WriYe 2021: Year in Review

Another year has come and gone again
Look around and think where have you been
Can’t believe it’s that time of year again
Can you believe the life you led?
Did you achieve the goals you set?
Did you lose your mind?
Another year has come and gone again
Look around and wonder what happened

Sick Puppies – That time of year

This year I called my WriYe progress thread ‘Try Everything’ as to be honest I was that desperate to make some progress, that’s what I was willing to do. When I made my yearly goals I tried to be realistic, and I put as a subheading ‘starting small and dreaming higher’ because that was my intent. I had to balance what I wanted in my heart, with what was possibly practical (and I have never been good at judging that).

I set my initial WriYe target as 75k because that was the bare minimum. I knew I was going to be writing fanfic but I wanted 75k (aka a full length draft of an original novel). I also wanted to make progress with my art and – yet again – I set the goal of doing a drawing a month. If I look back at the goal post I made and quote myself, I said “What I want the most from 2021 is to make progress, to move forward, to finally get somewhere. There is nothing I want more than to get to the end of December in 2021 and type up a yearly review, and to list all the things I accomplished. I want that glow of satisfaction, of being able to feel like yes I did something good. I don’t want to get through another year and feel like I wasted the time again. Like I said I really want to feel like I made progress.”

So did I meet those goals?

Yes and no is the simple answer.

The long answer is that I did write more than 75k of original fiction BUT I didn’t finish what I would call a full length novel draft. I wrote a novella (just over 50k) and I wrote most of a novel (60k and counting) but crucially I didn’t finish that novel draft. So in my heart I feel like I failed, I didn’t achieve what I wanted. Why didn’t I achieve it? Well last years struggle of feeling like I’ll “never be good enough” did rear it’s head again. Also I committed the foolish mistake of taking a break from the draft which is sheer insanity as I know full well that is a big no-no. I’ve done it before, more than once, and you’d really think I’d have learned by now but apparently not. In my defence it wasn’t entirely my fault, I lost access to a computer for three weeks but that’s an excuse not a reason.

I apparently wrote best part of 210,000 words of fanfic. I completed a variety of oneshots, and a few longer chaptered works, so there’s that. I did write a lot this year, more than I’ve written since 2016 when everything started to go wrong. In terms of my art goals I definitely did not do a drawing per month, I think if I’m generous I can say I did 6 big drawings (4 digital + 2 on paper). However, the art did develop in ways I didn’t necessarily expect. I started 2021 doing ‘Sketch a Day’ which got me doing art on paper for the first time, and I’m now the owner of a lot of art supplies and an online coloured pencil course. I feel like with the art I’m where I was with the writing in 2020 – panic attacks when I try and do it. I feel like I’ll never get where I want to go, that I’ll “never be good enough” and I’m just too demoralised to even try. I realise that’s ridiculous and I won’t improve without practice but as I’ve said before – panic doesn’t understand logic.

So 2021 was a step in the right direction but I don’t really feel like I made progress, I don’t feel that “glow of satisfaction” that I so desperately wanted. Perhaps that’s because I’m ending the year on a very low note. I haven’t written since October 7th when everything started to go wrong again… or perhaps to put it another way – when everything started to change.

At some point in 2022 I’m going to be moving house. Precisely when depends on when somebody buys our house, and then how long the paperwork takes to go through. My current guesstimate is sometime in May/June but we’ll see. We also need to find somewhere. We had found a few places but then our house didn’t sell, so everything we’ve liked has gone, and I’m not continuing to look as that’s just disheartening. I’ll look again when we have a buyer. When we move it’ll be the start of a new chapter in my life because I’ll be moving to a place of my own (currently I live with mum and her husband). It’ll be so good to have my own space, so the future is looking bright when it eventually happens – I just have to get through this awkward transition part first.

To get back to the writing I’m going to be ending the year with about 325k written. I keep detailed records and I wrote 146/365 days this year which is a lot less than half, in fact it’s exactly 40% of the year. Considering that I wrote basically 325k that’s an average of about 2.2k a day, for the days that I wrote. It’s these kind of figures that makes me wonder what I could accomplish if I was more consistent.

What is my big triumph of 2021? What am I most proud of?

Honestly this is where I fall down. I’m rarely proud of anything I do and I don’t see anything as a big triumph. All I see are my failures, where I didn’t do what I wanted. I’ve never been good at celebrating success. I just see how far I have to go. I mean most people would see finishing a project as a success right? For me once it’s done I check it off and I move on, I’m already onto the next thing in the endless climb up the mountain. That’s probably why I feel like I’ll never get there, I don’t see that I’ve gone anywhere.

Anyway I’m going to try and answer this because it’ll be good for me. I suppose the big triumph this year is I did actually write something original again. Yes I didn’t finish the draft I wanted but I have 113k of original fiction drafted. Considering that I had panic attacks every time I tried to write original fiction in 2020, that is a step forward. I hadn’t really written anything original since 2016, so to be able to do that again was a big deal. The draft is the worst draft in history and will probably have to be completely scrapped but it’s a start. The cliché “I can fix a bad page, I can’t fix a blank page” really does apply. I might not have gone very far down the road but I have taken a step forwards on the journey, just a baby half step closer to the ‘dream’ but that’s still progress I guess.

So to wrap-up 2021…

I think what best describes the year is mixed. I technically smashed the baby word count goal I set (although I always in my heart wanted more) but I don’t really feel like I achieved my goals. I’m not ending the year flush with a modicum of success like I did in 2020 when I smashed NaNo for the first time in years. In fact I didn’t actually take part in NaNoWriMo at all this year which hurts. NaNo is my thing and to not even try is like a dagger to the heart but I just wasn’t in the right mental space. In fact it’s probably healthier that I realised that and didn’t sign up, than sign up and then just not do it and beat myself up endlessly over that ‘failure’.

What hurts the most about 2021 is that I’d hoped it would be my rebuilding year, that I’d get into a groove, and then I’d be able to go into 2022 with the hope of publishing again. There’s the WriYe #Pub2022 challenge, which I’m signed for, but it’s just not going to be happening. Realistically I need to push it back to 2023 at least and I just feel like I’m running out of time, like I’ll never get there so what’s the point? I’m looking at 2022 as being another rebuilding year due to all the uncertainty regarding the move, I’m not even really sure what goals to set at the moment and I’m very disheartened by that. It’s not a good way to end the year.

“I don’t want to get through another year and feel like I wasted the time again” is what I wrote this time last year but yet here I am again. I really do hope that 2022 will be the dawn of a new era, and the start of better things to come. However, I’m not sure if I’m just making excuses at this point. I’m thinking to myself “well when I have my own place I’ll be able to crack on” but what if I can’t? The problem lies with me, and it always has, and yes external factors might make it harder but it’s never made it impossible. I’m really only fooling myself at this point but to go back full circle to the theme of this years WriYe – Try Everything. So long as I continue to try, there’s still a smidgeon of hope that maybe it’ll happen one day. I’ll try and hold onto that.

As for next year – what is Phase Two?