Near the end of 2013, I created a list of goals for 2014. They were all professional goals related to my career (writing goals, editing goals, teaching goals). Early in 2014, I check in on that list periodically, but somewhere along the line, I lost track of checking in on the items listed there in favor of actually pursuing them. A very good thing.
Of the fifteen items on the list, I accomplished eight. Of the remaining seven, four fell by the wayside because of some new professional opportunities that arose (thereby making the ones on the list moot). So, I consider those a wash. Another was something I made the conscious decision not to pursue in favor of something else on the list (they were really competing goals), and another was something that I decided to hold off until 2015 because of some other more time-sensitive commitments in 2014. That leaves one goal that was missed, and there’s no excuses on it. It was a simple one that I should have stayed on top of, but I just didn’t. Nonetheless, I’d say I did pretty damn good for the year.
A goal that I discussed here, and that wasn’t on the list, had to do with my reading: My Year of the Short Story, which I wrote about back in March. I’d say this one was a success; of the ~47 books I read in 2014, 28 were short story collections (and four others were writing/craft books). That means about 60% of what I read were short stories. And, back in March, I said that my tentative goal “was to just make sure I’m reading more short stories than non-short stories for the year overall.” Boom. Another goal accomplished in 2014.
In addition, the experience of reading more short stories in 2014 also exposed me to several authors I wouldn’t have likely found otherwise (because they have only published in the short form). In fact, I ended up reading multiple collections by a few authors because I loved their work so much. I also found myself identifying with what I was reading in ways I haven’t before. In the past, most of my reading left me saying to myself, “Why do I think I can do this?” But the books I was reading this year—at least the short story collections—left me thinking, “I think I just might be able to do this.” In what I was reading, I found similar perceptions. Similar language use. Similar ideas and concepts. It was inspiring and, surprisingly, empowering.
The experience also let me reclaim my love for short stories. Through “forcing” myself to read more short stories, I remembered why I loved them so much. It’s such an amazing form of writing. So compact. So powerful. It left me feeling really good about writing (exclusively) in the short form at this time, and it has even spurned me to push myself to write even “shorter” going into 2015 (more on that later).
All in all, while I don’t have a ton of publications to show for 2014 (only two, with five submissions still pending), I did do a lot of writing and reading. I accomplished the most important of the goals I had for 2014, and I feel like I’m moving in the right direction. My writing is improving, my confidence is growing, and I’m ready to make some more goals for 2015.