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  • Dylan Roche

Let's Get 2021 Started


Somehow we made it through 2020.

And now that we’re nearly through the first month of January, I’m finally getting my act together to start brainstorming for the year ahead.

Whatever. Time is a social construct, right? There’s no rule I can’t start pursuing goals at the end of January.

In fact, my birthday is in early February (it’s February 2, to be exact), so it actually makes sense for me to observe the years based on years of my life instead of calendar years, right? But I digress.

I don’t think I’m alone among the creative types who found it was really hard to…well, be creative throughout 2020. There was unprecedented stress, lack of stimulation and inspiration, distractions on the news every single day…it was a lot.

But how do we leave that in the past and focus on making 2021 such a great year that it makes up for it?

A lot of this is going to depend on what’s within our personal control.

Last year, I told myself that I wanted to run at least ten marathons in at least five different states. That obviously didn’t happen because marathons were all cancelled. Out of my control.

BUT I did manage to run some really cool virtual challenges, and throughout the month of December, I ran 500 miles to raise money for charity. All of that was within my control.

As far as writing goes, I wasn’t able to do any book signings or in-person author visits, but I still did Q&A sessions with a few classes via Zoom, and I got a lot more active with online writing communities. I guess that’s what adapting to a changing world is all about.

Now that I’m looking ahead to 2021, here’s what I’m hoping for:

  • Complete the three manuscripts I currently have in progress. Those include The Tide and the Stars (YA fantasy), which follows the adventures of two servants who escape from a witch’s farm to seek their fortunes in the great wide world, only to discover they’re at the center of a prophecy concerning the fate of the kingdom; Return to Nalgordia (YA fantasy), which is a sequel to The Purple Bird and follows the adventures of Archit and the Shannassy kids as they go back to the world of Nalgordia to save it from another attack by the evil Mr. Birken; and last but not least, Runner’s Warning (creative nonfiction), which traces my relationship with running and the positive impact it’s had in my life.

  • Be more active in networking with writers. Writing can be a solitary endeavor — it’s hard to get inspiration when you’re constantly working by yourself. You really need the support sometimes. I recently joined the board of the Eastern Shore Writers Association, and I’m excited to announce that I’m now hosting the monthly online fiction writing discussion group Get Lit: Discussions on Creating Compelling Fiction and Literature. If you’re interested in participating, I’d love to have you. I’m also going to start featuring other authors on my blog, so if you’re down to share with readers a little bit about your perspective on the craft, shoot me a message.

  • Keep running. I don’t have anything I’m currently training for except life in general. But once races become a thing again, I want to do my first ultramarathon, my first triathlon, and my first Tough Mudder. Get ready for lots of musings about my training regimen on here in the weeks to come.

  • Blog more. I’ll admit that sometimes I get so wrapped up in my other writing endeavors — whether it’s fiction writing, journalism, copywriting, whatever — that I neglect to take a moment to get some of my own feelings down on paper (or down on Microsoft Word, as the case may be). I know the point of blogging in the modern world is sometimes all about SEO and web traffic, but honestly, I just want to blog for the sake of reflecting on life, for the sake of sharing my adventures with anyone who cares to read about them. I can’t guarantee I’m always going to have a lot of interesting stuff to say as long as this pandemic keeps us all under lockdown, BUT maybe I’ll be able to come up with some good content.

The next adventure on the horizon: the Polar Bear Plunge to benefit Special Olympics Maryland. It’s switching to a virtual event this year, so all participants are supposed to plunge by themselves and submit photos or videos. It’s not quite as exciting as the festival they have every year on the beach of the Chesapeake Bay, but I’ve done the plunge every year for the past five years, and I’m not about to miss out on it this year. I just need to find a way to keep it interesting!

That’s all for now. If you have goals of your own for 2021, I’d love to hear what they are — and don’t forget to keep seeking out ways to have fun even when life is this tumultuous.

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