Year Out, Year In

Out with the old, in with the new

Although COVID-19 is still with us, 2023 saw a return to almost normal. I went to plays and concerts, I ate in restaurants, I spent a few weeks in Europe, and I wrote for three weeks at an arts residency. Pretty normal.

And what did I accomplish this year? At the end of last year, I evaluated my progress toward the previous year’s goals and set a few new ones. You can read about those here.

The biggest accomplishment of the year was that I found a publisher for my new novel and spent a lot of time getting the manuscript ready for publication. The Last Bird of Paradise will be published on February 22, 2024. It’s currently available for pre-order from the publisher (and on the usual online bookseller sites).

One of my goals for the year was to work on a new novel. Early in the year, I was actually working on two, one of which I decided to set aside. The other project is moving forward and is very different from anything I’ve done before. That’s about all I can say about it at this point, although I am enjoying working on it for now.

I also wanted to finally turn my attention to personal essays, but the only movement I made in that direction was to read a few collections of essays. Maybe next year will be the year. (I said that last year.)

Some other accomplishments:

  • I wrote a post in which I celebrated my 70th birthday by looking back at where I was at ten-year intervals. Some people found that interesting, and I did too. Nothing like a little self-reflection at significant moments of your life. (Maybe I did write a personal essay, come to think of it.)
  • I posted the annual update of my Literary Magazine Rankings. This is something a lot of people appreciate as an aid to submitting their work to literary magazines. It takes a good deal of time, but I’m happy to provide it to the writing community.
  • The audiobook version of my novel Oliver’s Travels came out. I didn’t have much to do with that other than approve the selection of the voice actor who did the narration.
  • I did some book reviews and also provided blurbs for several new books.
  • I converted my newsletter into a Substack with a bit more focus on writing. You can see past issues and subscribe for free here.

Plus, I have goals for the new year, of course:

  • The new book is coming out, but I need to do my best to spread the word. Keep an eye on my Events page for news of in-person and online appearances.
  • I intend to finish a draft of my next book. It’s a short one, I think, so this should be doable. Famous last words.
  • I’m definitely going to try my hand at a personal essay and see if I can get it published.
  • I’ve written some poems I like and I plan to start sending them out to magazines.
  • I’m going to be doing a bit of teaching, something I haven’t been doing much of lately.
  • I’ll most likely make another trip (or two) abroad. Where should I go?

Finally, it was another good year in reading, although I just barely made my goal of reading 60 books for the year. There are so many wonderful books, including dozens in piles on the floor of my office, so I need to do better!

Happy New Year!

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