When I was growing up, after all of the Christmas chaos had subsided, my mom would get out one last stocking. Filled with folded papers, this stocking contained our New Year’s resolutions from the prior year. After we’d opened and read our goals from the year before, we’d write down goals from the year to come. I never took this activity very seriously and pretty much wrote the same thing every year. Even now, I’ve never been much for resolutions. Sometimes I think we get so tied up in setting and achieving goals-satisfied when we reach them and disappointed when we don’t-that we forget to appreciate what we’ve learned along the way. And that’s what I try to focus on as I embark on each new year.
There are many areas I can evaluate, but the big three are: family, work, and writing. For purposes of this post, I’ll focus on writing. This time last year, I was a third of the way into a WIP I started on a whim. In May of 2009, I finished my MBA and suddenly, I had a ton of free time. I didn’t know what to do with myself. One day I thought, I like writing; I should write a book. So I started. I didn’t have much focus or planning to begin with, and three chapters in, I set it aside. Life got busier. Crazy. Chaotic. Long story short, our house was hit by a tornado and I went back to work full-time two days later (while still juggling clients on the side, family responsibilities, and rebuilding our house). One day, in late fall of 2012, I was kind of at a breaking point. Exhausted. Miserable. That’s when I had another though, Finish your book.
With only the end-goal in sight, I plunged myself into writing. When I wasn’t in front of my computer, I was brainstorming, writing notes, sending myself emails…and ideas just kept coming. It was like a dam broke inside of me. All of the ideas, people, conversations that had been cooped up and shoved into the back of my head were pouring out, into my story. I can’t tell you what a relief it was, how happy I felt to be writing. I finished my MS in 3 months.
I had just finished a book and had no idea what to do with it. I had absolutely ZERO knowledge of the publishing industry. Maybe I needed an agent. Or a publisher. Yea, a publisher sounded good. But isn’t self-publishing all the rage? I had never been on Twitter. Never even heard of a query letter.
For the rest of the year, I immersed myself in everything that had anything to do with writing and the publishing industry. I attended webinars, queried (though looking back my MS was not ready initially), entered every contest that popped up, found CPs and beta readers, I EVEN JOINED THE TWITTER.
I’ve had ups and downs, much like every writer or author experiences in this crazy, wonderful journey. Our collective motto should be “You win some, you lose some.” It’s that what life is all about? Isn’t that what subjectivity is all about? It’s great to win, but isn’t it the losing that pushes us to try harder? To be better? At least for me it does. I’ve pushed myself to try new writing exercises, blogging and short stories for example. Each effort only adds to our skill base, expands on what we think we can do.
I know SO MUCH MORE about writing and what it takes to be an author than I did just one year ago. My manuscript is leagues better than it was, thanks to countless critiques and support from AMAZING writer buddies (you know who you are). And while I’m not an industry expert by any means, my hope, my resolution, is to pass on what I’ve learned to help others along in their writerly journey. And THAT is full of win.