My New Year’s resolution is not to have a New Year’s resolution. My 2017 will be all about flow and finding peace in a physical and mental place where it often feels like there is none.
For me, flow means following my heart and doing what I want, not what anyone else wants. In 2016, I vowed to write a minimum of five hundred words every day of the year because I wanted to publish more books. It was kinda fun for a while until I got to September, ran out of steam, and writing lost its shine. It became a task. Writing shouldn’t be a task. I managed to make good on my goal and knock out 303,512 words in 2016, but they weren’t necessarily good or useful or publishable words. They were often venomous and tear-inducing. Thankfully, I kept the mean and ugly words to myself in my journal, which hogged over 90,000 of the 300k+ total. A little introspection is healthy, but it doesn’t move one’s career forward.
I published three books in 2016. None of them sold well. I lost a lot of money. #MakeArtNotHousePayments is a great mantra to ohm by, and I’m lucky enough to have a wonderful husband who always has my back where finances are concerned. But a business is still a business, and this one has been creeping toward its final resting place six feet under for a couple years now. The shit officially hit the fan in 2016.
As a sufferer of wicked bouts of depression, I came this close to a complete mental breakdown a few weeks ago. In hindsight, I think it was a culmination of many things: total lack of self-confidence, a crippling and very real belief that I hold the title of THE Worst Writer in the World, and seeing everyone else’s publishing victories and feeling like the lonely kid kicking rocks on the playground. The precipitous state of American politics and a haunting, debilitating fear of the future didn’t help matters. It was a perfect shit storm of fuckery.
Going off my crazy pills might not have been the best course of action, but Celexa wasn’t doing me any more favors than donning a beat-up suit of emotional body armor and going it alone would have, so I ditched the bitch. Several times in November and December, I wasn’t sure I’d wake up the next day and would have been perfectly content not to. I’m better now, but I still have a long way to go to regain my lost happiness.
Here’s what I learned from my descent into darkness: I don’t need writing to make me happy. Because it doesn’t make me happy. It makes me cry and rage and hurt. It stabs me with jealousy and self-loathing. It makes me hate myself.
I have a couple more projects in the works with cowriters for 2017, but once those are published, I will probably be out for good. I’m not angry about it. Sad, maybe, but I can’t force people to buy, read, or enjoy my books. The publishing landscape is what it is. Readers want what they want. I can’t bend to the whims of the market any longer. My time as an author has come and gone. Now I must step out of the way and stop blocking traffic for others who are far better at this gig than me.
They say if you love something, set it free.
Goodbye, words. Fly away, little writing bird! Be free!
That actually feels pretty fucking good.
No regrets. No looking back, only looking forward.
For My Year of Peace, I will try to …
- Be a better wife, mother, and friend.
- Wear my glasses more and squint less.
- Beat my treadmill into submission.
- Venture into the world of cooking.
- Invest in better fire insurance.
- Read and review more books.
- Leave my house at least three times a week.
- Protest shit that needs protesting.
- Avoid things that hurt me (social media, I’m looking at you).
- Listen more, talk less, judge less.
- Eat more vegetables.
- Hang more pictures. Hang ALL the pictures.
- Listen to myself. Even when it hurts.
- Sew lots of baby quilts.
- Be kinder to myself.
- Expand my musical horizons (Hey, I started listening to twenty one pilots this year–totally not my usual jam, but I’m kind of in love).
- Write. But only if it makes me happy.
I hope you have a wonderful 2017. I hope the whole world becomes a better place for all of us this year. I hope light outshines darkness.
Happy New Year.