In which I am surprised by the results of my 2016 poetry plan

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So. Yeah. 2016. Way to really suck. That’s the general consensus, right? This story easily represents its trajectory: I PR’d in March when I ran a 5K at a sub-10:00 pace, but by year’s end I was barely running at all and gaining weight. By other measures — including the infamous election results and my mood (which is definitely related) — the downward spiral was the same. Sure, there were times in 2016 in which I couldn’t have been happier, but I ended the year (and started the new one) crying on the floor of a hotel bathroom, “All is lost, and nothing good is coming. And why did I have so much to drink?

That’s why I was totally surprised when I started evaluating progress on my official 2016 writing /poetry goals (which I recently had to repost after realizing I’d somehow managed to delete them). According to my mood related to writing in 2016, I believed I’d failed every goal I’d set. Turns out, I totally nailed it.

I have hardly anything to show for it in terms of publication credits, however, and maybe that’s where I was going wrong emotionally. It’s a false measure, and I know it. In fact, nowhere in my goals does it say PUBLISH OR PERISH (or any such nonsense). Instead, it says PUT IN THE WORK. And I did (which I didn’t realize until I took this look back).


Goal #1 / Finish revisions on poetry manuscript & send it out.

SUCCESS! –> I completed the revisions, and I sent it out to 13 calls-for-submission & contests. I also received 13 rejections. While I was discouraged (overall), I did feel good that 1/4-1/3 of them were returned with notes indicating the manuscript was a strong contender.

Goal #2 / Write 6 new drafts each month (including 3 poems)

SUCCESS! –> I wrote 27 blog posts, 2 essays and (at least) 38 poems.

Goal #3 / Submit work regularly (specifically: submit to 25 publications over the course of the year)

SUCCESS! –> In 2016, I submitted poems to 24 publications. I received 20 rejections. I had 2 poems published & 1 forthcoming. One is still under review.


Goal #4 / (Re)establish community (specifically: attend 1 poetry event or write review each month & start a new online prompt community)

SUCCESS! (almost) –> I wrote 2 reviews (Sarah Freliigh’s Sad Math and BJ Hollars’ This Is Only A Test) & attended 8 readings:

  • Albany Poets Presents Dan Wilcox (February)
  • The last Live from the Living Room  (March)
  • Arthur’s Market (May & September)
  • Albany Poets Presents Mary Panza (June)
  • Second Sunday (September)
  • Poets Speak Loud (October)
  • Breathing Lights (November)

In addition, I started an unexpected and delightful correspondence with Ren & exchanged poetry packets with jillypoet.

I started an online poetry prompt community (Not A Literary Journal). I also deactivated that community after it failed to get off the ground.

Goal #5 / Go on 3 poetry “adventures”

SUCCESS! –> I completed 5 plus a surprise one from my man:

  • Saratoga (solo, January)
  • Saratoga (with jillypoet, April)
  • boudoir photo shoot (May)
  • Rochester road trip (to see Sarah Freligh & have a mini “boot camp,” July)
  • day trip to The Clark (with jillypoet, September)
  • hike to the Overlook Hotel (the surprise poetry adventure, October)

Soon, I’ll set my 2017 writing/poetry goals. Spoiler alert: they’ll probably look a lot like these. (BTW, I know this is really only interesting to me, but the blog helps me document things like this. So suck it up, Buttercup.)


  1. Carolee: I found this fun, interesting, and extremely helpful. I reviewed your goals in terms of my own writing aspirations and modified them to suit my own aspirations…..thank you for sharing this Ginny

  2. You rock! We had similar years with our bodies/exercise, and though I didn’t submit or publish as much this year, I did stick to my plan. Shall we trade plans for the new year? Let me know and we can exchange by email.

  3. This was so inspiring! I had given up thinking about setting goals. This has been the least new year’s-y feeling new year of my life. But the correspondence project has really kept me going. And will keep me going… You are an inspiration. … So: I will get to work. Thank you.

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