Shoot for the Moon 2018 Challenge – How Did I Do? #Brainfluffblog #AuthorAnnals4

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This is now an annual event – in the dying days of the year, my writing buddy Mhairi Simpson and I sit down together and set ourselves targets for the coming year. The theory is that in aiming for the insanely unrealistic, we’ll achieve more than if we were more cautious in our goalsetting – did this work for me during 2018?
• Rewrite Miranda’s Tempest and submit it to the agent who expressed an interest in it
Well, I did the rewrite, submitted the manuscript to an editor in June and got the feedback. By then, I was in the throes of rewriting The Arcadian Chronicles, which I thought wouldn’t take all that long. However, it has. It is still doing so. Which means that Miranda’s Tempest is still waiting to be sorted out. I am hoping to get to it during the summer, However, during the long break from it, I have had a major epiphany regarding the beginning. A – duh! moment where I can’t believe I didn’t take this approach before. It should improve the pacing, make the reader immediately aware of what’s at stake and start the story with a bang.

• Organise new covers for Running Out of Space and Dying for Space
It helps when your best writing buddy also happens to be an awesome cover designer – I was so grateful when Mhairi agreed to help me out and the general response has been nothing but positive since I released the books with the new covers.

• Rewrite, edit and publish Breathing Space
Yes – this was all achieved, so that Breathing Space now completes The Sunblinded Trilogy, after being published on 18th July. I have also set up the story so that Lizzy is poised to start a new chapter in her life, once I start writing the crime series featuring her next series of adventures.

• Rewrite, edit and publish Mantivore Preys and Mantivore Freed
This is another casualty of my poor writing performance during the latter end of the year. I’m now nearly halfway through Mantivore Preys, which I more or less started on schedule – and then started wading through glue as the story graunched from one dead-end to another. At last my writing is gathering momentum again, so I’m hoping to complete the book by the end of February. With luck and a following wind, I’ll also have the first draft of Mantivore Freed finished by the end of the summer. Fingers crossed… I have the covers ready for these books and am really looking forward to getting them completed and published.

• Release paperback editions for Running Out of Space, Dying for Space and Breathing Space
I have released Running Out of Space as a paperback and had hoped to have Dying for Space done before the end of the year. However, it didn’t happen – again due to my illness. Hopefully, I’ll have Dying for Space and Breathing Space both available in paperback format by the end of February.

• Write the first draft of Bloodless
No, I didn’t get close. My health became a real issue from the time I returned from my lovely writing retreat. Even before then, I wasn’t happy with the quality of my writing which had lost its bounce and energy. It turns out I was the one without any bounce and only now, since my diagnosis of hypertension, am I starting to feel like my old self as the medication is starting to take effect.

• Learn to market my books
Himself and I attended a marketing conference at the early part of the year and came away a tad overwhelmed, but enthusiastic. With Mhairi’s help, I plunged into the rarefied world of Amazon ads and felt quite pleased with my progress for a few months – before the algorithm abruptly changed and nothing was working any more. It takes a lot of time and energy I simply don’t have to keep on top of these developments, so I’ve decided to put the Marketing aspect on the back-burner until I have more books available to make it more economically viable.

• Read and review at least 100 books on my blog
I read 162 books during the year and published 124 reviews on the blog, although I have a few more written that will now have to wait until the coming year to see the light of day. I always love blogging and discussing books, but during the year I had to cut back from posting daily to about four times a week once my energy diminished as I became unwell. I’m not rushing to resume my daily posts, as I think one of my issues has been overwork.

• Continue teaching Creative Writing at Northbrook
Since Northbrook merged with Brighton Metropolitan, the Adult and Community Learning Department has had a new lease of life and during 2018, I was delighted to be able to run an extra session every week. The start of the new academic year in September saw my 10th anniversary teaching Creative Writing, which I still can’t quite believe.

• Continue teaching Tim
I will be continuing to teach Tim for the rest of the year, while he also attends college three days a week and still needs ongoing support. I cannot quite believe how far he’s come – it’s marvellous to see how well he is coping in a course for neuro-typical students, as he’s busy making new friends and extending his musical skills.

• Continue getting fitter
This was an epic fail. I was enjoying my Pilates and Fitstep classes, but as the year wore on I found it increasingly difficult to keep my attendance regular and finally, regretfully, I gave up first the Fitstep class and then the Pilates class as my energy drained away. I am hoping to resume my Pilates classes next week. Wish me luck!

As you can see, it’s been a mixed year. Overall, I’m reasonably happy with the results, given how my illness impacted my productivity and I’m hoping to put in place some lifestyle changes to help me stay healthy during the coming year. I have already set my targets for my Shoot for the Moon Challenge 2019 – I will be sharing them on the blog at the end of January. In the meantime, have a peaceful, healthy year, everyone – hopefully with lots of wonderful books to get lost in. Thank you all for your kind comments, likes and visits – even during the dark times when I couldn’t summon up the energy to post, I always found the kindness and good will evident within our blogging community a continual source of encouragement.

24 responses »

  1. Happy New Year Sarah! I’m glad you’re feeling better. I’m always amazed at how many books you manage to read each year and still do all the other things you do. Any tips would be appreciated 😁

  2. You’ve done so much this year, Sarah! How do you manage to read so much in a year? Teach me your ways, Master! 😅

    I can totally relate to the fitness thing. I pick up running ever couple of months and then give after a while. Let’s see if I’m more regular in 2019. 😅

  3. I think you had a pretty amazing year overall, especially considering that you were dealing with some health issues. I hope that 2019 is even more successful for you. Good luck getting back into your exercise classes!

  4. With all of these commitments heaped in front of you I had to wonder if maybe you found the way to stretch the hours in each day to twice their length – or did you acquire Hermione’s magical gizmo? 😀
    That said, you should be more than proud of what you achieved: congratulations!!!!
    And here’s to a greater and better 2019! 😉

    • I could certainly have done with a timeturner, Maddalena! Thank you for your kind words – overall, I feel pleased with my progress, given that my illness really compromised my ability to work;). And a very happy 2019!

  5. Wow, that’s an amazing year when you put it all down on paper like that. I think maybe you pushed yourself very hard last year though. Take care and Happy New Year to you. Hope 2019 is a wonderful year.
    Lynn :

  6. I still need to buy my copy of Running Out of Space! (*hides in shame*) The past couple months have been a blur for me, too, though. So I sort of know how you felt at the end of the year.

    But honestly, Sarah, you accomplished a lot last year. Not everything went your way, but the big thing to remember with the writing-related goals is that everything is a process… and sometimes, that process takes longer than we think it will. And sometimes our priorities change (mine certainly did), or we have to reshuffle them for one reason for another. In terms of juggling your various goals and projects, I think you did as well as you could have, and you have much to be proud of.

    And do remember to take care of yourself, too. It’s good to have a lot of goals and projects, but none of it is worth compromising your health and well-being. Maybe it might be worth trying for a better balance (or balance-ish?) between your creative goals and your wellness goals in 2019?

    • Thank you for your kind concern, Sara – and your very sensible observations regarding a better life/work balance. As it happens, I’ve also drawn up a set of goals to help achieve this. I’ll be blogging about this soon.

  7. I love your approach to goals: be unrealistic to push yourself to do more. In the end, the amount of books read alone is jaw-dropping, and you managed so much on top of that.
    I really hope that 2019 was equally productive, and will be looking forward to catching up!

    • Thank you! I am a goal-oriented person and very much a mono-tasker, but I’m always aware that goals make a good servant and a lethal master. Over the years, I’ve learnt that lesson the hard way!

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