Ahh November. Whether you’re doing NaNoWriMo, thinking about the holidays, or just kicking back and enjoying the last days of fall, it’s a time when many people, myself included, start to take stock of their year and take a look at what’s to come.
This year could have been a lot worse to me. I feel very blessed not to have lost too much income, to have had the time and the flexibility to prepare and protect my household during the pandemic, and to have had the opportunity to learn and improve myself even with the restrictions in place.
Still, like everyone, there are some things that I am grieving. Anyone who knows me personally will know that I am a planner, and I had earmarked 2020 as a watershed year of personal growth. I really wish I could talk more about the details of what I wanted to do, and there will be a day in the future when I can, but unfortunately that day has not come yet. Suffice it to say that due to the changes brought on by the pandemic, a large portion of my plans were ruined and although I still gave it my best effort, the circumstances were far beyond my control.
The state of things this year also affected my goals for social media engagement. I have run into a lot of toxicity when sharing and socializing on the internet in the past, and I am not one of those people that reacts well to being shouted down or being the subject of a pile-on. As such, one of my major challenges as an author has been moving past my aversion to making statements online and my fear of causing a stir.
Needless to say, the climate on social media since about mid-year has not been conducive to mending my relationship with social media. I do want to specify that it’s not about my personal politics– it’s just that this kind of discourse, where I am terrified all the time if someone is going to take issue with something I said that was previously considered perfectly harmless and no one gave me the memo, the kind of discourse where if I cross that invisible line the only option for me is to abjectly apologize in public and discussion is not encouraged, is bad for my personal mental health. It also didn’t help that early on in the year I had a few folks who were determined to be negative on anything I posted simply because they were having a bad day.
Nobody needs to jump in the comments telling me I need to have a thicker skin– believe me, I know. It’s an ongoing process and something I am actively working on. But regardless of who I may grow to be in the future, I am who I am right now, and the climate on social media this year was probably the biggest challenge that could have arisen to my goal of being more active online. Although I didn’t totally flub it (I did manage to pop on to promote events I was doing and places I was going to be published) I do feel that I fell short of my overall goal and was unable to push through, and I take full accountability for that. I am only just now starting to pick up the pieces and re-commit to my original posting goals. I hope all of you out there reading this will wish me well, because as this year has shown, it takes a lot of concerted effort to form a new habit.
My writing life also went on a large detour this year from what I had originally envisioned. I had hoped to produce three manuscripts, and so far I have one. I feel like 1.5 manuscripts and some shorts are about where I will be by the year’s end. This one I am not feeling particularly bad about because unlike the social media posting goal, which didn’t happen because I froze, my smaller writing productivity was a conscious choice. I just wasn’t ready to give up my larger goals for this year, and in order for my big-picture hopes to even be a possibility due to the pandemic, I had to make some tough choices about where to spend my time. My efforts did not ultimately lead to the results I was hoping for, but taking my best shot was still worth it and has led to some fruitful personal growth.
So what am I doing? What is actually going on in my life, you ask? Well, a lot of stuff.
I have finished a couple of personal growth projects recently, and I’m now planning a few shorts. This is fun for me because I’m not a terribly prolific short story writer (although I’ve had good luck with placing the ones I’ve written) and it is nice to play with a format I don’t do as often, and to have some new ideas. One story is a fantasy which is primarily about knitting, and the other is a super freaky horror piece called The Night People which has been turning over in my brain for quite a while now and is materializing into a possible novella.
It also occurs to me that if I want to raise my productivity with shorts, I should consider story prompts, because I am discovering that they really work for me. It’s the same with anthology invitations, (wink wink to any editors in the crowd) as I love to write stories to order. I want to explore this new direction and see where it goes.
I’ve also got some interesting novel work coming up in the near future. Undead Princess WIP is verrrrry slooowly clearing the beta readers and I am cautiously optimistic that it will only need a few minor tweaks and copy/stylistic editing and then will be ready to go. The initial feedback that I am getting is very promising, and I am pleased. I’m also still holding out hope that I can get to roughly the 50% mark with Singing Bones #3 by the New Year, which isn’t too far behind at all, as far as I’m concerned.
So, in conclusion, I think that this year has still been a moderate success for me despite everything going on in the world. I know you either love him or hate him, but I am a big fan of Dr. Phil, and his measurement for yearly goals is something along the lines of: has your life changed for the better this year in a significant way? Even though some of my most cherished goals took a big hit and I didn’t have the big, bold, self-help success story kind of year that I wanted to have, I would say that yes, I have changed things for the better and I am as ‘on the right track’ as I can possibly be right now.
And there’s still more year to go! Stay tuned for more announcements on appearances late in the year, because I do still have at least one more in the works.