothing. And I can give you both. Grab a hot cuppa and join me.

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