Monday, January 3, 2022

The Year is Going; Let It Go [2021 Recap//2022 Goals]


Here's the good news, y'all: no bad puns in this year's post! Probably. There's no actual guarantee, but I can say with confidence that if any show up, they'll be a surprise to both of us.

Anyway, 2022! It exists! We made it! Huzzah! On the whole, 2021 wasn't . . . well, for me, it wasn't as bad as it could've been, and in hindsight, it doesn't feel as bad as it probably should. There were a few objectively non-great things that happened — one in particular — but they were outweighed by all the good that happened. Thank you, God, for that.

So, what made 2021 an actually-pretty-solid-except-for-that-one-bit year? What are my goals for 2022, and how many of them will I forget by February? It's time to get some answers . . . to the first two, at least. Obviously we'll have to wait until February or March for the answer to the third.

(Oh, and as a note in case anyone missed it, my New Year's Eve short story went up . . . well, on New Year's Eve, and I'll post my 2021 reading recaps later this week. They'll probably go up on Friday, but it's hard to say. I may post them early.)

2021 Recap // 2022 Goals

2021 Recap

Year of Finally?

  • You may remember that at the start of 2021, I said that I was going to try to combine CGP Grey's "Year of . . . " or "theme" method with my usual goal-setting. You may also recall that I picked "Year of Finally" as my theme.
  • Did it work out? It's hard to say. I did accomplish some things that I've been meaning to get to for a while, but I largely did them long after I'd forgotten about setting the theme. Maybe I was still thinking about it subconsciously? But I'm not confident in that assessment.
  • Overall, I think that while the themes are a nice idea, they aren't any more useful than the goals I normally set. Will I set a "Year of . . ." theme for 2022 to give it another try? We'll figure that out sometime between now and when I get to the Goals section of this post.


  • So, I said once again that I was going to set and actively work towards monthly writing goals . . . and I genuinely do not know if I can say I accomplished it or not? On one hand, I didn't have specific month-by-month wordcount goals to work for. On the other hand, I did have projects that I was actively working on the whole year with deadlines for those projects that often meant I was saying "I want to get this much done by the end of the month.) So, even if I didn't succeed in the letter of the goal, I definitely achieved the spirit of the goal.
  • As far as how much writing I did, I have a combined writing and editing total of 174,077 words spread over three main projects. I'm not going to try to separate out the two because the first rewrite of Gilded in Ice involved a lot of overlap — there were a lot of chapters that I either wrote new for that draft or essentially rewrote from the ground up. That's a little less than half of what I wrote and edited last year, but given that I spent most of last year at home with not much to do besides write and apply for jobs, while this year I was working full time, I feel like I did pretty well.
  • As far as specific project goals go:
    • I finished drafting Gilded in Ice, edited it, and published it. This was my big goal for the year, and I'm quite happy with the final product. There were some setbacks along the way (including but not limited to: having to essentially rewrite the book, getting sick the month before it was going to come out, and generally having less writing time than I have in the past), but it's out, and the release was probably the smoothest I've ever had.
    • I kept up with writing my Defenders of Serys D&D campaign. We've moved into the fourth "season" of the campaign, after spending a good year dealing with pirates and dragon hunters. From that, I've learned a fair bit about how I want to run adventures in the future — namely, keep the number of significant NPCs present at any given time fairly low and move back towards shorter adventures.
    • I did not start my Shattered Mirrors Arista Challenge story, though I did come up with an idea for it that I really liked. And I very much want to write it because it would give me a little bit of a break from the storyworlds I've been working in. We'll see what happens there.
    • I also did not rewrite Blood in the Earth or rewrite or edit any backlog projects. Gilded and Bastian Dennel #3 both have taken up a lot of time, plus I lost several weeks in August, and it just didn't happen.
  • I stayed fairly consistent with blogging. I did take more breaks than I have in the past, but I allowed for that in last year's goal. I was less consistent with my author socials, but I still managed to hit more weeks than I missed, so I'm not beating myself up about that. I also introduced a new blog post series, On the Taleweaver's Desk, that gives the big-sized picture of what's going on with my writing throughout the year, and I think that's going to be helpful both for me and for y'all.


  • I'll cover most of this in my Best of/End-of-Year Book Celebration posts, which will be up later this week, so I'm not going into a lot of detail here.
  • In summary: I surpassed my goal of how many books I wanted to read in general, but I either didn't quite succeed at or just barely succeeded at most of my more specific goals.
  • I did successfully keep a book-tracking spreadsheet for more than a month, and I think it was helpful in tracking what I've read and accomplished.


  • I've worked at my job doing graphic design for a local church for almost a year. It'll be a full year on the fifth, which is pretty exciting. I'm still enjoying it, and I feel like I have a nice rhythm and routine, but not so strict of a routine that I'm getting bored. The work occupies that lovely space between varied and challenging enough that I can't lose interest but not so difficult that I'm constantly discouraged and frustrated, and the people are lovely.
  • I've kept up with German. I had a very nice streak going until sometime in August when I got sick and had to take a break. But I got back into it as soon as I was feeling better, and I've even managed to get pretty high on their leaderboards for how many lessons and stories you complete per week.
  • I've started doing some photography again. I went through with rejoining the photo club, and even though I don't always feel like attending the lecture nights, the photo contests are definitely worth it for both the critiques and the motivation. I've gotten to do a few "photo expeditions" to different places, which has been fun. And I've also discovered that my phone takes decent enough quality photos that I can do "artsy" stuff on it when I encounter something worth photographing — for example, really nice light through the stained glass windows at the church where I work!
  • I started memorizing Scripture and poetry again. I used to do Scripture memory weekly for AWANA before we moved and I went to college, and I've meant to pick it back up ever since I graduated — even a bit before that, really. I wanted to be able to reliably and accurately recall relevant passages when I needed them . . . and I also feel like being able to pull poetry out of my back pocket when I want it would be . . . well, handy isn't the right word, really. Cool, maybe? Fun? It's something, anyway.
  • I went through my church's membership class and started a Connect Group! Kinda. Currently it meets once a month for Bible study and board games. There have been several hiccups, and I keep second-guessing everything and stressing out because I feel like I don't know what I'm doing. I know I probably just need to give it time, but . . . it's stressful.
  • I found out what having pneumonia feels like. This was absolutely not a goal I wanted to achieve, but . . . it is useful for story research? Maybe? For those curious: it's not terribly exciting, but is rather tiring (because of the whole not-being-able-to-breath-deeply thing). It's also possible to have it and not realize it, so take note of that for potential drama-making.
  • As far as craft goals go, I did start a project with one of my special yarns, though I haven't finished it. (It's a scarf, and it's knitted, and it's not on really big needles, so I work on it for a while and then get bored and want to do something else. It'll be done eventually.) I didn't do anything with my cloak, unfortunately, but I did give latchhooking another go. That was pretty fun.
  • I ventured into new areas of bread-making with making naan/flatbread and bagels, settling on a reliable sourdough reciple, and adding things to my sourdough loaves. Naan, by the way, is delicious, and I need to make it again sometime soon. As far as bagels go, sourdough bagels seem to turn out the best, with the White Sulphur Springs recipe being a pretty solid second. As far as sourdough goes, I combined two recipes to produce a loaf that I reliably like and settled on that around the start of the year. In terms of add-ins, I actually haven't been that adventurous (I'm mostly just adding some herbs for extra flavor), but it has opened up a new world of potential, so it feels significant.
  • I attempted to learn video editing and then decided that it is not my jam. It's finicky, and I just . . . don't enjoy it. If it becomes necessary, I'll give it another try, but for the moment, I'll happily leave it to others.

All in all, as you can probably tell, 2021 wasn't a bad year. Could it have been better? Sure. But the same thing can be said of most years. And now that it's over, it's time to move on to . . .

2022 Goals

Year of  . . .

  • I said earlier in the post that I'd decide when I got to this point if I'm going to give the themes another try. And I have made that decision — mostly because I realized a lot of the goals I want to set follow a theme anyway.
  • What theme? Onward and upward. It's not a single word, but it's concise enough to work, and basically what I'm saying is: what I'm already doing well, I want to keep doing (onward), and I want to improve or expand it where I reasonably can (upward).
  • Now that I've written this, a part of me is saying that maybe it's a silly theme — after all, isn't that what you're supposed to do? Keep doing better at things? But I'm going with it anyway because it works. Anyway, with that theme in mind, let's get on to the specific goals.

Writing Goals

  • In the vein of onward, I again want to set and actively work towards monthly or multi-monthly writing goals in at least ten of the twelve months of 2022. I'm saying now for planning purposes: if I set a goal in, say, April, that I want to start drafting a novel in May and have it finished by the end of June, that's fine. Or if I have a goal of I need to write and edit this book by X date and x is four months away, that's fine too. The point is consistent, purposeful writing.
    • For January, my number one goal is to finish writing Bastian Dennel, PI #3. I need it done, and I need it done soon because of how the timing will work out for both when I want to publish it and other projects I need to work on. As I said in my last Doings! post, though, the end is in sight; I just have to keep my momentum.
  • The upward part of my writing goals for this year? I would love to put out more than one book in 2022. If things work out the way I want them to with finishing BDPI#3 and working on other projects I have in mind, this should be doable. We'll see.
  • To that point, there are, of course, some specific writing projects I want to tackle this year.
    • This goes without saying, but I need to finish, edit, and publish BDPI#3. I also need to name the thing, but I have two ideas floating in my head, firm enough that I think I should be able to do a title review relatively soon.
    • I need to decide if I'm writing my Super Secret Mystery Project and, if so, write and edit that. This project would involve a very fast turnaround time, but I really like the concept and it would be a nice break from Bastian Dennel books (which I love, but which I'll probably be writing for quite a while because I have so many ideas), so I may very well go for it.
    • I want to start work on BDPI#4. I have the concept/premise more or less figured out, though I still need to work out more details before I start writing. It's going to be fun, let me tell you.
    • I want to figure out what I'm going to do about the next Arista Challenge. This refers to the one for release in 2023; Kendra just announced that it'll be The Little Mermaid. I have an idea that I like, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to get it written in time, which might mean pushing said idea back . . . or rearranging some story order stuff, but we'll see.
    • I want to keep up with writing my Defenders of Serys D&D campaign. This is a pretty necessary goal if I want to keep my group going, since no one else has shown any indication that they want to DM and some people have said very definitively that they don't want to DM. That said, I'm not going to put any other D&D writing on the table as a goal — upward doesn't apply here; only onward. I don't think I'll have time for more.
  • Finally, I'm maintaining my goal from last year of keeping up with my blogging and author socials as much as I can. Specifically, I'd like to be better about prewriting blog posts when I have ideas and time, and I want to be more deliberate about taking pictures for IG/FB in batches so I'm not scrambling at the last minute on Tuesday or Wednesday morning. But I am also once again giving myself permission to skip one blog post and one social post per month as necessary (though I'd prefer not to skip both in the same week if I can avoid it).

Reading Goals

  • My reading goal for this year is 99 books. I feel pretty confident about my ability to reach that, since I've held steady at around 120 books a year for the last few years. That said, some of my more specific reading goals will mean I'm reading longer books, so I don't want to aim too high.
  • I'm repeating my goal of 12 books published (or written) before 1975. I thought about relaxing it, but . . . it's one book a month, and I know it should be doable. The trick is just finding the right books.
  • I've done pretty well with non-speculative-fiction reading goals in the past couple years, so we're amping that goal up to 15 non-speculative fiction books over the course of 2022. I've achieved this number before, so I know it's doable. Again, it's just a matter of finding the right books.
  • Carrying on something I started last year: I want to catch up with the Wheel of Time reading series and stay caught up with it. They're currently on Lord of Chaos, which is where I got stuck when I originally read the series. Based on how long the series has taken per book in the past, that probably means reading about four and a half books. That feels doable, especially if I get out the books as ebooks so I can more easily read when I'm out and about rather than just when I'm at home.
  • And a new goal: I want to read more poetry. I realized while figuring out what poetry to memorize that I've never spent that much time interacting with poetry outside of homework? And I feel like I should fix that. I think my goal at the moment is to spent some time reading poetry once a week — which, yes, is a low bar, but I have no idea what's reasonable and what's not, and I don't want to take too much time away from fiction.
  • Finally, I want to keep tracking my reads in detail. I think I'm going to switch to using a Google form, but I'm not 100% certain; I'll try it for a month and see how things go. I do know that I want to track a few more things this year (like physical vs. ebooks, owned vs. library vs. KU books, and whether or not specific elements are included), which means a form might be easier, but we'll see.

Life Goals

  • My first general-life goal for 2022 is to keep doing well at my job — I'd like to add an upward here, but I'm not quite sure what that looks like right now, and I think I'd have to talk to some other people to figure it out. Plus, with my current supervisor retiring and a new one coming in around the end of January, keep doing well and being reliable and taking things as they come without getting frustrated (in a time when many things are uncertain) may be enough on its own.
  • I want to keep practicing German. I'm debating adding a second language as well, in keeping with the upward part of my theme? But at the same time, I don't want to overdo it, and last time I tried learning a language with just Duolingo, I ended up confused about grammar and how verb endings work, so it didn't work out too well. We'll see.
  • I want to keep up with my Scripture and poetry memorization. I've already laid out what Scripture passages I'm memorizing through the end of the year. For the most part, I'm going for shorter sections than I did in 2021 — but some of what I attempted last year was a bit overambitious, especially for prose sections.
  • This is a bit cliche, but I want to find an exercise method that works for my current situation that I'll enjoy enough to do regularly. Ok, yes, that's setting the bar low. I'm trying to be realistic here, though. I know that I should exercise more than I do (also a low bar), but I also know that I won't do it if I don't enjoy it, health benefits or not.
  • On the more personal side, I need to stop catastrophizing so readily. I don't consider myself a pessimist, but if I'm upset about something, I can very easily jump to the worst non-impossible outcome of doing that thing. I know it's not a good habit, and I don't like to do it. I just sometimes don't know how to not do it — but I should probably figure it out.
  • Moving back to the doing-things goals: I want to attend at least one convention this year. Realm Makers is on the table because it's in a location I could drive rather than fly to, and I'd love to go at least once. Also, there's a board game convention that I'm also eying prospectively — though that one is dependent on how certain things work out in the friend group.
  • Finally — and this is a little bit of a stretch goal only because I don't know where it'll fit in — I want to do some combination of expanding existing skills, revisiting old skills, or trying to learn a new skill so it comes out to a total of doing three different things in one of these areas. It doesn't have to be big; if I learn a new baking technique or learn to bake or cook something with significant differences from things I already know how to make, that counts. And I don't have to stick with it; if I decide I want to learn another coding language but discover I hate it after a few weeks, I can leave it and it still counts. That said (and this is a note for future Sarah), the point is to either go upward with an existing skill or onward with learning new skills — so if I learn three new baking techniques over the next year, that's awesome, but it still only counts as one for purposes of this goal.

What were the highlights of your 2020? What goals, themes, or resolutions do you have for the new year? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

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