Looking Back: 2020 Year in Review
Soon we’ll (gladly) say goodbye to 2020.It’s time to take a look at the Year in Review.
Last year at this time, I was in the processing of shutting down WindyCity Greek magazine. I struggled with that decision for a while, but once I made it, I felt free. I could take back my time, my schedule, and focus on my personal goals. Focus on my manuscript.
Armed with my 2020 goals, I rocked on into the New Year, ready to roll. After the ball dropped, excitement filled me. Though it took a while to completely shut down the magazine and get the archive site up and running, plus make changes to rebrand my personal website/blog, momentum grew.
In January, I took a fiction writing class, then an editing course. I made edits, some rewrites to the manuscript. Still not where it needed to be. I kept studying, kept working.
Then Covid. The word conjures up all sorts of emotions, feelings. If you’ve been following me, you know I lost my dad in June. I knew he’d catch it at his nursing home, but somehow, I thought he’d beat it. Two weeks and one day after we received his positive test result, we lost him. He would never have survived this long period of isolation. So I believe he’s in a better place. And reunited with my mom, I know he’s happy. But it derailed me, raised some roadblocks. It took some time to tear them down. But I kept going.
Did I accomplish everything I wanted to this year? NO. But as I recapped, I did more than I thought. Have you started yours? Keep reading for my list.
My 2020 Year in Review
#blog posts published: 17
#guest blogs: 1
#media articles published: 4
#essays written: 3
#”different” (not Greek) writing pieces: 3
#poems written: 1 (first time!)
#old essays reworked: 4
#manuscript drafts: 3
#newsletters sent: 12
#books read: 40
#writing/editing courses: 5
#Book Chats hosted: 4
#author takeovers: 1
#giveaways hosted: 6
#new book ideas: 3
Year in Review: My manuscript
This year, I did two rounds of edits and tightened up the manuscript. As summer hit, I started a new version. This 5th version is a more substantive edit. I made a goal to complete it by December 31. While I didn’t make it, this version is 75% complete. I’m thrilled how it’s taken shape. The story has really come alive, thanks to my writers group.
This summer, I joined an amazing group of women writers. Every Tuesday night I meet via Zoom with 5 writers from across the country. We share our goals, frustrations, knowledge, read and critique. Their suggestions, critiques, and gentle nudges have helped me bring the story to life. I saw the story so vividly in my head, but hadn’t translated it well to the page. With their help, I’m on a good track. This is the first time that anyone has read more than 3 chapters of the manuscript. To that point, I’d had only shared those first 3 chapters, in various iterations.
This version about 40% complete, I joined the group in late July. I submitted the first 3 chapters for critique. All sorts of questions came up: ‘What does Eleftheria look like?’ ‘What does she see?’ ‘What do her parents look like?’ etc. So I started back at page 1, and added details to bring the reader into Eleftheria’s world. Some weeks, the feedback is, “You got it! That was awesome!” And other weeks, “I’m not feeling it. I can’t connect.” And I continue to go back in and polish. Each week since late July, I’ve submitted chapters, received the peer reviews, then tweaked.
While I’m disappointed I didn’t complete this draft, I did make tremendous progress. As we got closer to Christmas, holiday preparations distracted me. Some days I felt overwhelmed. So I’ve taken a few days off, but this week, I’m diving back in. Then, after I finish this pass, I’m going though it one more time to tighten up some dialogue, and then I believe I will have a ready, pre-agented version. Then it’s onto the next step: Querying agents.
Year in Review: What else did I do?
- Grew my email list by 10%
- Launched new services
- Continued art classes ( stopped in September because they were on Zoom and kids were home attending classes on Zoom. And with husband also working on Zoom, someone always got knocked off. So I stopped. But I’m starting again in January. Can’t wait!)
- Submitted an essay to a literary magazine. While I’ve never done that before, and hope to do more in the future.
- Got a dog. Kleo is named for the Greek muse of history. You’ll laugh, my youngest balks when I call the dog my muse, but she’s inspired a lot of different writing than I typically do. And more than a handful of song parodies. 😉
I’ve already compiled my goals for 2021, but I’m leaving space for life to happen. Life does have a tendency to throw things at us, and I don’t want to set myself up for failure or discouragement if something doesn’t go as planned. This year, I want to take more time to just be. To live. to laugh. Have fun. Try new things.
How did you do?
It’s now time to recap your Year in Review. This is the 4th year I’ve done this, and I’m always surprised at how much I actually accomplished. Even in this crazy year, I did do a lot. How about you? Compile your list. I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Here’s to a happy, healthy, and fun New Year!
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