I didn’t meet any of my writing goals this year. Not even close.
First, I was supposed to have self-published my first poetry book in 2022. I have the rough draft in a binder on my desk, waiting for editing and formatting. It was going to be the biggest accomplishment of my writing career. But it’s still sitting there untouched in the corner of my desk where it’s been for months.
Then, I was supposed to submit at least one poem or short story to a contest or paid publication every month. I planned to make a little side of money with my writing, the little bits that I never knew what to do with. But I submitted only one, and I was declined for publishing. It was the only one I could get to this year.
Then, I was supposed to launch my full-time creative writing career. I was going to ditch the jobs that didn’t fulfill me and replace them with only freelance work that I enjoyed. My schedule was only to have writing that filled my soul and clients of similar creative mindsets. But I got desperate for money, and there wasn’t any time to explore. I took what I could get to pay the bills.
Lastly, I was supposed to have submitted a finished children’s book manuscript. I had an editor take a look at the work and overhaul the whole thing. I researched agents. I researched publishers. I made a list of non-agented calls for submission. But I didn’t get any further than that. That manuscript is right behind the dusty poetry bookbinder.
From the looks of it, I failed. I failed at every 2022 writing goal I set. And I probably should be wallowing away in self-pity and shame at the fact that I really didn’t even get close to ANY of them.
But I’m not a failure. My goals don’t tell the whole story. Not even close.
My goals didn’t consider any of the trials and tribulations I underwent in 2022 or the emotional, psychological, and physical baggage I acquired from them. They didn’t show the end of a ten-year relationship with three kids. Nor did they show financial and employment struggles, housing insecurity, or a loss of an entire support system. They didn’t show the chaos of court and custody and child support, woven among the struggle of everyday life. They didn’t show a new relationship, a new home, or a new way of life.
The results of my goals didn’t show a mom who writes, turning her life upside, shaking the hell out of it, and spending all year trying to put the pieces back together in a different picture. They only showed I finished nothing and checked nothing off.
I’ll tell you what—I’m not ashamed.
In our group, we talked a lot about the done list, and my done list busted through the seams this year every day. Sure, many of the completed things were unrelated to creative writing, but they sure were essential to keeping my life together.
I’ve struggled a lot this year, but I’m beyond proud of the person I’ve become. So what to do with my writing goals for 2023? Try again.
Everything I wanted to do last year is still there, left unchanged by time, unlike most other things in life. Words are patient and forgiving of absence. They are ready to support you when you feel safe and secure enough to give it another go.
I’m not holding myself to a high bar this year regarding my writing, but that doesn’t mean I won’t still have goals. I’ll carry my old goals into the new year and know I’m doing my best. The best for the period of life I’m in. It’s just my time to live the story instead of writing it.
About the Writer: Shell Sherwood is a poet, fiction writer, freelancer, and creator of silly children’s stories who could live on coffee, pastries, and romantic tragedies. She lives in Hudson Valley, NY, with her three boys and aspires to own a small writing getaway in every climate. Shell is currently working on her debut poetry collection. Learn more about Shell and follow her writing journey via her author blog, Instagram, and TikTok.
Book Highlight: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
I keep highlighting this book. First, because I love it. Second, it was one of the only books I read this year…another goal not met! But it was worth it, and it taught me so much about my creative self. Highly recommend.
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