2018 Writing Goals: Looking Back

On January 1, 2018, I published this post: 2018 Writing Goals. Today, on December 31, 2018, it’s time to look back at how I did with those goals. (And tomorrow, January 1, 2019, I’ll be looking at the writing year ahead.)

So, here are my goals for the past year and a report on the status as of today.

  1. Finish Edits on Novel under Contract. DONE! This took longer than I anticipated, but by late summer I had agreed on edits with the publisher and by early fall I was able to approach potential blurb-providers with the final text of the book. So the goal was met. And the current status is that galleys and the cover are being finalized and ARCs will soon be available. We decided to push the official publication date back to May 14, 2019, but otherwise nothing has changed (we’ll still have early copies in March for AWP and other appearances I have planned). Stay tuned for more information about The Shaman of Turtle Valley, forthcoming from Braddock Avenue Books.
  2. Compile the Anthology under Contract. DONE! This went perfectly according to plan. In the first three months of the year I selected the twenty stories for the anthology and then worked on edits. The manuscript was finalized by late summer and was published in October. Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet Volume III is available from Press 53 (along with the earlier volumes, of course).
  3. Find a publisher for my novel. DONE! I had two competing impulses here. First, I suspected that the best and quickest route for publication of this book would be a small press (desirable because it won’t be long before I have another novel that I’d like to send to bigger presses), so I started sending it around to some likely publishers. But, second, I also felt that it hadn’t been given a real shot at bigger presses because it had been orphaned when I split from the agent who had started to send it out on submission. Because it had already been out, I assumed I needed to do a major revision and change the title (nobody wants to look at something they’ve already seen). In order to accomplish that, I engaged a developmental editor who gave me the feedback I needed (and, frankly, suspected) and I began to revise with a plan to query agents once the process was done. In the meantime, though, one of the small presses I’d submitted to offered to publish the book in its original form. After I explained the changes I wanted to make based on the editorial feedback, they still wanted to publish it, so we signed a contract and I proceed to do the revisions, which I finished in late summer. Oliver’s Travels will be published by Regal House Publishing in fall of 2020. (The very long lead time is the result of the other books I have in the works.)
  4. Finish the new story collection. DONE! At the end of 2017, I realized I had quite a few uncollected stories that had been published and several unpublished ones as well. It wasn’t quite enough for a book, though, so I needed to write a few more. In February I had the opportunity to head off to VCCA for just five days and that was the most productive five days of writing I’ve ever had. Not only did I finish several new stories, I assembled a manuscript that I was ready to submit. Because Press 53 had published my previous collections, I wanted to give them the first opportunity to consider the new book and we eventually agreed that they would publish House of the Ancients and Other Stories in spring of 2020. I’ve also been submitting the new stories for publication, several of which have been accepted. Only one of those remains unclaimed and I’ll start submitting it again in the new year.
  5. Finish the new novel. NOT Done. I was very optimistic to think that I would finish the new novel by the end of the year, but part of the reason I didn’t was that so many other things were going on with the other four books that I wasn’t able to really focus on this one. I did, however, have a wonderful residency at the end of the year at VCCA France and will be kicking off the new year with another residency (at Ragdale), so I am making progress. The book will get done in 2019, I hope.
  6. Query agents. NOT Done. This one depended on finishing the new novel, which didn’t happen. I do think the novel has commercial potential, though, so I’m looking forward to shopping it to agents when it’s ready.
  7. Dabble in the essay form. NOT Done. I didn’t work on essays this year, but I did read a number of personal essays that I thoroughly enjoyed, so I feel as though I’m preparing to essay an essay or two. (See what I did there?)

I don’t know about you, but it feels like it’s been a pretty darn successful writing year. I didn’t meet the stretch goals, but frankly I did far more than I thought was possible. On to 2019!

About the author


  1. Anyone who knows Cliff Garstang knows this:
    Cliff represents all that is best about writers and the writing life. A wonderful writer, teacher, and colleague, he is dedicated,honest, and a dear friend to all who love the work.

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