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2016 Year In Review: Hopes, Revisited

A photo by SpaceX. unsplash.com/photos/TV2gg2kZD1oLast year, on New Year’s Day, I wrote the following hopes for 2016 in my journal. I didn’t print them out or look at them again until this morning, when I was trying to figure out how to write this post, and decided to check back and see if I’d written anything at the start of 2016. I rediscovered this list. They weren’t resolutions or goals, which I tend to make throughout the year whenever I feel a change is needed. They were just hopes: some required work, some required luck.

Here are last year’s dreams, and their results:

  1. A successful, safe and healthy pregnancy. Yes! I got pregnant about a month later and delivered a beautiful baby girl in October. (The fact that she’s a girl, after already having a boy, is a bonus dream.) She is now happily snuggled on my lap as I write this, smiling and cooing and looking so beautiful that I can’t quite focus!
  2. A celebratory trip with Nick. Twice, although the first one didn’t exactly go as planned. In February, we planned a 4-day weekend in Jamaica that got canceled because of the Zika blowup right around that time and the fact that we were TTC (trying to conceive). (In fact, I already was pregnant but didn’t know it yet. A huge thanks to my dad for warning us about the Zika situation before we were aware of it. It would have been terrifying if we’d gone, returned to find out I was pregnant, and then had to wait and see if I’d been infected.) Luckily, we got our money back thanks to a doctor’s note and the CDC making the pregnancy warning official. We went to Woodstock, Vermont instead. Not the tropical paradise we’d wanted, but a beautiful trip all the same. We also spent a night in New York City over the summer to celebrate our 35th birthdays, including fantastic restaurants and a mind-blowing jazz show at Birdland.
  3. More fun, everyday memories with Nick and Edwin while Edwin’s still an only child. This is harder to quantify, but I kept it in the front of my mind, and went out of my way to make special memories with my boys over the summer. I’d say yes. 
  4. An agent signing my book. YES! This happened in March. I couldn’t be happier with Suzie. We’re submitting a new and improved draft of my Triangle Fire book (now titled BEFORE THE FIRE) in January. 
  5. A complete first draft for BLIZZARD. Also yes! I finished the draft earlier than expected, in August, thanks to new productivity techniques. Bonus: I wrote an entire first draft of a YA novel too, thanks to NaNoWriMo
  6. A launched blogged-book, with strong promotion and the ability to move forward with a traditional or e-book, or both. I did extensive prep work and launched “The Creativity Perspective” in June. I’m very proud of the work I did on that site, even though I decided to shut it down just two months later to focus on my fiction and personal essay projects. It was a great experience for me, and as I was super-organized about all my research and posts, I’m not completely closing the door on that project just yet. I may pick it up in months or years. 
  7. “Expert” status on my blogged-book topic. I wouldn’t say I achieved this. It was an extremely lofty dream for one year. I did a lot of research, but “expert” status also refers to marketing and exposure, and I wasn’t active on the project nearly long enough for that. 
  8. The close of an excellent school year, with more successful (less stressful) recruitment. Last year was my favorite school year yet. I felt so fulfilled at work, and loved my students. The start of this school year also went very well, even though I was only there for a few weeks. Recruitment (my least favorite part of the year) did go very well, although I wouldn’t say it was less stressful. It will probably always be stressful to me. My anxiety wasn’t helped by the pregnancy hormones. 
  9. The publishing of short stories, magazine articles and guest blog posts galore. I did a few guest blog posts and recently had an essay accepted for publication to the online journal Mothers Always Write. I didn’t get any new short stories published, but I did send a few to my agent for her film rights agent to shop around (!!). I’m proudest of the fact that I wrote more short fiction and personal essays this year, and that I came up with a system that resulted in a huge increase in the number of submissions I’m sending out. (I haven’t done the numbers, but I imagine it’s in the vicinity of 500% more than last year.) I’m getting rejections, but many are coming back with very complimentary, encouraging notes from editors. Bonus: I was accepted to the July performance of “Writers Read” in NYC, and got to read my essay, “The Gondola Ride,” live at The Cell. 
  10. Attendance at WD conference and the Sea Girt retreat. I did go to Sea Girt, but instead of WDC I went to Hippocamp. I’m so glad I did; it resulted in giant leaps of learning and understanding of what I wanted for my writing future. I’m planning on attending WDC this year, though: I missed it! 
  11. Health and happiness for all my friends and family. Very gratefully, yes. In particular, my sister, who has suffered with chronic Lyme Disease for years, has improved so much this year, and made huge strides in her work and personal life as a result. I’m so grateful and proud of her. 
  12. Some special girl time with my BFF Laura. Yes! We went on a girl’s trip to Vermont (yes, that’s twice in one year- Vermont is a fave) in August and had an amazing time.

I’m pleased to see that my forgotten hopes for 2016 panned out so well. It’s really been a terrific year for me, which makes me feel slightly guilty, because it’s been so horrible for other people. But we all have up years and down years, and I’m going to appreciate this current high while I’m living it.

What were your hopes for 2016? Did any of them come true? 

4 Responses to “2016 Year In Review: Hopes, Revisited”

  1. Sara L. says:

    Wow. When looking at that list, Leanne, you really did have an amazing year. 🙂 I’m just wrapping up my own year-end post (going live next Tuesday), but I was pleased with how 2016 turned out on a personal level, too. My biggest hope was to finish Draft #3 of my novel before the end of the year, so I could get the manuscript out to beta-readers in January 2017… and despite how crazy-busy the year was, I still managed to get there.

    Btw, I’m planning to send the manuscript to you during the weekend of January 7th. Is that OK?

  2. What a fabulous year! Congratulations on all your accomplishments. You obviously worked hard and I hope you continue to reap the rewards. I ‘ve enjoyed following your progress and being inspired by your productivity.

    My 2016 was also excellent and I made progress in a number of areas, including earning the first freelance income I’ve had in years! (I also share your guilty feelings about having a good year when others have had such awful ones!) I want to step up my productivity in 2017. I’ve spent a good portion of the past year trying to figure out what I want to focus my writing efforts on, and I’m spending time this week brainstorming and planning for next year.

    Here’s to a fabulous 2017!

    • Leanne Sowul says:

      Thank you, Kathy! It’s funny, I guess I did work hard, but I loved all of the work, so it never felt that way. I’d say the thing that felt hardest was the pregnancy, not the writing or my teaching job. It’s so hard to lose control of energy levels and hormones.

      Congrats on your freelance work! That’s awesome. Enjoy your brainstorming time 🙂

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