2020 Reflections and Looking to 2021

Hello! It’s been a very busy December here, but things are about to slow waaaaay down now that work is wrapping up. I’m looking forward to a break filled with video games, writing, baking holiday recipes, and lots of books! I’m planning on reading A Christmas Carol next week, and Holly Black blessed our holidays early with How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories.

December is also the month where I look back at the year, and make goals for the next. It’s no surprise that 2020 has been one with extraordinary circumstances, and I was definitely not immune to it. But this isn’t a post about hardships–instead, I want to focus on some of the positives!

Two of my biggest goals for 2020 was to query my light fantasy adventure, and to write an entirely new book. These dates shifted a bit for a whole host of reasons I won’t get into, but I actually did manage to do both these things. During a pandemic! Things haven’t gone as I hoped with querying and I’m holding off on further querying until 2021, but regardless, I managed to finish one story and write an entire draft of a new story. This is the fastest I’ve ever written, and I’m so proud!

Also in the writing sphere, I wanted to get more involved with the writing community and events. I couldn’t do the in-person ones I planned for, but I participated in way more virtual events, made new friends and became a lot closer to existing writer friends, and generally just put myself out there more. I also applied to multiple mentor events and Twitter pitch events. I wanted to beta read more this year, too, and I got into a great cadence with beta reads. Aaaaand I hit my GoodReads goal on top of that.

And I wanted to grow my bookstagram! I’m proud to say I beat my goal this year–down to the wire, but hey, it counts!

Outside of the book world, I wanted to do a 5k in 2020, but due to health reasons I had to alter the plan (I’m not even sure there were 5k events this year?). I also wanted to be more involved in charity this year, so I combined two ideas: I organized my company’s first charity event, where we each walked a 5k (sure, I didn’t run, but I kept the 5k part!) and raised funds for Feeding America. I’d never organized something like that, and seeing my team come together for a good cause was such an uplifting experience.

I wanted to travel to two new places, and while the pandemic cut this goal quickly, I did manage to sneak in one new place before March– Paris! It’s almost hard to believe that was this year, because it feels vastly different from everything else I did in 2020, but it’s one of my fondest memories. My husband (at the time, we’d only been married about 3 months!) and I got to spend Valentine’s Day in Paris, visiting the Lourve and the Eiffel Tower while I spoke pretty awful French to get us macarons. I tried!

I had a lot of other goals (I’m goal-oriented as hell), but you get the idea. Which brings us to the quickly approaching new year.

Each December, I write myself a letter to read one year on, and I choose a word I think will define the year ahead. Last year, I chose “strength” to define 2020, which is also my namesake. I couldn’t exactly explain it at the time, but I knew 2020 would bring challenges for me, and I wanted to be strong through it. Of course I didn’t predict what would really happen this year, but boy, did I choose a year to dub “strength.” And while there’s a hell of a lot I wish I didn’t have to go through this year, as I suspect we all wish, I know I’m really going to appreciate the year and opportunities ahead, and the good that managed to shine through is even brighter.

Soon, I’ll start writing my 2020 letter, to read in December 2021. Better get a stack of paper ready! I’ve been thinking about what my goals will be for the new year, and what word I’d like to define my 2021.

I’ve spent some time thinking about it, and the word I keep thinking for 2021 is “renaissance.” With the news of the first vaccines hitting the US, I am so, so hopeful for ‘21. I won’t be in the first wave of those to receive it, but I feel pretty confident my life will start to open up by summertime. 

Renaissance, rebirth, revitalization–whatever word I end up choosing, I know it’ll be a hopeful one. A sunrise after the long dark. And it means some of my goals for the first part of the year will most likely feel different from the second half.

Some specific writing goals for the year ahead: I want to query the story I began earlier this year (it would be the fastest I’ve ever fully completed a project, so it’s a lofty but still reasonable goal), participate even more in the writing community, and ideally attend an in-person event in the second half of 2021. I’m not sure what the landscape will look like by then, but I’m hopeful there will be something!

I’m also aiming to put together a more cohesive writer’s aesthetic on my Instagram. My bookstagram (another thing I plan to continue growing) has a very clear aesthetic, but my personal Instagram is…well, random!  And while I’m not converting my Instagram to be entirely about writing (do people say writergram?), I do want it to feel more refined than it is now. I really enjoy doing creative projects, so I’m really looking forward to this one.

I’m deciding my exact reading goal– I’d love to read zillions of books, but it’s such a balancing act between my extensive writing goals and having a full-time job (and when the world opens up, I’ll have a lot I want to do). Most likely, it’ll be the same goal as this past year.

Outside of the writing and books, I want to continue being more involved in charity efforts, along with focusing on my health and wellness, physically and mentally. Not gonna lie, I went from being very social to basically not social at all, and I expect the adjustment back to more social interactions/outings may be a little tough. I want to be back out there, seeing friends, enjoying traveling and everything in between, but I expect I’ll have some lingering social anxiety after nearly a year of extremely minimal contact with people (and in many cases, literally avoiding people). There’s been a “don’t get physically close to people” rule in me for 9 months, and by the time I have a vaccine, it’ll be closer to 14 months. So I imagine it’ll take some mental adjusting to “wait I can hug people again, wait I don’t have to stand so far away, wait I can enjoy walks through Manhattan and big cities.”

I’m not sure what my other goals will be yet–I tend to make a lot of ambitious yet still realistic goals for myself, so there will probably be some random ones. If “learn how to keep your apartment less cluttered” isn’t on there, then I’ve made a mistake.

And this post is a wrap for the year! I’ll be coming back in 2021 with many more writing-related posts about the process of writing a novel and the craft itself. Thanks so much for joining me on this journey. I’ll see you again in the new year, and in the meantime, happy holidays and good health! ❤

Hugs and warm cookies,
Valerie

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