Taking Stock of 2013

champagneAnother round of New Year’s resolutions and goals. This normally includes taking stock of the previous year.

This past year, I had 1 primary goal: Go with the Flow. It was the first year I didn’t have a list of concrete, measurable and trackable goals.

Considering the circumstances, I think I did pretty well. It was a very challenging year (we knew it would be), with good days and bad days. But my personal goal was to go with the flow when the really trying moments came up.

And then a whole bunch of things happened:

*I sold my first novel, after years of rejection and shredded manuscripts.

*I became pregnant, after several years of no success.

*My 5-year-old would finally have a conversation with me about his day.

There were a million other little victories that happened this year too, mostly centered around my son. I learned more about the world of ASD, and met some truly talented and wonderful people. I learned even more about the madness of insurance, claims, appeals, and benefits depts. I learned how hard parents have to fight to get their children the services they really need, not just from insurance companies. From people who are ‘supposed’ to work in the best interests of the child.

More importantly, I learned how strong my son is. How strong my husband is. I already knew he was an incredible man (that’s why I married him!). But I have a much more thorough appreciation for his hard work, dedication and perseverance after going through something like this. Just proves to me more I really did pick the one man who broke the mold.

There’s one very big lesson I learned this year, on top of all the above. I learned how to ask for help. In certain situations, outright demand it and not take ‘no’ for an answer.

This feeds in really well to my writing. I finished another manuscript and am halfway through it’s sequel. I’m able to shrug off rejections easier, and at the same time identify the difference between criticisms that are nuggets of gold, versus lumps of coal.

2013 was a year full of lessons, and some incredibly wonderful surprises! Undoubtedly great successes. I think my plan of non-measurable goals worked out well. Thinking of going the same route for 2014. But I’ll save that for tomorrow.

My grand plans for a farewell to 2013 includes spending a quiet evening with my family, and probably falling asleep before the ball drops (I have a valid excuse: preggo!)

Happy New Year, everyone!new-year-2014

 

2012: Roller Coasters and a Sweet Tooth

2012 was another roller coaster year for us. Great highs, a few tumbles, several rollerviewwhirl spins and whip lashes, and in the end we’re still here (sorry, Mayan apocalyptic enthusiasts). And just like fresh off a roller coaster, I’m breathless, excited, nervous and full of anticipation for another round.

I’m certain next year will bring some struggles for us, and we’re ready for them. But at the same time, I’m grateful for every minute I have.

I learned a lot this past year. About myself, as a mother, a writer, a friend- what I’m made of, things I can take, and areas I’m not as strong as I thought I was. And, incredibly, areas in which I’m stronger than I gave myself credit for. I may kick, scream, cry, beat myself to a pulp, but in uncertain situations in which I have no qualifications or control, by God I can adapt.

I have an amazing family and forgiving friends who put up with me during those moments. Who build me up when I need it and have a drink with me when I celebrate.

I know now is when most people create goals for the next year, and in previous years that’s exactly what I did. But right now I look back on 2012 and shake my head in amazement.

I cry for the losses of loved ones (still), I rejoice in magnanimous moments of others, and I marvel at the capabilities of the human spirit. How resilient my son is and no matter how difficult something is or how sick he feels, he’s still such a happy kid who loves with his whole heart without reservations. And how much better a person I am because of him. Because of my family.

toastSo instead of a toast to 2013 and what is to come, I raise a glass to 2012. You threw a hefty test as us, and we’re still here. I’m still trudging forward with writing, with the plans our family made, and handling the curveballs you whizzed at us. With the sours, there were plenty of sweets. And I have one hell of a sweet tooth.

 

Improving Every Day…

As much as query rejections get me down, my husband reminded me to step back and look at where I started in my writing ‘career’ a few years ago. And honestly- not to jam on my own piano like Sir Elton John or anything- but I’m freakin’ proud of myself.

A few years ago, I had no other friends or connections in the writing industry, my bookshelf was practically empty (except for college textbooks I wanted to hang on to- yeah, I was that sad!), and a half-completed story in an obscure file on my computer that I’d started in my teens.

Now I have 3 ½ completed manuscripts on my computer, a half a dozen short stories, 80 blog posts, a writer’s conference under my belt, three full bookshelves (and several drawers full of books), and a whole group of writer friends who UNDERSTAND ALL OF THIS and WHY IT’S SUCH A BIG DEAL!

But not only that, my writing has grown so much, just in the last 2 years alone. Trust me- any writer who is brave enough to go back and read what they wrote when they first started in this business will tell you how much they cringed. Some may have even crawled under the table afterwards. Or started a bonfire and roasted marshmallows over them.

I know a lot of this improvement is directly related to the awesome partners I have in my critique group. Some of it’s from reading other books (both in and out of the genre I write), but mostly my critique buddies. And I’m not talking about the kind of critique partners who tell me ‘good job. Keep going.’ I mean the ones who are honest. Who push me to do better. Call me out on the crap, the lazy descriptions, the evil adverbs, the passive sentences or the unrealistic characters or scenarios. And what’s more, put up with me.

When I email them chapters to read through, or vent about something, or ask stupid questions (contrary to belief, those exist), they’re still my friends afterwards and will still read my work. Likewise, they’re still my friend when I rip their chapters to shreds (because I’m trying to make their work better, too. I promise- I’m not out to be a witch just for grins.)

Cheers

So I raise my rum-and-coke to you, my friends. Thank you.

I’ll keep improving every day, with every manuscript that’s still stuck in my subconscious, it’ll get easier and easier to swallow rejection until that one moment where I get ‘the call.’

Then my thanks will be more than just a rum-and-coke toast, but an acknowledgements page.

And a signed copy. 🙂