• Mary K Gowdy

2021 feels like a fever dream to me. I can't believe that any what occurred in my life happened or that the year is over. Somehow, 2020 feels more real than 2021, and 2021 might have been a harder year for me personally. My mental health suffered greatly this year, and it affected my writing in a big way. This was a much less productive year than I had wanted it to be. It's frustrating when there's so many projects I want to write and I feel like I'm failing when I don't follow through with my goals. But I was just too tired and unmotivated to write.

Here's an overview of my year:

  • In January, I got stuck in this one scene in the Labeth Prequel--a poem to be exact that I could not figure out for the life of me.

  • Then in February was the snow storm, and I live in Texas so I had on-and-off power for several days straight--not good for writing.

  • I wrote and revised some poems in the spring, but in the summer, I got on anxiety medication. For several months, it messed with my sleep and energy levels. I slept the majority of the summer away.

  • September was a great month for writing! I revised so many poems, sometimes 4 in one day. And I finally finished the poem I had been stuck on from the Labeth Prequel in January and then proceeded to finish Chapters 2-5 by the end of the year.

  • On November 18th, I started the first draft of The One and the Other Volume Two, something I've been dreaming about for years.

  • There were some other mental health stuff that happened later in the year but I would rather not go into it.

Though my writing productivity improved in the later half of the year, 2021 was hard to the very end. And I do feel that even though things improved, I didn't utilize my time as best as I could have and that I could've done more. I envy the consistency I had back in college. But I write all of this to remind myself of what a hard year it was and that I gave what I could considering the circumstances. I'm torn between wanting to rise to my full potential and being compassionate and understanding towards myself. I low-key hate these posts because it reminds me of all of the things I had wanted to accomplish in the previous year but didn't. But I push myself to write these because I want a record for myself and I'm trying to be more honest with others about how I am doing. And this is (some of) what happened.

There were good things that happened this year:

  • I went on a road trip to Big Bend, Carlsbad, ABQ, and Santa Fe - it was my first time traveling that far west, and I loved it! I had been wanting to go on a trip like that for so long.

  • Got my first tattoo - another goal I had been waiting for years for the right moment to do it. The words are Proverbs 23:18 - "Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off."

  • Volunteered to help in ESL classes for refugees - helping refugees is a cause I have carried about for several years now. Post-graduation, I was going to go on a mission to help those crossing the border but that didn't happen because of covid. While the news was disappointing, it was nice to be able to stay where I am, and it's been so great to find ways I can help refugees in my hometown.

  • Got my first full-time job - and it's working with refugees!

  • Lastly but definitely not least - I had poems published by TWO different literary magazines. Not only ONE, but TWO.

(my reaction when the first poem was published)

"10,000 Hours" was published by the Bridge: Bluffton Literary Journal, and "In Her Hand" was published by Sheila-Na-Gig. Both are online literary magazines so you can read them at the links.

Now, onto talking about the major projects:

In my previous end/beginning--whatever you want to call it--year post, this project was called Poetry Collection or Poetry Book #1, but it FINALLY has a name! Coming up with the title was a huge win this year because if you had asked me in 2020 what I was going to name this manuscript, I would've told you that I had no idea and what titles I had tried to come up with weren't very good. But I love this title so much! When it came to me, I immediately knew it was the one--no need to brainstorm for others.

There are nine poems that need to be revised along with some minor edits in other poems, but then it'll be done. I've talked before about submitting this collection to traditional publishers and using self-publishing as a fall-back. I'm not so sure about that plan anymore. I'm at a crossroads, and I'm trying to figure out the best option. I'll update you once I've decided.

This project definitely suffered from my mental health struggles this year considering I didn't touch it for six months. While writing The One-Sided Coin, there was a long gap due to mental health struggles as well. I had hoped to write this book a lot faster, but I'm really proud of how this book is coming out. There's definitely an improvement between the Labeth Prequel and The One-Sided Coin.

Current Status: over halfway through with draft 2 ("the rewrite draft"). I just got over the hump of the midpoint and am heading towards the end.

Volume Two Draft One is underway! The first chapter and a half have been written, and I am loving every second of it! It has flowed so well so far. Fingers crossed that it continues that way.

I had wanted to create a detailed outline before drafting this time unlike in the past where I've only had a bare bones outline and started writing. I did this new process for the first three episodes before getting stuck on episode 4. After a couple months had passed where I didn't get anywhere, I decided to just start writing it. Recently though, I figured out the plot of Episode 4 and am in the midst of outlining it in its entirety. I had given up on experimenting with this new writing process, but this recent victory has made me think that perhaps I can do it. I am really happy with how the first couple of scenes are coming out so maybe I'm on to something.

Until I finish the second draft of the Labeth Prequel, this is my side project. I only intend to work on this when I'm too tired to edit my other projects but I still want to get some writing done. This will be a new writing experiment as well and I'm interested in seeing how it plays out.

Other Projects

Chervaux (NaNoWriMo 2018 Project)

Still no major updates though some songs have recently given me new ideas for one of the character's arcs. The songs are "Oh Lord" and "The In-Between" by In This Moment. Go check them out!

It's 2022?

I keep wanting to write 2021 on everything. My mind thinks that the year now turned 2021 because it doesn't truly feel like the year happened or that it could be over already.

It's good to have a new job, and there's some other exciting things coming up in my personal life this year. I'm also nearing the completion of two major projects: Where Have We Come From, Where Are We Going? and the Labeth Prequel. I would love to publish one of them (maybe both) this year. Do I worry that life will get in the way like it did in 2021? Yes. I just got to keep doing what I love which is to write. And try to find the balance to strive and rest amidst the struggle.

Till my next post, ✌️

Thanks for reading.

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  • Mary K Gowdy

For several years, I've been writing my first full-length poetry collection that I've just referred to as Poetry Book #1, or PB1. It's gone through several re-structurings and revisions which you can read about here, but it's coming together. I can see the light!

And, I Finally. Have. A. Title.

You don't understand how much I've worried about not being able to come up with a good title for this collection. How does one sum up the thought-dump that is a poetry collection in a way that not only entices the reader to pick it up but sets up the right expectations for what type of book this will be? Y'know, that's not intimidating at all.

But this title just came to me. On a silver platter while I was at work. I expected to come up with several possible titles, but after creating this one, I knew that it was the one. It so perfectly encapsulates the theme and feel I want the collection to have. I can't imagine it going by any other title [unless of course a publisher picks it up and wants it to be change--then I'll have to rethink everything].

Here it is:

[Not the cover]

A theme that naturally rose from the collection is that of the unstoppable movement of time. The collection is somewhat of an autobiography, detailing an important period of my life as I had to leave my sheltered innocence to become a mature adult aware of various injustices of our society. The collection deals with America's past while also looking towards the future with the question of after these years of political and social turmoil, where are we headed?

The plan is to finish it by the end of this year so I can submit it to traditional publishers starting 2022. If none of them choose to pick it up, I'll be self-publishing next fall/winter.

Can't wait till then? No worries! One of the poems was published in the Fall 2021 edition of the Bridge: Bluffton Literary Journal. It's titled "10,000 Hours" and you can read it here. I'm so honored that the staff of the Bridge published my poem, and I am so excited that I get to share it with you all.

That's all the news for now!

Thanks for reading,

Mary K Gowdy

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  • 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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