good morning, cyberspace!
I sliced my finger open on a bagel cutter this morning at work. Which means my pointer finger now screams for the sweet release of death with every single letter I type.
lol, this is fine.
All right, folks. This post might be coming out a little earlier than usual … or perhaps it’s later? Currently, I have no expectation nor idea as to when this post will go live, which means it could either go out tomorrow with some minor tweaking, or it might be nigh on 2021 by the time these words are resting in your hands. Time is irrelevant now more than ever, and with the Christmas season approaching with all the speed of a runaway train, I think it’s safe to say that we’re all doomed, and therefore the arrival of this post is relatively none of our concern.
Ahem. Moving forward.
I wrestled for quite a while with myself as to whether or not I should try and do a yearly wrap-up kind of thing this month. On the one hand … I really haven’t been blogging much this year. An atomic bomb exploded in my life over the summer, and–while I admit that I wasn’t even very good at keeping up with the blogosphere before this happened–I would be lying if I said it didn’t throw a massive curveball in the greater scheme of my plans for the year.
However, on the other hand, this year has managed to be one of the longest, most excruciatingly short years I’ve ever encountered. And I would be insane not to try and document some of the rather incredible things which have happened within it.
So after much debate and more than a few arguments with my reflection in the bathroom mirror, I decided to write an, albeit small, recap of 2020. I also realized that if I truly want to stay on top of this blogging thing, I’m simply going to have to suck up my fear of failure, kick my bad habit of not posting regularly in the butt, and just write. Because apparently blog posts don’t just magically appear in my draft folder anymore? I hired some secretary gnomes, but I think they’re more interested in eating my secret stash of cookies than actually doing anything worthwhile.
I suppose, to kick things off with a bang, we should take a peek at Past Kenzie’s goals for 2020–you know. The goals I made back when I was blissfully unaware of the horrors which soon awaited us.
Actually, looking back on my 2020 Goals Post, I now remember that I woke up with a cold on New Years day…. Which is actually kinda foreboding, if you think about it. XD But I digress. Apparently Past Kenzie had three main writing goals she was trying to accomplish within 2020. And out of those three main goals … I’ve actually accomplished two of them!
Which is surprisingly good for my previous track records!
KENZIE’S GOALS FOR 2020
i. finish the first draft of PROJECT SUNSET
I did this!!!! Past Kenzie was SO. SCARED. this wouldn’t be a thing that would happen this year, but my goodness, folks, we did it! To be quite honest, I’m not sure it would have happened had it not been for the three months I was laid off and in quarantine, but let it never be said that I took those weeks of unemployment lightly. During April’s Camp NaNoWriMo, I cranked out a solid 60,000 words (the most I’ve written in any NaNo event to date), and finished off the first draft of my manuscript about a month later.
This, of course, is due largely in part to the many sleep-deprived writing sprees I had into the wee hours of the night with my lovely friend, Jem. She and I wrote a LOT together over the summer (back when my job allowed me to stay up till 1 in the morning), and I honestly could not be more thankful to her for keeping me going…
ii. re-outline and begin drafting THE GIRL AND THE GOBLIN KING
Oh, lookee, lookee, I did this one, too!!! Now, I’m not gonna lie–this one was definitely up in the clouds when I first wrote it down in January. But knowing that I actually managed to accomplish this AND write a whole book this year??? I’m lowkey kinda proud of that, my friends.
Of course, Project Goblin isn’t ANYWHERE near completion, and the outline is more like HALF of an outline than anything. But I know more about this story now than I’ve ever known about it before, and that’s enough for me continue pressing forward with it into the new year.
Of course, I would have LOVED to be able to come here today and tell y’all that I wrote two books this year, but I think that might have been pushing it just a wee bit too far.
Writing one book is enough for me, especially with all the craziness this year has wrought.
iii. begin querying EVERLOST
Aha. And here we come to the writing goal which I DIDN’T accomplish. Or even try to accomplish.
Back at the start of the year, querying seemed like an entirely feasible thing. The world was at my fingertips, my book felt whole and complete and good.
And then I sent it off to beta readers, and thank GOODNESS I asked for feedback, because it looks as though everlost has a longer way to go than I thought. This book has already been through four major rewrites, but I fully believe that one last pass through will take it from “good” to “great”, and thereby make it worth my time to–potentially–try and query it someday.
HOWEVER. I feel like I should mention it now, because I don’t know when I’m going to be able to mention it again–my publishing focus is being shifted away from this book for the time being. I know that for the longest time, everlost was going to be the book with which I tried to take the publishing industry by storm, but as I’ve learned more about the publishing industry and more about what it takes to “break in” to all of the madness, I know now that trying to sell everlost as my first published book will be a level of difficult which borders on impossible. It has a lot going against it–its length, the fact that it’s the first in a duology–and I want to give myself every possible chance for success when I finally go to query. So while I love everlost dearly and fully intend to give it to the world someday, its publishing process might just look a little different than others.
Which leads us into another goal that I lowkey have for my future authorial career, but I digress. We’re gonna move on before I say too much. XD
Despite the fact that books are–in a nutshell–my life, I only had one small reading goal for the year, and that was to read 20 books in 2020. This is–for most readers–an overly simple and easily achievable goal.
For me, however, it’s proving to be a little bit more complicated than that.
December started out with me having read 10 books (of which I can remember) this year. This is, of course, the downfall of forgetting to mark down each of the novels you’ve read on Goodreads as you read them. But despite that minor mishap, I’m still hoping to complete my goal of reading 20 books by the time the clock strikes midnight on the 31st!
…and this is primarily because I’ve been devouring children’s picture books for the past two days.
I mean, could this technically be considered cheating? …yes. Yes, it could. But I would also like to provide the counter-argument that I’ve discovered three of my favorite books of the year simply by allowing myself to return to the reading level of my five-year-old self.
I also tried reading my 6-year-old cockatiel a rather poorly crafted tale about a dragon, some rather violent villagers, a squad of knights who apparently enjoy pulling out the only hair they have left, and a strange man named George who leads a traveling circus. He unfortunately was enjoying the narrative even less than I, and proceeded to squawk at my face while trying to bite my nose. So. I don’t think he enjoyed George and The Dragon very much.
But I digress. I did fall in love with many of the books I read this year, some of which inlcude:
This was an adorable, witty contemporary novel that felt like a beautiful reinvention of my favorite movie of all time–You’ve Got Mail–and I was 100% along for the enemies-to-lovers ride.
Also lowkey loved the family relationships in this one. Most contemporary novels frustrate me to no end with their utter betrayal or blatant disregard for family while in search for the greater meaning of “growing up” or “finding yourself”. So the fact that this book threw that topic out the window and made families something to be cherished was a twist that pleased me greatly.
Nicely done, Emma. Nicely done.
(someone please understand my reference, i need this)
Perfect for children of all ages–specifically ones like me who occasionally need someone to bluntly remind them that friends are people who
actually enjoy your company no matter the season, not angry people who take advantage of your kindness and disappear the moment they no longer need you like you.
Ahem. This really is a lovely little book if you can manage to find it. 10/10 recommend.
Not gonna lie, discovering these little books in an antique mall this year was one of the best things that happened to me. I just ADORE the simplicity and child-like innocence of these stories, which are really more like little poems than anything. And the illustrations that accompany them are almost as wonderful as the tales themselves.
Seriously, if you can find any of this author’s work, I HIGHLY recommend buying them. I think there were a couple other books by her that I left behind, and I’m kind of kicking myself for that at this point. (but I’m SO thankful that I brought these two home!)
Did I mention the fact that my reading tastes this year have been akin to that of a five-year-old? Yes? Well, here’s further proof, I guess.
My mom and I found this book in the children’s section at Wal-Mart, and OH MY GOODNESS. I’m so in love with this book! The pictures, the narrative, the GOLDFISH. This may be a children’s book, but it is a literary MASTERPIECE which has earned its rightful spot on my happy blue “favorite books” shelf.
I’ve tried reading this one to Durachi, as well, but currently I think he’s overwhelmed by the book’s size–which is, I’ll admit, rather large. (a characteristic that I prefer, but which overwhelms a five-inch tall bird, I’m afraid)
And we’ve finally reached my all-time favorite read of the year, my friends! When I was looking through the (albeit scanty) selection of books I’ve read this year, there really wasn’t that much competition for which novel would win Book of The Year for 2020.
There are many reasons why I absolutely adored this book–the writing, the character development, the bone-chilling, nail-biting, knuckle-whitening thrill of the plot–but while all of this would have bumped this up to Book of The Year no matter what, my affection for this novel was catapulted over the edge by the fact that it was given to me and annotated by my friend, Phoebe. I’ve never received a book which has been annotated just for me before, and reading it was like reading it alongside one of my bestest friends.
I still haven’t managed to find the rest of the series yet, which is a shame because I am now suffering from WITHDRAWAL, PEASANTS. But I’m hoping that I’ll be able to finish off the series this next year!
(I would also like to note that this is the last book I read before the entire world fell apart this year, which is … quite a coincidence.)
I kinda wish I could squeal about all of the books I enjoyed this year, but this post is getting long enough as it is, already, and I haven’t even gotten to the reflection bit yet. So alas. We’ll have to squeal about books at a later time. My apologies.
REFLECTING ON 2020 (cue the screaming)
And here we come to the part of the post that I’m not entirely sure how to type. So much has happened this year, but over the months they’ve all become so tangled up in my memory that it’s hard to remember what happened first or how I’ve come to be in the place where I currently am. I guess the order in which they happened doesn’t really matter, but for the sake of my sanity and cohesiveness, I’ll try and relate the highlights of this year in as accurate an order as I can.
2020: the highlights
- sent everlost off to beta readers
- regretted sending everlost off to beta readers and decided to completely forget that other humans were reading it
i still have not read the notes yet oops
- in a whirlwind attempt to get my mind off the fact that other people were reading my work, I wrote the first draft of an entirely new book–Project Sunset (it is garbage and I love it)
- wrote many, many weird little poems in my phone’s note app on lunchbreaks at thrift store
- volunteered to help with my church’s music crew at Vacation Bible School during the summer, and–when the music crew leader could no longer lead due to COVID restrictions at work–was asked to lead the music crew instead
- led music crew. had a blast.
- attended virtual Realm Makers for the first time ever
- talked one-on-one with an actual, real-life agent and an actual, real-life author, who both helped me better understand how to lay down the directional stones for my authorial career
- learned, grew, and became incredibly inspired by my time at Realm Makers, and realized that the path my life was beginning to go down was not, in fact, the path I wanted to follow (insert panicked screaming)
- began to grow extremely discontent at thrift store job
- received an extremely out-of-the-blue text from an old friend asking if I wanted to work at a coffee shop I’d applied to over a year ago
- accepted request and put in my two-week’s notice the next day
- turned 21
- cried whole way home on my last day at thrift store
- started new job the following week
- received unexpected promotion at work before my 2-month anniversary (much thank. much stress.)
- started writing Project Goblin for NaNoWriMo
- failed NaNoWriMo most spectacularly
- tried again with NaNoWhyTho
- failed NaNoWhyTho most spectacularly (this is why there haven’t been any recent updates, guys. XD)
- had a most beautifully quiet Christmas
- and now … here we are, standing on the precipice of 2021.
Looking back on this year, it’s incredible to think of all the many ways I’ve grown. This has been a year of truly learning to blindly trust God in where He’s leading my life, and I know at times I’m still struggling with this (obviously), but I do feel like the direction I’m heading in now is closer to where I want my life to be than I was at the start of the year. Many things I would have said no to in previous years, I said yes to this year. I stepped up to the proverbial plate when I otherwise would have shied away and swung with everything I had in me, and sometimes I missed … and that was okay. I’ve learned that it’s better to show up and fail than to never have tried.
And my goodness, I’ve failed some of the expectations I’ve placed on myself this year. But that’s another thing I’ve learned: it’s okay to fail. Failure isn’t something negative that we should skirt around awkwardly, afraid to look it in the eye lest it stab us with a spoon. Failure is a friend when the world shouts at us to be perfect on our first try. It is generous, and gentle, and teaches us to pick ourselves up again when we feel it’s impossible to stand. Without failure, there is no growth. Without failure, there is no learning.
I can’t even count on all my fingers and toes the amount of times I’ve heard that we shouldn’t say we failed at something, even if we clearly have. This world has given the term ‘failure’ such a negative connotation that we’re all too afraid to use it unironically, but I’m finally starting to realize that it’s not as horrible as we might have thought. To fail is to grow, and if trying something and failing at it helps me realize that I need to restructure my way of doing things, then I would rather have failed and grown 1,000 times than stay stagnant sitting where I’ve always been.
So thank you, 2020, for teaching me that it’s okay to not accomplish everything. Thank you for showing me that it’s going to be okay after completely upending my entire life and taking a plunge I never would have taken two years ago. Thank you for holding my hand through this weird, strange, slightly apocalyptic situation we’ve found ourselves in, and thank you for being the year in which I discovered some truly mind-shattering realizations about myself and the way with which I view the world.
I’m still not exactly where I want to be, I think. There are some choices I’ve made which have bled into regrets, and I’m still trying to pick those pieces up, dust them off, and reevaluate how to make them fit once again. But I know that no matter what happens, I’m loved and held and cherished by Someone much bigger and stronger than I will ever be, and that’s enough to keep me walking foward into this big, beautiful, slightly terrifying year ahead of us.
talk to me, peasants!
Let’s talk about 2020, shall we? Excluding the obviously negative discussion we COULD have, what are some happy things which have happened to you this year? Were you able to achieve any (or all) of your goals? What was your favorite read of 2020? Any writing projects you’re particularly proud of?
For me, I think my biggest accomplishment was finishing the first draft of Project Sunset, because it’s been YEARS since I’ve finished a first draft. (#newbwriter) But I digress! Let’s talk about ALL OF THE THINGS down in the comments below!
And until next time …
* flings cookies in the air and disappears *