Many writers keep track of their progress during the year. They tally up their acceptances and their rejections. Or, they look back on the goals they made at the beginning of the year and examine how successful they were at meeting those goals. Most of them have Excel spreadsheets or even a cat calendar where they keep track.
Not Sioux. Sioux is more fast and loose, less organized, more loosey-goosey than that. Even though I love writing, I teach full-time. Writing is--unfortunately--only a part-time thing for me. In the evening when I hit the threshold of my home, the bra is coming off and the sweatpants are coming on. I'm too exhausted to spend too much time beating myself up over the goals I'm not meeting (which might explain why I don't have a book out there or why my work only appears in a couple of publications).
So my year-end rack-up is going to look vastly different than
- I finally rowed to the shore after months and months and months of sailing down the river denial. I had a manuscript that I was hopeful about.
Optimism A writer's love of their own work A severe head injury sustained by beating my head against my desk repeatedlyBeing too close to the forest to see that the trees had all been burned down, deep down, I wondered if it was the most fabulous thing that had ever been written. A little closer to the surface, I wondered if it stunk. I gave it to a couple of writing friends. They said, "Suckola" in a very kind way. I sent it to blogging friend Shay who also said, "Suckola, big time," but also in a constructive and kindhearted manner.
I now have a doorstop I spent a couple of years on. However, as I wrote it, I got some free
therapy and got to heal over a family issue I'd been grappling with for several years. Put a
tally mark under the "win" and a tally mark under the "loss" column for that one.
- I've meant to foray out and submit to other markets. Literary magazines. Publications put out by AAA and AARP. I've even been to workshops about how to crack various markets. However, I haven't done diddly-squat about it yet, so that's another tally mark under "loss."
- After a concentrated effort, I've started using ellipsis less frequently in my writing. In the past and in some of my stories, I've relied on that bit of punctuation
seven oreighteen times in each paragraph. Recently, I've gotten so conscientious about it, some of my pieces have not even one set of ellipsis.
Oh, who am I kidding? I haven't given up those dot-dot-dots nor have I slowed down on
them. But I have thought about it, so I'm gonna put a little tally mark under "win" for that
one since it's the thought that counts, right?
- I have a NaNoWriMo from 2016 that I'm now revising. That's one for the "win" column. However, I keep saying I'm going to actively hunt down an elderly person to get some help on some of the details. (The story takes place in 1921.) Just like I've done nothing to break into a different market, I've done nothing to find a historical consultant, so I'm going to have to make a mark under "loss" as well.
- In 2017 I got a story called "My Ferguson" published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Kind (of) America. It had been a while since I'd gotten anything accepted by them, so that's a "win" and it was a story I'd tried to get published for quite a while, so by the way I count, that's another "win." (See how my creative math makes this a more positive process?) Some stories matter to us more than others, and this particular tale was quite important to me. Before President Trump was elected, he said that "Ferguson is one of the most dangerous cities in the world." I worked in Ferguson, and knew this was not true. In my story, I was able to share what the real Ferguson is like...
- I got to show off my funny. Years ago, I was part of one of the St. Louis Listen to Your Mother shows. My piece was a heartbreaking story about my search for my birth mother. In 2017 I was part of the show again, but this time I got to tell a humorous story about my tatted-up son. Getting people to laugh is quite satisfying, I must say. Since I was one of only two writers who's been in the show twice, I'm going to put two tally marks under the "win" column.
So, as I tabulate the tally marks, I see three under the "loss" column and 116 under the "win" column. (What can I tell you? Math was my worst subject, followed closely by science. But sometimes, ineptitude can be a good thing.)
Which means I need your help. What goals do you think I should set for 2018? I really would like to do better--writing-wise--this next year... but I need your assistance.
Sioux Roslawski is an unorganized freelance writer who sometimes does more thinking than doing. She'd appreciate a nudge or a push or a jab with an electric cattle prod from you, so please leave what goals she should set in the comments section, and if you'd like to read more of her stuff, you can check out her blog.