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  • Writer's pictureElaine Marie Carnegie

"2023-My Writing Year in Review"

Updated: Jan 18

by Mike Turner


Please welcome Mike Turner back to the Writer's Journey Blog this year with his Year in Review!


2023 - My Writing Year in Review

 

Many thanks to Elaine for inviting me back to the Blog with an update on my writer’s journey! I’m a poet/songwriter living on the US Gulf Coast, writing with a purpose: to inspire hope, understanding and community through poetry and song.

 

If you review my earlier guest posts [“It All Started With a Pen Name” (September 27, 2020); “2021 - That Was the Year that Was (January 2, 2022); “Another Year in the Books” (November 20, 2022); and “Journeying to ‘Visions and Memories” (April 16, 2023)], you can read about my “strategic planning” approach to my writing. Let’s take a look at how well (or not!) I accomplished what I set out to in 2023:

 

My goals for 2023 remained unchanged from prior years:

 

I.        Write and produce poems and songs that illuminate common aspects of the human condition

II.     Achieve wide distribution of my work

III.  Grow and support an engaged audience

IV.  Achieve professional/peer recognition as a writer

 

To achieve these goals, first and foremost, I have to write, submit and record. To encourage and track those efforts, I established the following objectives* for the year; in parentheses, I note my year-end performance:

 

A.    Write 25 new songs and poems (Total written: 68)

B.     Record/post one song per month/12 for the year (Total recorded/posted: 7)

C.     Complete one recording/mixing course (None were completed)

D.    Produce/release four songs for radio/streaming play (Total recorded/released: 2)

E.     Obtain two song “cuts” by other artists (Cuts: 1)

F.      Submit two poems per month/24 total for publication (Total submitted: 59)

G.    Identify six new outlets and submit poems/lyrics (Total: Submitted to 19 new outlets, with 18 poems published)

H.    Have 30 poems published (Total published: 53 poems in 19 journals/anthologies)

 

*  These target numbers are admittedly arbitrary - they’re intended to to be aspirational, and to motivate me to consistently move forward in pursuing my high-level goals.

 

As we can see, my results this year were mixed, particularly in songwriting. I didn’t complete any recording/mixing courses (this is the second year I’ve failed to achieve this objective); and I only did a little over half of the recordings/postings of “live” versions of songs I’d planned for my YouTube channel.

 

Yet, I had some real successes this year. I passed a lifetime total of 300 poems published in 68  literary journals and anthologies (including the “Journeys III” anthology), since I started submitting in mid-2019. I was a guest on two poetry podcasts, both well received. One of my poems was nominated for a Pushcart Prize (my first such nomination), a second made a journal’s 2023 “best of” list; and a third, “Sense of Peace,” won the 2023 Roger Williams Peace Prize for Writing, awarded by the Alabama Writers Cooperative (and will be featured in a 2024 AWC anthology). My 2021 book, Visions and Memories, received a stellar review by a poetry blog in India. I did several “live” presentations, readings and performances (something I told myself I wasn’t particularly going to do this year). And several of my original song recordings received radio and streaming play.

 

Two questions continue to task me: are people really reading/listening to my work? And, am I  having the impact I aspire to? The data is anecdotal, but the signs are encouraging.

 

In poetry, I’m fairly well known in various writers’ groups I participate in, and I get likes and comments when I post up links to my published works. Publishers continue to accept and publish my submissions. All this tells me, if indirectly, that my works are being read.

 

The same is true of the songwriting groups I’m in; plus, I can see the raw number of streams/views of my recordings to tell me that people are listening to my music - in fact, this year I passed 41,500 total views of my original songs on my YouTube channel, 8610 this year alone, the highest total of annual views I’ve had since I started the channel in mid-2015. Other writers ask me to collaborate with them - I’ve had two songs post up this year that are collaborations with a fellow poet, adapting his poems to song, accounting for an additional 5400 YouTube views on his YouTube channel.

 

But I still haven’t cracked the code of how to market and promote myself - how to find and nurture an audience for my stuff. I’ll be giving that some thought as I put together my plan for 2024 (I’m writing this just after Christmas 2023).

 

So, what do I have in mind for next year?

 

I’m pretty comfortable with my “big purpose” (writing with impact) and my major goals (writing/recording, building/maintaining an audience, getting peer recognition). I’ll be taking a look at my metrics in terms of the target numbers - those I exceeded, those where I missed the mark - and adjusting where needed.

 

I’ve noticed through the year that I’ve started writing much shorter pieces - haiku and some other short-form poetry, and more than a few inspirational memes. I enjoy this, particularly the memes, and so I’m thinking of doing more of that.

 

One of the big pieces of feedback I received this past year, is that people respond very positively to me reading my poems “live;” and several folks have encouraged me to do more readings. And so I’ve set up a meeting with my local library for January to talk about doing some reading/open mic events - I’d organize, MC and read. I’m also thinking about trying some readings to post to my YouTube channel, and then distributing them to some Facebook groups that accept poetry (this, along with memes, would be a good way to recirculate some of my older, previously-published poems, where copy-/publishing rights have reverted to me).

 

And I’ve also identified a pressing need that’s less about writing, and more about infrastructure: I need to compile, organize and back up my work. I accidentally erased an entire song this year, and spent several days reconstructing it from memory. And I also slipped up and submitted a piece to one publisher, that had already been published somewhere else. While the 2nd publisher graciously let me off the hook, I was mortified. So I’m committed this year to going through all my old files, to back up my work and better organize my records of submissions and publishing.

 

Where does this leave me at the close of 2023? I’m happy with what I achieved, and not overly disappointed (well, a little…) with where I didn’t hit my objectives and targets. I learned, in a long career as a government executive, that plans aren’t ends in themselves, but tools - the real measure of success is what one achieves in following the plan. I attained a lot in the past year, and I think (hope!) I’m achieving my “big purpose.”

 

As this blog’s name reminds us, as writers, we’re on a journey. We might have a map, but it’s also interesting to see where the twists and turns of the road may take us, and the waypoints  - some unexpected - that enrich our experience along the way. I visited a few unexpected places this year, and skipped over some stops I had hoped to make, but on balance am further along than when I started - and I’ve met some great people, built some wonderful relationships, and picked up some new readers/listeners along the way (and become a reader/listener of some fantastic talents as well).

 

Thanks to everyone who’s been with me on the ride so far - folks reading this post, following my poems and songs, collaborating and growing with me along the way.

 

I invite you to come along to see where we go in 2024!

 

Links:

 

X: @SchoonerSkipper

Instagram: @MikeTurnerSongwriter

 

Book: Visions and Memories , available on Amazon at https://a.co/d/hrQnjjA 

 


Bio: Mike Turner is an award-winning songwriter and poet living on the US Gulf Coast. Named Male Gospel Entertainer of the Year (2017) by the North America Country Music Associations International, his original songs have received radio and streaming airplay in the U.S., UK, Ireland, Europe, New Zealand, Australia and on the US Armed Forces Radio Network. A Pushcart Prize nominee, he was awarded the 2023 Roger Williams Peace Award by the Alabama Writers Cooperative for his poem, “Sense of Peace.” Mike has had over 300 poems published in over 65 journals and anthologies, and his original songs are playing on radio and major streaming platforms. His poetry collection, Visions and Memories, is available on Amazon; his debut collection, Visions and Memories, was published by Sweetycat Press in 2021.

When not writing and recording, Mike and his wife Pamela Caudill explore the backwaters and bayous of the Gulf Coast aboard their classic trawler. Mike Turner is a poet and songwriter living on the US Gulf Coast.






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6 Comments


kljesmer79
kljesmer79
Jan 16

Hi Mike! I fell far behind on everything over Christmas so I am just now reading your blog post. What wonderful goals you have set for yourself. I will keep you in my prayers that you reach every single one of them. Your words are touching and enjoyable in so many ways. Keep up the incredible work!

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Jim Bates
Jim Bates
Jan 02

HAPPY NEW YEAR, Mike!! Here's wishing you tons of success in 2024. I hope it's the best year ever for you :)

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markscheel
markscheel
Jan 01

Yes, I agree with Tim--those were lofty goals. And you achieved much. I myself still struggle with finding a way to gain wider exposure of my writing. Here's to an even more successful 2024 for us all.

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Tim Law
Tim Law
Jan 01

Mike they are some lofty goals my friend. I congratulate you on those you did manage to achieve 🥳 Well done on yet another successful year. Those other dreams will happen when the time is right.

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Tim Law
Tim Law
Jan 01
Replying to

Thanks Elaine 🥰🥳 Wishing you and all the readers a very successful 2024 🙏

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