I know, I know. Everyone is waving an enthusiastic sayonara to 2020 and never looking back, the expectations high for 2021. I don’t know whether to wish the new year good luck meeting everyone’s extreme expectations for improvement, or congratulate it on the fact that it won’t have to work very hard to seem better than its predecessor. Either way, as I sit here on December 31 reflecting on my year in writing, it was a pretty good one. (And yes, 2021, my writing and I have high expectations for you, too.)
The first week of the year, I entered three different writing contests. I didn’t win any of them, but putting my work out there is a huge accomplishment in and of itself (and one of the photos I entered in one of the writing/photography contests did earn second place).
Before the month was over, I taught two, single-session writing classes for the dog handlers of Canine Adventure, Richmond. This experience was a lot of fun because it combined two of my favorites: writing and dogs. In addition, I got to meet some fellow dog-loving writers, and give them some resources to further their own writing endeavors.
I also wrote two pieces for The Village News and one for the AKC.
In February, I wrote a piece for Everyday Dog Magazine, which ran March 1. I also wrote another piece for The Village News, in addition to submitting work to two small presses.
Things got a little crazy in March, as we are all aware, but I did compose a blog post to help parents navigate the whole, then-brand new school-at-home thing. I also wrote an article for The Village News about a local, self-published author, especially fun because I love when I can use my own writing to support other writers in theirs.
In April I managed to write 30 poems in 30 days as part of the Poetry Society of Virginia National Poetry Month Challenge. I also attended two virtual Master Classes on self-publishing, both organized by James River Writers. One was taught by Tee Garner, the other by Ran Walker.
This month, I also wrote my first Covid-related article, a piece about a local emergency nurse deployed to what was then ground-zero of the virus: New York City.
May was particularly exciting, as I learned a piece I wrote about Jack and Sadie was selected to appear in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Dogs. The story, an unabridged version of which appears on this blog, is one extremely close to my heart.
I wrote my second and third Covid-related pieces, both of which focused on local businesses. The first was an article about a how a local barbecue restaurant was serving the community and surviving the pandemic. The second focused on how a local hair salon planned to reopen under the Governor’s Phase I Guidelines in Virginia.
Near the end of the month, I learned my essay “My Return to Mountain Biking” earned first place in the Bike Walk RVA essay contest.
Finally, for the first time ever, I opened the blog up to guest posts, and enjoyed reading submissions from writers about their beloved dogs.
In June, I participated in a virtual event honoring the winners of the Bike Walk RVA essay contest, and collaborated with QueryLetter.com on a blog post about query letters.
I again found myself working with the folks at QueryLetter.com to share a blog post, this time about book blurbs.
This was also the month The Magic of Dogs was released (on the same day as our wedding anniversary), and the month I received my copies of the book.
In August, things were kind of quiet in my writing world, but I did compose a blog post for teachers about back-to-school amid the pandemic. I was also hired as the Outdoor Writer for Cooperative Living Magazine, a role I am still extremely excited about.
In September, I partnered up with Cool Canines to host a virtual book signing, reading, and fundraiser for the Richmond SPCA. Dog treats and signed copies of The Magic of Dogs raised $178 for the shelter.
I also read and reviewed Mary Oliver’s collection of poems, Dog Songs.
After an editor at a small press provided me with very thorough and valuable feedback on my manuscript for An Expected End, I began earnestly to revise. I also wrote a blog post and a few poems, as well as an essay entitled “Pandemic Picture Day,” which was published on the United States Department of Education blog.
Before the month’s end, I finally figured out how to share “Sadie’s Song” online. The song is a collaboration between my uncle and me. It began as a poem I wrote back in April, which he then set to original music.
In November, I interviewed a Covid-19 survivor and told his harrowing survival story in an article in The Village News. I also continued working on revisions of An Expected End.
As the year winds down, I have heard from the small press I have been in contact with that my piece isn’t for them, but I am still grateful for the communication with them, and for the guidance they provided me, as well as for the resulting revisions, which I believe make my manuscript that much stronger.
Following that news, I entered my manuscript in the Inkshares All-Genre Manuscript Contest. Please feel free to support my endeavor there! 😉
I also embarked on my first adventure for Cooperative Living Magazine, a weekend at Twin Lakes State Park, and I eagerly await the publication of the piece next month (next year!).
I learned about another small press, TCK Publishing, when they reached out to me about writing a book review for them. I read the book, wrote the review, and submitted my own manuscript for consideration.
Currently, I am also holding my first-ever giveaway on Instagram–signed copies of Chicken Soup for the the Soul: The Magic of Dogs and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive, Live Happy. The winner will be announced on Instagram tomorrow (next year!).
This year held both disappointments and rewards for my writing life. The rewards were validating and exhilarating; the disappointments yielded progress and growth. Here’s to a successful 2021!
© Amanda Sue Creasey