Uncategorized

2017 in review

When I looked back through my blog to see if I’d actually set myself goals for the year I could see just how little I’d blogged in 2017. I think it might be the quietest year since I started this, and that makes me feel a little sad. But I think it’s a really good reflection on just how much this year ended up being about keeping things together.

Last year I posted a little about how the preceding years had been a lot about keeping afloat, surviving, getting through and I chose FOCUS as my word for 2017. 

Yeah. Well. I guess I was focused for some of it. If it was a goal to work towards then I’d like to say that over the course of the year I nailed that sucker. I’m coming out of 2017 feeling focused and with big goals for the coming year.

Last year I wrote:

2017 will be a year of words. A year of saying no to the things I don’t really want to do but maybe feel like I should. Of saying YES to my own worlds.

And I can say that I achieved all of these things. Sure, not all at once, but I got there. Despite reflecting on the fact that I’ve had a few hard years, I’m going to say that 2017 has been the worst in a really long time. I’ve had massive patches of depression, the death of my much loved Nana, struggles with health across the family, PTSD flare-ups, massive amounts of stress in the lead up to the convention in June.

And yet, I still got more achieved this year than I have in a long time. 

Once the convention was all done I had a heap of space in my brain for other things and I got really stuck into working on my writing. This year I published four new titles: Serafina’s Flame (which is Burn + the two follow-on novellas in a single title), Beneath Broken Waves, In the Earth’s Embrace, and Of Souldust and Starlight – the final three books in the Kotahi Bay series. This wraps up 2/3 of the series I started back in 2015 and I couldn’t be happier about that. It feels really good to finish some things. Which isn’t to say there will never be another Kotahi Bay book, there might be, just not right now. 

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Did I say no to more things? Yeah, I did. I turned down some work, I let a few clients know that I wasn’t going to be able to edit for them anymore. I didn’t leap at every opportunity so much as suggested in my presence, and I stopped feeling like I had to do things just because it was the nice thing to do. I started using the ‘I’d love to say yes, but I need some time to think about it before I can commit’ line with people. I was more honest about when I just couldn’t, and that felt really good too. To actually just say ‘I really can’t, I’m tapped out’ when that was the truth. I feel like while I still have some work to do in that area, I’ve gotten a lot better at putting my needs near the front of the list, which has gone a long way to helping out my mental health situation.

So, while 2017 was a hard fucking year. It really was – I’ve not been so close to a complete break down in a really long time, I barely held it together at several points, hell, maybe I DID have some small breakdowns – it was also a really successful one. I wrote and published books. I made huge leaps in my author world and implemented some really good strategies for both work and personal life. Boundaries, yo. I think I’m getting some 😉 Self-care? Definitely improving on that front too. 

I’m still mulling on my goal specifics for 2018, so I’ll post about them next week – I feel like it’s going to be a good year though, and can only hope it has a few less big challenges in it.

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life, Uncategorized, writing

Recap and look forward

This has been a Year.

I’ve seen it capitalized all over the place – people from across the world have been having a hard time of it, and it was no different for me. It’s been almost four months since we moved cities, which was a total upheaval but has given me a lot of time to reflect and grow. Growing can be painful, but I really believe it’s worthwhile. And I think in the last few months, in particular, I’ve come a long way.

I was watching a friends video the other day (FB Live, have you tried it? I think if I ever did a live thing my kids would totally video bomb me lol), and she was talking about what her word for the year might be in 2017. It got me reflecting on what my word of the year has been in recent history, and while I haven’t always ‘set’ them purposefully, they have been there.

They go something like this ‘Survival’ or ‘Balance’. ‘Not falling apart’ could probably make it to the list too. Because on reflection, I’ve had a few hard years. In 2014 I finished my studies and published my first book. At that point, I was struggling hard, I just didn’t know it yet. One of the topics of my study ripped me apart and I’d spent months spiraling that, and I determined that in 2015 I would put myself back together again, in some fashion. I decided to give antidepressants a shot, and while they helped somewhat, it was a lot of ups and downs, side effects, and eventually feeling incredibly numb.

I didn’t write a lot of new stuff in 2015, though I published several things that had been waiting. Towards the end of 2015 I was toying with the idea of coming off my meds, and I did that and felt a huge sense of relief. I could actually FEEL again, and that was amazing. I’ve not doubted that decision for a moment since, and despite all the turmoil this year has brought me, I’m feeling better than I have in a long time. I am strong. And I have bad days, but I get through those, much like most people do. Life is full of ups and downs.

2016 was a light year for writing too. Very light. I did a good chunk of editing, worked for others, but always put aside my own work.

Anyway, this is all a roundabout way of saying that my writing has not been a priority for a long time. I’ve been dealing with so many real life issues that there wasn’t room for that creativity and it was much easier to do things for other people. But I’m ready now.

And my word for 2017 is going to be FOCUS. Because it’s time. It’s time I actually gave this a real chance, time I made my writing a priority. Time to stop putting everyone else’s work ahead of my own. This both terrifies and excites me, because if I actually try, then there is always the chance I can fail, and failing sucks. But I’d rather try and know than just keep putting it on the backburner.

2017 will be a year of words. A year of saying no to the things I don’t really want to do but maybe feel like I should. Of saying YES to my own worlds.

What are you saying yes to in 2017?

in the spirit, life, publishing, study, writing, year in review

2014 Round-Up

It’s that time when people start to gather their thoughts on the year that was and plan ahead for what the new one will bring. I love this kind of thing, so I went digging for my goals post from the start of this year to find out what ridiculous and out there plans I made.

I was pleasantly surprised that I’d been kind to myself. That I had been wise enough to know that study alone would be testing me to my limits.

And it did. In just about every way possible. It’s the first year of study that has ever broken me. I cried far more than I have possibly ever, sometimes for days at a time. There were weeks when every conversation brought me to tears. I very nearly quit. I used the university counselling services for the first time ever.

The content of the courses undid me in a number of ways – personally, culturally, mentally, emotionally – and it was an epic struggle to try and put myself back together again let alone complete the courses. Towards the end I was an anxious, paranoid, depressed wreck who wondered if she would ever get to the end. But I did it. I finished. I passed everything and maintained a B average despite my struggles. I’m once again a functioning human being, though there are still journeys to be made in order to finish working through the crap that study brought up for me. It’s probably a case of it just being a part of life now – questioning and growing and changing. Accepting the bits of me that have felt for a long time like they were deal breakers or unacceptable in other ways. All work I’ve been doing to a lesser extent for some years now, but brought into sharp focus for me this year.

But I made it! I met my major goal which was to complete my Post Graduate Diploma in Education (Guidance and Counselling), and I’ll be graduating in May next year 🙂 Fuck yeah! I totally earned the right to celebrate and possibly for the first time (academically) I feel like I EARNED this. I BLED for this qualification. And I am rightfully proud.

Despite not setting myself any firm writing goals, I kicked myself repeatedly about the fact I wasn’t making any progress with it. I did some editing on my own work, but couldn’t seem to summon the creativity required to lay down any new first drafts while doing academic stuff. The two just don’t mix well for me. I accepted this about halfway through the year and cut myself some slack. Instead of worrying about writing I focused on editing and kicked In The Spirit into shape, leading to my next big achievement for 2014.

I published my first book.

It might only be a novella, and it may only be available in digital formats but that doesn’t detract from the fact that I have stepped out into the Indie publishing world, and am taking control of my career.

While I started off the year focused on trying to find a traditional publisher, it didn’t take long for me to change my mind. I’d always intended to self pub something, In The Spirit seemed like the perfect first foray. But the more I read about it, thought about it, talked about it with other authors, the more I realized that right now what I want is control of my work, my career. I don’t want to keep waiting for someone else to say yes to me, I want to say ‘YES’ to myself. I want to be doing, not just waiting on the sidelines. This decision was pivotal in getting any work done at all, because it wasn’t until I firmly decided that I wanted to do it that I was able to get organized – amazing how motivating it is knowing that you’re the only one responsible for your success.

A lot of other things happened in 2014. I edited for a number of other people. Read far more works in progress than published novels. Was infinitely busy with the kids and home schooling. Managed to maintain some semblance of sanity and normalcy despite the massive ruptures study created for me. Despite the fact it was a hard, hard year I can finish it off knowing I achieved what I set out to, and then some. I am still here, still strong, still moving forward, despite everything. I survived.

And you know what? That feels pretty bloody amazing.

life, writing

2013 in review

December is all but over, and as I rush to fit in the last few things I wanted to get done, and start planning ahead for the new year, it’s as good a time as any to stop and reflect on the year that was.

2013 was okay, looking back. It was a really hard year for me in a lot of ways – I admitted I was depressed, had a really hard year of study, struggled a lot with finding balance and worked on continuing to find my feet with home schooling.

There were also some good parts too – I actually got really good grades for those papers, despite not enjoying them at all, I managed to get two short stories published even though that wasn’t on my goal list for the year. I even had my baby teeth necklace make it’s way onto the cover of a book! (Yeah, I think that was my highlight lol). I attended Au Contraire and met a huge number of authors I’d previously only known online, which was amazing and inspiring and wonderful, and even managed a flying day trip to ‘retreat’ with some other writer friends. And on top of all that, I’ve made some super fantastic new writer friends, and strengthened other friendships as well.

Now that I look back on all of that, it’s actually been a kick ass year for being a writer. I owe so much to the wonderful people who are in this with me. You’re not just ‘writer friends’, your friends, and I couldn’t do this without you.

So how did I go on my original goals for 2013? It was going to be a year of ‘finishing”, and looking back, it feels more like they happened last year, but possibly because I got a couple things done really quickly. I read Perdido Street Station before the end of Jan, and finished The Artists Way before February was through. I didn’t manage to get onto Writing the Other though, mostly due to the fact that once study started, there never seemed enough time to really throw myself into the book.

Aside from those, I wanted to finish Sun-Touched and submit it, which I will be doing before the year ends, as well as finish The Way the Sky Curves (previously known as Shell and Bone, which is now the title of book two), and submit that as well. I’m not going to swing that this year, but I’m going to get that done before I launch into my last year of study.

I’m feeling a lot better about the year now 😀 It might have been hard, but there was a lot of awesome in there and I’m going to be heading into 2014 with those in mind. Onwards!