Mid-Year Goal Update (Pt. 1)

Well, that didn’t go as planned.

The following is a refresh on the goals I set at the start of 2019 and how they’ve shaken out for me so far now that we’re halfway through the year. To see how I’m planning out the next three months of the year (yes, I decided six was a tad ambitious), read part two.

Writing Goals

  • Write a minimum of ten new poems.

I’m actually up to eight! This, for me, is quite the feat. Really, though, only four of these are going to move beyond a first draft, so that’s all I’m going to count. Still, having written eight full drafts of entirely new poems is more progress than I expected to have made at this point in the year.

  • Write one short story.

Ha ha ha

  • Apply to two writers’ workshops.

I applied to one, was waitlisted, and ultimately didn’t get in. I made this goal before I had concrete plans to take my first trip abroad though (Dublin, see you in August), so, due to finances, and the lack of my remaining work PTO, I’m not going to apply to a second until I know I’ll be an a better position to attend should I be accepted.

  • Submit to at least two literary journals every other month.

Ha. I’ve applied to a single journal so far this year, and within two weeks received my (expected) rejection. This is a goal I’ve had to reevaluate. I haven’t felt able to submit anything because I haven’t felt comfortable with any of my recent drafts yet. Which is why I reevaluated this goal for the upcoming quarter of the year, something I talk about in part two.

  • Post one topic-based post at least once every two weeks.

This proved to be way too ambitious for me. I enjoy posting here, but I was spending more time working on this site than I was actually working on my writing, which–and I see the irony here–I’ve posted about. I’ve been refining what this site, and its posts, look like, and I’ll also get to that in part two.

  • Attend at least three South Carolina Poetry Society readings and workshops.

I haven’t gone to any. It looks like the society is in the off-season until at least September, too, and they don’t have an upcoming event calendar for me to plan to attend any specific ones in advance (which is really what I should have done in the first place). So, I guess we’re pressing pause on this one.

Reading Goals

  • Read eight books of poetry (at least four of which were published in the last two years).

I’ve made slow progress here, but I have so far read two of the books from my listWhereas by Layli Long Solider, and The Tradition by Jericho Brown.

  • Subscribe to and read two literary journals (one big name, one small name).

I subscribed to Crazyhorse and the Birmingham Poetry Review. I’ve already received this year’s edition of Crazyhorse, and have been making my way very, very slowly through it. I have yet to receive this year’s issue of BPR. 

  • Read five prose books, full-length or shorts collected.

From my list, the only prose book I’ve finished is H is for Hawk, which I absolutely loved. I really, really tried with American Originality, not for the first time I might add, but, as much as I love Louise Glück’s poetry, I simply could not bring myself to finish these essays. Still, I did listen to Michele Obama’s Becoming on Audible, and Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. I got three-fourths of the way through listening to Hope Jahren’s Lab Girl, a book I also really, really wanted to love, but also couldn’t finish for a number of reasons.

I’ve been listening to Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine for about a week, an eleven-hour listen, and I’m already over halfway through it. I love audiobooks, but that’s still a quick pace for me. I was hesitant to read this book for a while now, despite how much praise I’ve heard for it, but I’m really enjoying it. It’s one of those ones I’m not ready to be done with.

And, after telling myself I was going to walk into the Barnes & Nobel next to my apartment and buy the first book that really grabbed my attention, I finished Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane just a couple days ago and I absolutely loved it. I paused reading Ocean Vuong’s new novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, to read that one. Gorgeous is, well, absolutely gorgeous, but it’s one of those reads where I find myself having to stop and process or re-read passages over and over again because there’s so much packed into every single sentence. Now that I’ve had a bit of palate cleanser (though Ask Again, Yes was just as beautiful and heartheavy), I’ve picked it back up again.

And (she adds in soto voce) I read all nearly-four-hundred pages of Invisible by Dan Patterson in less than five days. I wanted to read a trashy murder mystery novel, and that’s exactly what I got. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

So I’ve finished reading five prose books, and am well on my way to finishing two more, and I still have most of the books on my list still to get to. I wouldn’t appear to have a problem reading, but I have had some trouble sticking to my list it seems.

Running Goals

  • Run in two official half marathons.

I have one scheduled for November, and another in January. (I realize the latter is technically in 2020, but I will have done all my training for it in 2019, and I can’t control when races are scheduled, so I’m counting it, the end.)

  • Run in one 10k.

Done.

  • Post a running log for every run I go on.

Another that proved too ambitious for me. I did keep up with this for longer than I expected (note to self: if you’re expecting from the get-go to fail at a goal, maybe set a different goal), and you can read those underneath my Run Logs tab, but they, again, were too time-consuming, and I wasn’t getting what I wanted out of them. I’ve gone back to my old format of posting an Instagram to my running account, @larkelruns, after each run, and this has proven much more efficient while suiting my needs for reporting on my runs.

  • Run a minimum fifteen miles a week.

I’m honestly not sure what I was thinking when I set this goal. For me, fifteen miles a week is really only feasible or necessary if I’m training for a specific race, one longer than a 10k. With my first half marathon not coming up until November, I haven’t met this goal but twice this year (marathon week notwithstanding). While I was participating in the Runner’s World Run Streak (from Memorial Day to the 4th of July), I averaged thirteen miles a week, hitting fifteen once during that time. But before I started this challenge at the end of May, I was lucky to be running eight-mile weeks at the very most. I’m actually glad I’ve failed at this goal. I’ve learned a lot about my body’s limits, and, since doing the run streak, I’ve redefined them. There’ll be a run journal on this streak coming in the next couple weeks.

 

Having written all of this out, I actually feel a little better and more confident about where things stand at this point in the year than I did when I first began reflecting on these. But, since the start of May at the latest, I’ve felt behind. Not just in terms of making progress toward results, but in my mindset. The only things I’ve prioritized have been reading and running, which is well and good, but I haven’t been writing, and that was really the thing I wanted to focus on most this year. So, despite the progress that I have made so far, I want to be writing more, I want to be reading more poetry, and I want to be better using this site (since that hasn’t exactly gone as planned, either). So, I decided to reframe my goals, and give myself three specific ones to complete in a thirteen-week time frame. What those goals are, and why I decided to do this, can be found in part two of this post.

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