Tuesday, December 31, 2019

I Did It! 2019 and Decade-In-Review Edition

For the past six years, I've tracked my annual accomplishments via an annual I Did It! list, originally inspired by writer Lisa Romeo. Previous posts can be found here: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013. It's very easy to get to the end of the year and see all the goals you did not achieve, so this is an opportunity to celebrate the ones you did … and some other non-goals that you hit as well. First I'll give you my 2019 list, then we'll talk about the 2010s as a whole.

This is me, wondering why it's so hard to climb to the top of this writing business.
Writing I Did Its!
This year I felt pretty stuck in quicksand, writing-wise. I had a lot of big goals, but not a lot of forward momentum. Let's see how that shook out, by the numbers:
  • Submissions: 8
  • Acceptances: 1
  • Short Lists: 1
  • Rejections: 12
  • Publications: 3, as follows:
"Persistence Is the Thing with Fins" A Dangerous New World: Maine Voices on the Climate Crisis, December 2019"A Conversation with Caitlin ShetterlyLiterary Mama, January 2019"Confluence" This Side of the DivideFebruary 2019
Okay, well, the numbers confirm that stuck-in-quicksand sensation. Dang. One of those submissions was the proposal for my book, which took all summer to write and therefore took time away from other writing and submitting activitites, so there is that, and I did work an awful lot of overtime between January and June, which didn't leave a lot of time or energy for writing or submitting. Let's see some more positive writing news.
  • I reinvigorated my newsletter, sending out 17 issues since June, when I attempted to relaunch as a weekly missive. I've since scaled back to "twice-monthly-ish."
  • I tried to reinvigorate my blog, and wrote 68 posts (including this one) over the year, which is a pretty low number, but 27 more than last year, and more than half of them I wrote during the last three months, the period of reinvigoration.
  • I did another big revision of my book and wrote a book proposal which I've sent to one publisher.
  • I attended three writerly events: a presentation on novel writing, a poetry festival, and a crime writing conference.
  • I attempted to make contact with other writers, sending emails to two writers whose books, in my genre, I enjoyed, contacting two Maine-based writers and becoming "friends" with them via social media, and making one real-life writing friend.
Travel and Adventure I Did Its!
We didn't get out a whole lot this year, but we did manage a week in DC, which was terrific. E and I went to Boston for a day, E, Z and I went on a weekend camping trip with friends, I did some toodling around on local ponds in my new kayaks, and I took sailing lessons. C, Z, E and I also hiked the Precipice Trail up Champlain Mountain in Acadia National Park in October, which felt like a major accomplishment for my elderly body (see photo above). We also did a lot of local touristing and micro-adventures when my parents were visiting in the fall, and C and I went to two super-fun concerts (Howard Jones and Rick Springfield!!!) at a local winery, which I count as adventures.

Art and Craft I Did Its!
I'm pretty happy with my knitting results from this year, which I'll share at the end of this week. I also  finish-finished (as in bound off) my jeweled squares quilt, made an infinity scarf, made three fleece skirts and then three more, gave new life to an ugly old table with a coat of purple paint, and made a dozen sparkly little houses. I also did some drawing and watercoloring and taught a nature journaling workshop.

Household I Did Its! 
I focused a lot this year on giving our house a little spa treatment. I (with some help) repainted E and Z's room and, some months later, cleaned, repainted, and organized their closet. I also (again with help) patched and repainted the stair walls and (without much help) cleaned and decluttered the whole house above ground level (basement, I'm looking at you in 2020), none of which rated a blog post I guess. I had written that I need less clutter in my life when I was working on last year's goals, and I think I achieved that (above ground level) this year.

2010s Decade in Review

Writing I Did Its!
These numbers are approximate and mostly post-2014.
  • Submissions: ~128
  • Acceptances: ~ 21
  • Rejections: ~93
  • Publications: ~56 (not sure why acceptance and pub numbers are so out of alignment)
  • Blog Posts: ~932
  • Books Written: 1
I also got my MFA in 2014 and have been volunteering as Literary Reflections editor and senior editor at Literary Mama for about 5 years, and I taught a couple of nature writing workshops locally. And I got to spend a week at an artists' colony, where I worked on the first revision of my book.

That's all really great, but I started writing in earnest in 2005, started a print zine and took my first writing class in 2006, started this blog in 2007, started grad school in 2012 … and it just feels like I should have made more progress in all that time. Granted, I also gave birth to two babies in 2005, but they're nearly six feet tall now; shouldn't my writing career be a lot bigger too?

Travel I Did Its!
One of my greatest joys in life and the thing I always want to do more of is travel. I tend to think that we don't do much of it, but while there might not be a lot of variety in our traveling, we've gone on some pretty cool trips over the last decade.

Family Trips:
Just Me Trips
There was also a lot of local Maine travel, hikes, boat trips, etc. over those years, and I spent some weekends away with friends and went on several bird-watching adventures.

Art and Craft I Did Its!
Other Life I Did Its!
  • Trained to become a Maine Master Naturalist and joined the MMNP board of directors.
  • Raised my kids from 8 and 4 years to 18 and 14, saw them graduated from middle school and high school, and sent one off to college.
This is supposed to be a positive post, but I can't look back on the last decade without pointing out that the 2010s were a complete bust professionally, a total failure, in terms of income, advancement, development, the whole shebang. I started the decade working maybe not my dream job but doing work that was interesting, challenging, and dear to my heart; now I make less money per hour than I did 10 years ago, and I'm basically just biding my time, adding to my retirement, waiting for my summers off, when we go broke but at least I get to hang out with my kids, write, and do some things I enjoy doing. My 30s-40s decade, the one where I *should* have been advancing in a career, was a crater, and, unless I can turn writing into something more than a really time-consuming hobby, it's likely that I'll never have a career or professional fulfillment. 

But, other than professional failure and painfully slow progress in writing, it's been a pretty great decade. What are you celebrating this New Year's Eve?

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