The real answer? Yes and mostly no.
But I had a pretty good year anyway.
That’s the short version. Looking back on 2017, I felt like the first half of the year was crazy good. I got shortlisted for a Ditmar Award, longlisted for the Debut Dagger and had two short story publications.
And then… life happened. I got a mortgage, then moved house the day after I got back from an international holiday. If that’s not enough to make a person crumple into a puddle on the floor, I don’t know what is.
The biggest lesson I learned in 2017 was that things take longer than you think they will. You need to allow yourself time to process stressful life situations. Coming into December, I finally felt settled enough to have good practices in place. I’ve been getting up at 6am, editing my book and doing exercise.
But first, I want to break down some of the goals I had, how they went and the surprises along the way. I wrote back at the start of the year about using my MiGoals journal to track this process, a diary which I’ve loved. So much so, I’ve bought a bigger and better one for next year. Here are the goals I wrote at the start of 2017 and how they stacked up.
Sell my book
While I didn’t sell my novel, it got longlisted for the Debut Dagger. I’ve had the opportunity to show it to people through the longlisting. I’m keeping this goal going in 2018. Perseverance is key in publishing.
Blogging and social media
I had a goal to increase my social media and web presence, which included blogging 52 weeks a year. I did a lot of admin work, refreshed my site and took a couple of online courses. What I realised in this process was that people were getting confused about what I actually did on my site. Do I write noir or take travel photos? I made the hard decision to split my websites, so I’ll no longer be blogging on travel photography here. But stay tuned – next year I’m planning a big relaunch of my photography portfolio on a brand new site!
Write 12 short stories and sell one at a pro rate
Kinda fail. This goal was way too ambitious on top of everything I already do. One project at a time, baby. However, I sold two short stories this year (not at a pro-rate, but I’m getting there). I also had an essay I’m proud of published in Weird Fiction Review. You can read them here:
- Reef in SQ Mag
- A Woman Walks In at Crimson Streets
- 101 Weird Writers #46 — Ryūnosuke Akutagawa at Weird Fiction Review
Set up passive income streams
This was the surprise winner for me. I didn’t expect much from this goal, but by adding more images to my stock portfolio I’ve made some money from passive income! I also used my freelance and stock money to buy a new camera. I’ll keep chipping away at this when I set up my new photography site next year.
Concentrate more and focus
A simple one and a big win. I’m still struggling to turn my devices off at 9pm, so it’s a work in progress. But I have been exercising three times a week and reading more this month.
Sometimes the best achievements are the ones you don’t expect. Some crazy good things happened this year as a result of my persistence. They were never goals, but sure it is amazing they happened:
- I got a photo on the National Geographic website. This happened because of my persistence with uploading my photography to stock sites. Sometimes I look around to see where my photos are used, and I stumbled upon this article on Nat Geo with my photo on it!
- I got longlisted for the Debut Dagger award. I had to explain to people that this is kinda a big deal. The Daggers are one of the most prestigious awards for crime writing in the world. To be on the longlist is an amazing achievement. The Debuts are for unpublished crime fiction manuscripts
- I went to Vietnam and had a blast taking photos, riding bikes, hiking and visiting some of the amazing national parks. Reminds me that goals don’t have to always be serious, they can be fun goals too.
- I got to facilitate panels at both Genrecon and Continuum. I’ve been working hard on becoming a good moderator these past few years.
- I bought an apartment!!!! Totally adulting!
- Things always take longer than you expect
- Don’t lose sight of or diminish your accomplishments
- Sometimes you have to take a step back
- Be bold in putting yourself out there even if it terrifies you
- Do one project at a time
What’s in store for 2018?
I’ve learned to make my overarching goals a little less ambitious. Instead, I’m including ambitious goals under the umbrella of a larger one. My goals include:
- Improve and sell my photography – includes things like taking some training courses, setting up a print store and flying a drone!
- Get better at writing and write new work – includes finding an agent, attending conferences and reading books on writing.
- Grow spiritually
- Travel and adventure – I’m really excited to be organising a trip to the Balkans.
- Lose weight and exercise
We’ll see what 2018 has in store, but I have a feeling it’s going to be a good year.