My former late and great writing mentor, Waverly Fitzgerald, had those of us in her Shipping Group (a writing support and accountability group) do an end-of-year review of our writing. Being an accountability group focused on ‘shipping’ pieces of writing and writing-related grant applications, it ended up being more of a tally sheet: useful when starting out on my writing life. But I soon craved a deeper, more holistic approach to an annual check-in with myself about more aspects of my writing life. Many examples and templates are available, but I’ve settled into the following that I developed based on many of them. In case you find it helpful, here are my categories, including a few examples from my completed 2022 writing life in review:
Creative Writing: Blog posts, Way Home book proposal, and completed seven chapters
Writing/work/other: I wrote/submitted five writing residency applications and three grant submissions to support my Skid Road/Way Home oral history interviews.
Accomplishments: My Skid Road book was named a finalist for the Washington State Book Award (thank you!). University of Washington Press buying the paperback rights for my Skid Road book and publishing it in February 2023 (paperback cover above). Book contract from John Hopkins University Press for my next book manuscript, working title: Way Home: Ways Out of Homelessness.
What got left behind: My answer to this is personal and related to my ‘day job,’ so I’ll skip it here—but I encourage you to dig deep on this one. Some things deserve to be left behind, and some you may want to recover.
How can I make my writing life easier? As mentioned above, my answer to this is personal and related to my day job… But try to be honest with yourself.
How did I spend my time in terms of writing? Except for day job drama/trauma, I was focused on writing my Way Home book manuscript…
How did writing make me feel? Encouraged and hopeful–this is an important question, so take your time.
Difficult writing moments: As above, all related to my day job, which I choose (for now) not to share. Again, be honest with yourself when answering this question. And remember that ‘difficult’ is not necessarily a bad thing. But some ‘difficult’ moments are righteously bad and deserve to be left behind and not repeated…
Favorite writing moments: Reading the opening excerpt of a recently completed chapter for my Way Home manuscript at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA) for the other artist and writer fellows and knowing that it is powerful.
How do I want my writing life to make me feel this year (2023)? Excited, engaged, challenged, fulfilled, and hopeful.
Areas of focus: Finish a good, solid draft of my Way Home book manuscript for delivery to JHU Press. Continue expanding my Skid Road/Way Home oral history interviews to support my book.
Schedule shifts and necessary ingredients to be successful with my area of focus this year: continue to prioritize my writing every day as necessary to complete my book manuscript. (also, one related to my day job and the leaving behind category above…)
Happy writing and New Year to all of you.