Reflecting on Writing: 2023
Reflections, revelations. (Estimated reading time: 3 mins)
Last year, I set three writing-related goals for myself:1. Continue scheduling designated writing time
Structured writing time lasted a few months before dissolving. I will allow myself to make excuses. It’s been an exciting, busy, difficult, and emotionally charged year. My writing didn’t manifest the way I expected it to, and that’s okay. You can prop a climbing plant against a trellis, but ultimately the direction of growth is out of your control.2. Continue focusing on craft
I feel successful! I took a fiction workshop class, creative nonfiction class, finished my English minor, and submitted MFA applications. Three of my short stories appeared in publications (see elsewhere on my website to read them!).
I particularly enjoyed my creative nonfiction class. Previously, I had no experience with creative nonfiction, but I’ve come to really enjoy it – turning my own memories and experiences in art.3. Write things I enjoy
I anticipated that writing what I enjoy would mean returning to “low brow” genres, but instead I found myself drifting toward creative nonfiction, letter-writing, and journaling. Looking back on this year, it may appear I didn’t write as prolifically as in 2022, especially because I worked a full-time job over the summer and my writing schedule fell through. But this isn’t necessarily true – my writing just looked different.
Over the summer, being thousands of miles away from my friends and family, I began to appreciate the art of letter-writing. There is something so gentle and intimate about sitting down to craft a handwritten letter for someone. I enjoy the chance to recall a story, how slow it is, the physicality of it. In Anchorage, I was too cheap and carless to buy envelopes, so I cut and folded my own out of paper bags or printer paper. As friends graduate and move away, or I meet people in places where I am only a transient visitor, I take comfort in letters. I usually forget the contents soon after I put it in the mail; each envelope contains a little story that I will never see again.
I also really enjoyed journaling this year. I have been a casual journal-keeper through most of high school and college, but this year it became especially instrumental to how I move through the world. Last year I experienced the end of a long-term relationship; for years, I processed information, obstacles, and revelations by sharing them with that person. When we parted ways, I realized the power of conversing with myself. Now every journaling session feels like a different type of letter-writing, addressed to my oldest and most complicated friend (myself).
It's hard to say what this next year will look like. In May, I graduate with my mechanical engineering degree and jump off the end of the metaphorical diving board (or the cliff, if I’m feeling fatalistic). I spent the last few months dissecting my relationship with writing and struggling to package the entrails into something palatable for grad school applications. What I want to remember, most of all, is that I love writing. It can be so hard to start, especially on days when it feels like the world is caving in over and around me. But every time I overcome that barrier to entry, the result is wonderful. My writing goal for 2024: remember that when writing feels futile, that is the time you need it most.