I could just as easily call this post, “Welcome To Your Weekly Dose of Cute,” as adorable animal pictures seem to soften the blow of just about anything. Including the stunning, harsh, cold realization that yet another year is coming to a close — and you have no idea where most of it went.
A while back, I announced that I was officially dispatching agents to discover who had stolen approximately 37% of 2018 — because I swear calendar pages never turn that fast by themselves. I’m guessing that those I sent out fell victim to this same curse or villain, as I have yet to hear back from them. Shame.
However, despite losing accumulated days and not being very happy about it, I did accomplish and learn things in 2018.
Important tidbit to remember:
I lost a fair amount of free time to being very unwell, especially in the winter and spring. After suffering with stomach and back pain for most of 2017, I was finally diagnosed with endometriosis, which is a difficult and not-well-understood condition. So I can’t blame my lack of productivity in certain areas on anything other than legit being ill.
The only good thing about getting a diagnosis is that I can at least receive some sort of treatment, although I haven’t yet found a lot that concretely works. Predicting a flare-up is about impossible, so preventing one is a crapshoot, at best. So I can’t beat myself up for having times when I simply did not feel up to doing anything.
Major lesson worth sharing:
Comparing oneself to others, whether it’s in numbers of reviews, sales, publications, blog traffic, or anything else, is a sure, slow descent into madness. There is nothing wrong with the fact I only released one new title this year, or that I hit writer’s block on a couple of my planned WIPs, that I opted out of NaNoWriMo, or that I still cannot figure out how to stop Toby jumping up where he’s not supposed to. None of this means I am not successful or well-liked or appreciated.
Is it tough regardless that I didn’t meet some of my goals for this year? Yeah, it is. But I have also learned I am not the sum of my goals.
Truths I had no idea even existed:
There are little things you can do online to make a bit of desperately needed cash. Such as taking surveys on advertising campaigns. Yup, it sounds hokey, but corporations will pay to hear your opinion. Not much (I gave this a whirl this fall, and in more than 2 months, I made less than $100). But is this a good (non-scam) option to know about when you’re broke? Sure.
There are also organizations that will give artists money to exhibit their work, teach a seminar, or share an artistic discipline with the community. You can enter contests, apply for grants, and sign up as an independent contractor with local non-profits that support the arts. Again, it isn’t guaranteed income, but it is absolutely worth going after.
Knowing when to let go:
One of the most difficult and most vital decisions I made to my author platform and my personal life this year was removing myself as a reviewer from Goodreads. My published titles — and all the reviews readers have kindly written of them — remain on that website, but I am no longer an active participant.
And it has revolutionized how I feel about reading — how quickly I finish new books, whether or not I review them, in fact whether I pick them up at all. Yesterday I checked two books out of the library that I’ve never heard of, that I may or may not return unread, and I don’t even care. The possibility of discovery, of not getting invested in liking a certain title that’s been hyped by social media, is more motivating than the fear of missing out, or even the excitement of stumbling on a new author. The joy of not giving a dang feels invaluable.
It’s about who you’re with:
This year, I was not feeling the gear-up to the holiday season, anyway; then my Thanksgiving got thrown for a massive loop, and the short version is: it was terrible. Now I honestly have no requirements for Christmas, except that somebody remembers to buy Muffin toys (that’s already in the works), and that my family is all together. (And, thank God, that one should be taken care of as well.)
Hold on to the impossible dream:
Not being able to go to Realm Makers this summer was a real downer for me. I so wanted to be there to meet all these lovely people I’m in contact with through the year, whose support and encouragement of me as an author, a blogger, a person have been so constant and precious. But too many things made it not happen. Money, needing childcare, being nervous about flying, not being sure how my health would be in July. And I was sad.
But I should not, ever give up on trying to attend next year. Or the year after, or the year after that. A no once doesn’t automatically translate to a never.
Know your limits and stick to them:
Setting unrealistic goals or even to-do lists don’t really make you feel better about yourself. Having 3 things to check off, and getting 2 checked, is pretty freaking amazing, let me tell you. No matter how much you think you need the status/prestige/money/whatever, before you take on that new project or possibility, take a few serious moments to evaluate your priorities, how they’d be affected, and if the outcome is really what lines up with your long-term plans.
And don’t let someone guilt-trip you into taking on too much. You will be a much more effective — and happy! — parent/employee/friend/family member by refusing to tackle it all.
So, that’s about it for me right now! I’ll be around on social media, but between now and New Year’s, I’m not sure if another formal post shall be forthcoming. My coveted spare time is being divided between family, the holidays, and writing. See you on the dark side of the moon, moths!
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HANUKKAH!