• Mary K Gowdy

I know you've read a million times at this point that 2020 has been hard for everyone. This post is going to reflect that. When I skimmed the post I wrote at the beginning of 2020, I realize that I did not accomplish nearly as much as I had set out to. Big things happened, but there was also a lot of empty space where I didn't write at all. Like many others, my mental health took a hit this year. And I've also done a ton of adulting with graduating college, figuring out my post-grad plans, having them fall through with late notice, moving twice, getting a new job, and dealing with the continual effects of a pandemic. It's definitely taken a toll on my creativity. And I'm coming to terms with that. It's been a hard year. It's okay that I didn't accomplish everything I wanted to.

I used to do new year writing resolutions, but last year, I changed to doing something similar to Brandon Sanderson's State of Sanderson where I review all my writing projects, where I'm at, and where I hope to be with them in the future. I'll continue that theme with some variations this year.

I want to start out with something postive, so here is a quick list of what I accomplished this year!

  1. Graduated College! - so weird to not be in school anymore

  2. Published The One-Sided Coin - if you haven't read it yet, you're missing out ;)

  3. Wrote the first draft of the Labeth Prequel - was supposed to be 20,000 words and ended up being 43,438! There's a lot more story to tell about this character than I had anticipated.

  4. Wrote/Revised 24 poems - not my best year but also not my worst.

  5. Read 24 books [the most I've read in like 3-4 years] - almost made it to 25 but I decided to get some writing done on New Years' Eve rather than read.

  6. Finished between about 2/3rd to 3/4ths of The One and the Other Series Bible

Primary Projects

I finally published The One-Sided Coin this year! It was five years in the making, and it's so weird to be moving on from it. I'm honestly a little lost without it, but I'm excited to work on new things. This year, I wrote the first draft of the prequel to the series and made a more detailed outline for the rest of the books.

In a previous post, I detailed this huge plan I had to finish the series bible and outline TOATO2 before November so I could draft it for NaNoWriMo. That did not happen. The series bible has taken so much longer to write than I could've ever dreamed; I'm not fully finished yet (and it is definitely not my favorite thing to work on).

Creating the series bible is giving me a better appreciation for how much I've created in this series. My friends and family tell me all the time how they don't know how I wrote a book, and I tell them that I don't know how I did it either! It's incredible all the little details I've come up with and am creating for this series.

I mentioned in my 2020 post that I realized while outlining the sequel that there needed to be a prequel novella about the character Labeth. I wrote the first draft for April's Camp NaNoWriMo, during the lockdown. I vlogged the whole Camp NaNo experience so you can watch it here. It gave me something fun to work towards that wasn't my school work, which I greatly needed during that time. I finished the first draft in May, and I've since re-read the manuscript and took notes. I've started revisions, which is by far my favorite part of the writing process! My plan is to finish this round of revisions before drafting the sequel.

The One and the Other Volume 2 (TOATO2)

I've outlined the first couple of episodes and might do the rest here and there as I work on the Labeth prequel. I also want to draft it in a different way than I have for any other novel. In the past, I've had a basic outline, fast drafted, and then revised a lot, but this time, I want to make an extremely detailed outline so I can hopefully work out some of the kinks in the story before I put hands to keyboard. I don't know if this process is going to work for me since I love editing way more than drafting and outlining anyway, but it's worth a shot to see if it allows me to complete a book faster. It's become very apparent to me that the most successful self-published authors publish A LOT, so I need to learn to write books faster.

I really doubled down on this project over the summer and revised some poems and wrote many others. It's hard for me to work on both fiction and poetry for some reason, so I have to block off time for working on a novel and time for working exclusively on poetry. I wanted to have the finished first drafts of every poem by the end of last year, but that didn't happen. Around August, I totally still had that intention, but the end of the year sneaked up on me so when I remembered that I wanted to do this, it was too late. I rearranged the manuscript so the central focus has shifted. I'm brainstorming the new poems I need to fill in the gaps and how I want to end this collection.

I am still considering traditional publishing for this collection, though like I said in the 2020 post, self-publishing isn't out of the question. I want to submit to literary magazines again this year, because lit mag publications could help me attract the attention of publishers later. I didn't have a lot of success when I submitted a few years ago, but my poetry's greatly improved so it's time to try again *fingers crossed*.

Other Projects


This was my NaNo 2018 project. The first draft is written, and the new draft is outlined but I put it on the backburner. I don't think I've touched this project this year :/ nor will I be doing anything with it soon either.

Universe Bible

So this is new. All of my story ideas occur in one universe even though they do occur in different realms of that universe. I have SEVERAL ideas that will come together and connect multiple series. It's pretty daunting, and I need a better plan. I've been going off of vague ideas, but if I want to give this shared universe a good chance, I need to figure things out more (though I don't think I have to figure out everything).

I have a Scrivener file dedicated to the universe bible, and something I've wanted to do for a while is to write down everything I know about every story in one place. I'm updating the map for Azain, the world of The One-Sided Coin and Chervaux, and I intend to do some serious worldbuilding so I have a better idea of how things will come together for the overarching story arc I'm cooking up.

Writing Habits

Since I've graduated college and have started working, I've had more time to focus on my writing (though I haven't always been using that extra time to do so this year). Something I implemented a couple weeks in the fall was trying to work on something writing related 10 hours every week. Not only that, but I would "clock in" and "clock out" by documenting when I started writing and stopped writing. This habit helped immensely. I accomplished so much more in the weeks when I did this than the ones when I didn't. Unfortunately, I didn't keep up the habit, but I want to make this a permanent thing I do this year.

That's a wrap for 2020 and what I aim to do for 2021. I'm praying this year will be better than the last (I know we all are). But if 2020 showed us anything, it's that life is unpredictable. This is my plan but it very well may change. Tune into the 2022 post to find out ;)

Happy New Year!

Mary K Gowdy

#amwriting #writingfantasy #fantasy #newyearsresolutions #2021 #goodbye2020

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Most poets organize their collections by writing a ton of poems and then picking out the ones that share a common theme.

I'm not like other poets (cliché and cringey, I know. I'm just such a special fucking snowflake :P)

But I did the complete opposite of the norm for my first poetry collection, and it's been intereeeesting.

It all started in the Fall of 2017 when I wrote a poem titled "A Question 'Bout the End We'll See". I won't share it here because it's really quite awful and needs to be revised extensively. But that one poem sparked an idea, one that had been brewing since 2015. This collection (going by the amazing, original name of Poetry Book #1) is intimately tied to my personal journey over the last five years though it also touches upon religion, politics, current events, and linguistics (my field of study at college).

I structured the collection a few months later by writing ideas for individual poems on note cards and grouped them together based on shared ideas. I had five segments titled Innocence, Love, Faith, Knowledge, and Language (later changed to Thought). I wrote many poems for it in the summer of 2018, but then got busy with school and writing and publishing The One-Sided Coin. I can be a neglectful mother to my poetry at times.

Since this idea still means so much to me, I've doubled down on it the last couple of months. No matter how desperately I've wanted to work on The One-Sided Coin's sequel, I've promised myself that I can't work on it till I've made significant process on Poetry Book #1. And that's helped SO much. I've written/revised over 15 poems in the last couple of months.

Most importantly, I've restructured the manuscript. The segments might have been beneficial for organizing my thoughts at first but they've become a hindrance because many of the poems don't fit into those five categories.

This collection is partially autobiographical. It spoke of the specific time from fall 2015 to summer 2018, but as more time has passed, I've wanted to include more recent events (and we all know that there's been a lot to talk about). My perspective on many things has changed so the focus of the collection has followed suit.

I've had to restructure the collection. Back to the note cards:

I wrote the title of every poem I had written so far onto its own note card since I don't own a printer that I can use to easily print out the poems themselves. I had the poems opened on my computer so I could look at them if I needed to. There were 48 poems in total.

I did away with the segments completely because that type of structure no longer works for this manuscript. I organized the poems that really spoke of a specific time in my life chronologically and structured the other poems around them based on their thematic connections. That wasn't great, so I reorganized them again. There is still a chronological order but it's not as tight. I threw some poems out and re-included some that I had taken out ages ago. I'm now at 47 poems for the manuscript.

I'm not fully satisfied with this order though it could possibly be because not all the poems have been written yet. There are definitely gaps in the manuscript. I have at least eight new poems I need to write from scratch along with many I need to revise.

Publication Plans?

Some days I want to traditionally publish this manuscript and other days I'm like "Nah, I'll self-publish". Ugh! I'm so conflicted. I don't know what to do!

I stopped submitting to literary magazines a couple of years ago for a variety of reasons: I kept getting rejections, it would take months for them to get back to me, and I wasn't able to share my poems any other way (like on Instagram) because they would be "published" and no literary magazine would want them. But now I'm thinking I should submit again. I'm a better poet, and I have some poems that I believe are publication-worthy quality. Even if I self-publish this collection, it may be beneficial to submit to magazines. Idk. There's so much I don't understand still.

I guess you were wanting concrete information rather than a rant, but that's all I have. If you have advice, please comment down below.

Thank you so much for reading! I'll be back soon with more updates :)

#amwriting #poetry #poetrycollection #revision #publication #litmagazines

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This is year is going to look a lot different.

For the first time since I was three years old, I won't be going to school in the fall. I'm so ecstatic! I want to dedicate a lot more time to my writing now that I don't have to worry about classes, homework, research, clubs, and a job on top of that. It was so much. There was always something on the horizon to be worried about, but now after my workday, I can relax.

My writing process is changing, and I have big plans like working on THREE different projects. I want to accomplish so much more this year than ever before. Bring. It. On.

I work about 25 to 30 hours a week at my new job, which is actually my ideal scenario. With my current living situation, I only need to work 30 hours weekly to support myself financially, and I'm dedicating the 10 other hours in the work week to writing. These 10 hours can be applied to anything related to my writing career including working on my projects, marketing The One-Sided Coin, updating my website, etc..

I have a planner where I write what time I start writing as a way to "clock-in" and I do the same for "clocking-out". It's already helped a lot with focusing. I can't believe how much I can accomplish in 10 hours a week! I wasn't even close to working that amount while in school. If I keep this up, I'll be able to accomplish so much more this year than in previous ones.

I've always been interested in working on several projects at once but have never had the capacity to do so. I feel that this year I just might. I have my poetry collection and both a prequel and a sequel to The One-Sided Coin calling my name.

My goal is to start the first draft of The One and the Other Volume Two for this November's National Novel Writing Month. Though I don't always participate in the way originally intended, I like to use NaNo months to jump start projects like I did with the Labeth prequel back in April. If I want to start writing the second book in The One and the Other series this November, there's quite a few things I need to do before then.

I want to write this sequel differently than The One-Sided Coin. For that book, I outlined some before writing a quick first draft in three months. I planned to completely rewrite that first draft, and I did. I thought that this process would allow me to have a cleaner second draft, but there was still much needed rewriting afterwards. It took me five years to write The One-Sided Coin (granted there were some periods of inactivity), and I want to write this sequel a lot faster. This time around, I'm going to outline extensively before writing. Then, I'll do my version of the zero draft, where for each scene I summarize what is going to happen. That way, I have every single step figured out in the manuscript before I bring it to life.

To start the first daft November 1, I need to:

  1. Finish the Series Bible for The One and the Other

  2. Outline TOATO 2

  3. Zero Draft TOATO 2

That's a lot. It might be too much, but I need to challenge myself more to see what I'm capable of. Now that I have a lot more time on my hands to write, I might be able to do this.

I told myself I wouldn't work on TOATO2 till I made significant process on my first full-length poetry collection. Since the beginning of July, I've written 11 new poems and revised 3 old ones. I would call that some significant process if I may say so myself!

I have one more poem to write before I restructure the collection. The main focus of the collection has shifted, calling for a new structure. I'll make a separate blog post detailing that process soon.

I haven't touched this project since I finished the first draft in May, but I printed out a copy of the manuscript today and it looks so great! After every draft, I print out the manuscript and read through it, marking it up with edits I want to make. Since I'm moving up the timeline for TOATO2, that project will take up more of my focus than this one, but I do hope to finish the read through before Nov 1st.

Whew! I have my work cut out for me for the next couple of months. I know I've said it before but I'll say it again, I'm so excited for this next year! I can't believe I'm starting my first sequel. I've been dreaming about this for years. This is so cool!

Thanks for reading and following along on my journey! We'll keep in touch, and stay safe!

#amwriting #fantasyseries #WIP #theoneandtheother #poetry #theonesidedcoin

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