Goals for 2016

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#squadgoals (via)

I am not making new year’s resolutions for 2016, but I am setting some goals. Many of them are writing-related, but not all of them are.

In 2016, I’d like to see the following happen:

  • Get bylines in five big wish list publications
  • Triple the number of The Sleeper Hit TinyLetter subscribers 
  • Get a literary agent by summer
  • Query 20 publishers by fall
  • Have a commitment to publish by the end of the year (even if it’s me, committing to self-publishing)

In non-writing goals, I hope to: 

  • Adopt a cat
  • Keep in closer touch with friends, be it through email, text, or travel
  • Bike 500 miles
  • Learn to play the ukulele
  • Either get the tattoo I’ve been thinking about for my 30th birthday or decide it’s not for me
  • Have an additional $3,000 in savings 
  • Send more mail to loved ones
  • Collaborate on at least one creative project with someone whose work I admire (any takers?)

I also hope to stay active with the Rose City Wreckers and keep in great shape, but for the first New Year’s in a long time, I don’t have a weightloss goal/scale number in mind.

What’s on your 2016 agenda/to-do list?

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2015 Year in Review

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Photo courtesy of Sam Matthews.

I ended it in a better state than I started it.

January: Told friends and family I was going to move to Portland, likely in the summer if not sooner. Started my intro level roller derby practices in Oak Park.

February: Started my Feminine Comique intro to stand-up comedy class. Took a sexual harasser to court. Hosted a fun Galentines Day brunch with 20+ women I like being around. Adele and I found out our apartment was being sold, so I had to find a new plan of where to live between April and July.

March: Did my stand-up class’s final show. Told my company I was moving and asked to keep my job remotely. Started the Addison Recorded podcast with Gina, a six-week project. Turned 29. Got rid of most of my belongings in preparation for the Portland move. Set a move date for July.

April: Started a video project in which I took two-second video clips of my last 100 days of living in Chicago. Visited Portland during the rainy season to make sure I wanted to live there, AND saw the Rose City Rollers play for the first time. Concluded the podcast. Started a personal email newsletter. Moved in with Christina and John, bookending my time in Chicago in the house where I began those five years.

May: Started an ASL class with Christina, who was interested in learning. Saw my first USARS bout. My brother visited Chicago for a work conference, and then came back with his whole family a couple weeks later. Did a radio interview with WGN about Shine Theory. Saw Jenny Lewis play. Went home to Ohio for Memorial Day.

June: I got to officially announce that my company was letting me keep my job, six weeks before my move date. Did two live lit shows. Threw myself literally five going away parties. Saw Best Coast play. Gave away and sold more of my stuff.

July: Spent most of 4th of July weekend with Stef, who was planning a move to Boston just weeks after my Portland move. Put most of my new remaining belongings on an Amtrak shipment with the help of the Beans. Went to a music festival with Liz. Picked my dad up from O’Hare and drove west for 2,400 miles. Bought a couch.

August: Made new friends at a coworking space. Wrote a bunch of my book. Started writing for The Billfold. Got an essay accepted for a print anthology. Hung out with Brianne in both Oregon and Washington. Saw Jenny Lewis play twice in one weekend. Went hiking a lot with Betsy, Christina, and Kiernan. Drove to Olympia to see Paul.

September: Saw Horse Feathers play with Sam. Went to Wreckers orientation so I could start skating for Portland. Wrote more of my book and had work published more frequently on HelloGiggles. Hosted the first of many girls nights with my new Portland lady friends.

October: Went to Chicago. Went to Salt Lake City. Went to Ohio. Attended three weddings in 10 days. Jeanne came up from San Francisco to stay with me for a week. On a plane between SLC and PDX, wrote an essay about the summer I worked as a hotel housekeeper. Laura came out to celebrate Halloween the Portland way.

November: Went to the Bookmark Ball with Sam. Attended a memoir writing workshop at Wordstock. Wrote a huge chunk of my book. Took a slightly-impromptu trip to Seattle to attend an investigative reporting seminar. Crashed with Evan, Blue Star donuts in hand. Got to interview the Gilmore Guys. Got walking pneumonia but didn’t figure it out for a while. Ran a Turkey Trot, kind of. Had Thanksgiving with Yeng.

December: Went to Chicago. Went to Boston. Went to Ohio. Went back to Boston. Got to interview Ann Friedman. Hung out with Eileen, Margaret, and Liz in New Bedford. Saw Death Cab for Cutie. Bought everyone on my Christmas list a book. Spent New Year’s with Stef.

2015: Freelancing Recap

This was the year in which I finally started taking freelancing seriously, and decided to stop feeling anxious about pitching publications, large or small. I made a joke on Twitter at some point this summer that I was getting rejected by the biggest names in the biz, and I said it half-pridefully. Putting myself out there and dusting my shoulders off made a difference, and that boldness landed me some big wins. I have to wait until 2016 to share some of them, but for the coming year, I look forward to a bigger and better showing of my work.

As of today, in 2015, I have had 38 paid bylines in 8 publications – I’ve got up to four more that might still run this year. At the beginning of 2015 I was mostly doing local listicles for Chicago NewsCastic. I stopped writing for them in March when, as my client list grew, I decided I could do better. At first this gamble didn’t feel like it would pay off – I hit a dry spell over the summer, between my cross-country move and getting turned down by a handful of big publications from my dream wish list.

Then at the end of that dry summer, I got scooped up by The Billfold after pitching an editor I’d long admired and whose career I’d been paying close attention to. Around that time, my newsletter list started to grow more and more. I got essays picked up by Little Fiction | Big Truth (print anthology coming in 2016) and Story Club Magazine. An editor at HelloGiggles saw potential in me and asked me to start pitching her directly. I began landing interviews with people I admire and got to do pieces I cared about, more and more.

In the first quarter of 2016, I will have not one, but two pieces, on a site that has long been on my dream list; I am slated to have a piece in a print, local Portland alternative weekly, after months of hoping to find a place in the local scene; and a piece for which I got to interview women writers I admire will run the first week of January. I still have my dreamlist of publications, and I hope I can crack into three to five of them in the next 12 months.

Also this year, I wrote a (nearly finished!) first draft of my book, which I expect to take up most of my brain space in the coming year as I try to find an agent and publisher. I hope to get some excerpts from the book published on sites early on, so hopefully I can achieve a couple 2016 goals at the same time.

To round things out, a list – since that is the format in which this site’s 2008 origins are rooted. Here are the published pieces I was most proud of in 2015:

  • 14 Reasons Women & Children First Rocks (Chicago NewsCastic, February); I got to promote an incredible independent feminist bookstore and work closely with store co-owner and my friend, Sarah Hollenbeck.
  • How I’ve Put Shine Theory Into Practice (HelloGiggles, April); This one landed me an interview spot on WGN Radio in Chicago, and was included in HelloGiggles’ fourth birthday celebration post as a favorite piece.
  • What It’s Like To Be A Hearing Impaired Skater (Little Anecdote, June); I pitched a Portland author I’d never met and asked to write a guest post for her roller derby site. She and I are on a first name basis now and swap interviewing tips. I’m so glad I reached out to her.
  • A History of My Life Through Movies (HelloGiggles, August); This is the HG piece that got me on an editor’s radar, and now I work with her directly for everything I write for the site. She loves bouncing ideas off writers and is quick to respond – always a plus.
  • The Cost of Getting Your Car Booted by the City of Chicago (The Billfold, September); This wasn’t the first piece I did for The Billfold, now one of my most popular clients, but it was a fun piece that got a lot of response.
  • A Season of Housekeeping in Ohio (The Billfold, November); I sent this 2,200+ word essay to Nicole Dieker, my awesome editor at The Billfold, unsure it would be a good fit for the site. She liked it and made it work, and it got kudos from the site’s editor. This essay on loss and friendship is the piece I am most proud of this year.
  • The Cab Driver (Story Club Magazine, November); I wrote this essay in June for a live lit performance in Chicago. One of Essay Fiesta’s co-hosts encouraged me to submit it for publication, and it found a home with Story Club Magazine. Big props to editor Rosamund Lannin for working back and forth with me to get this piece in its best final version.
  • How Gilmore Guys Do Money (The Billfold, December); I pitched this to my editor fully owning up to the fact that I wasn’t sure I could make this interview happen, but that I’d do whatever I could. She took me up on it, and the co-hosts of my favorite podcast agreed to speak with me.

Image of The Billfold piece about the Gilmore Guys podcast.

It was a pretty great year. I can’t wait to see where my work ends up in 2016.

As a reminder: I blog here less and less, but you can still keep up with everything I’m doing and writing by signing up for my email newsletter. It goes out every two weeks, usually on Wednesdays.

2015 New Year’s Resolutions: A Last-Minute Check-In

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(image via)

Last month I took a look at the New Year’s Resolutions I set for myself in January and was pleasantly surprised – I haven’t done too bad this year. Definitely not 14 for 14, but that was a pretty ambitious number to set. Since it’s the first day of the last month of 2015, here’s an update:

  1. Do as many live lit shows as I possibly can this year
    • “As I possibly can” was a nice caveat to throw myself. In 2015, I did three live lit shows, but that’s still more than I did in 2014. Remember when I used to be too scared to get on stage and read my writing? I’ve had a lot of great performers around to encourage me to share my stories, and I’m thankful for them.
  2. Complete intro roller derby class at Derby Lite
    • Check! And then some – I went on to do Level Two at Derby Lite and now I skate with the Wreckers here in Portland. It basically shaped a big part of my life.
  3. Do Feminine Comique training
    • Done! It was a wonderful, terrifying experience, and I met a bunch of bad ass ladies through this February class. A DVD of my final performance exists, but no one has viewed it, including me.
  4. Volunteer marketing services to at least one nonprofit
    1. I came in real close on this one, but in the last month I volunteered some Instagram assistance to my friend Becky’s employer (a synagogue), and I am also reprising my role in volunteering press release writing and marketing services to Slow Roll Chicago for their toy/coat/bike drives.
  5. Bike 500 miles by year’s end
    • Hahahahaha nope
  6. Lose final 9 lbs for a total of 30 since May 2013
    • I haven’t weighed myself once since August, but I feel/look great. If I haven’t lost those nine pounds, they’re not troubling me.
  7. Re-visit ASL skills, even if just via YouTube video practice
    • I re-took a level one class with Christina this spring, since she was interested in learning. I bought a fingerspelling app in October but I need to use it regularly.
  8. Take an intro ukulele or fiddle class at Old Town School of Folk
    • While I technically have 30 days to buy a ukulele, I think this will be a very fun thing to try in 2016 when I’m not on book deadline.
  9. Mull over possible tattoo idea for at least six months
    • Much to my dad’s chagrin, I am 80% sure I’ll be taking the plunge in March, to celebrate my 30th birthday. I’ve had my design idea for a year now, and I still want it.
  10. Have the best Chicago summer ever
  11. Travel to visit Eileen and Margaret in Massachusetts
    • This is HAPPENING! Twice! Both in December! When I made this resolution I had no idea Stef would eventually move to Boston too, giving me additional incentive to go. In a week and a half, I’m flying there for a party at Eileen’s and I’ll be there again for New Year’s Eve with Stef.
  12. Write for DNAinfo, NewsCastic, and other sites as much as I can
    • While I no longer write for either of these local Chicago sites, 2015 turned out to be a huge year for me in terms of freelancing. I’ll be doing a summary/year-in-review on that topic alone in the coming weeks.
  13. Make a plan for better savings
    • Hmm. Well, there’s always 2016.
  14. Ring in 2016 from Portland, OR
    • I did it! I actually moved to Portland. I’ll be physically ringing in 2016 from the east coast, but that sure seems like a technicality.

How’d you fare this year?