Writing hits and misses in 2015
2015 is drawing to a close and that means it's time to reflect on the successes and failures. Goals met or not.
I suppose one should start with the positive. If I was critiquing someone else that's what I'd do. (Funny how we much prefer to focus on our own failures and are far kinder to others than ourselves. Or is that just me?)
I set myself the objective of writing #1000wordsaday. In fact I set up a Facebook group to support other writers with the same objective. The Facebook group has been wonderfully supportive of each other and of me. Having to post the date and my goals has helped me focus.
One thousand words a day is 365,000 words in a year. Did I achieve that? Actually I did. I wrote two novellas and five novels this year. I didn't write every day but I had days I wrote more and I had two months where I did 50,000 word challenges so I definitely met my objective.
I guess that's my achievement for the year. And it's not nothing to set a goal like that and meet it so I'm happy about that.
See this pretty series of books above. My goal was to have them all released in 2015 and that certainly didn't happen. In fact Book 4 which I hoped to release in November and then December will be out next week. And books five and six will be released by April. I'm behind for a variety of reasons and that's disappointing but they are all written and that's something.
I wasn't a great blogger this year either, I started well but I definitely lost steam so I hope to get a better schedule set up in 2016 to counter that. (I also didn't do too well with my newsletters but I guess we can discuss that in my 2016 objectives post later this week.)
The landscape definitely shifted out there this year. Some things definitely became harder for indie authors. Finding traction and visibility is definitely harder than it was for a lot of authors and finding the right balance in book promotion is challenging.
It will be interesting to see what 2016 brings for me and the industry as a whole.
Time to remember social media is the ultimate holiday brag letter...
It's December - the month of celebrations and candy canes. The month of Christmas trees, tinsel and tears.
Yeah your read that right - tears. It's the month that people want everything to be perfect and it just plain isn't. Not because it's December but because life just isn't perfect. Not in any month of the year actually but there's something about the holiday season that has us craving perfect.
And doesn't it just look like everyone else is doing it right.? I mean everyone.
Perfect trees, perfect kids, perfect freaking holiday cookies. Their relatives seem to turn up in matching outfits looking calm and full of cheer. Their kids never bitch and moan. Their husband doesn't give them a dust buster (and you know they have a husband...everyone has a husband, kids, a holiday home and matching outfits at Christmas right?).
Oh and then they start reflecting upon the year that was. The raise, the promotion, the climbing of Everest, the losing of the ten kilograms and their new ability to tango.
And so maybe you were already feeling a bit flat - you've lost a loved-one, a job or a dream this year. You have to go to the in-laws and you want to go to your family (sorry even when we love our in-laws this is a BIG bone of contention for many), the Christmas angel you've had since you were ten is missing and your burnt those goddamned Christmas cookies (and I'm not even going to mention the gingerbread house) and then you look around and see everyone else's life and it looks PERFECT.
So I have one thing to tell you.This is a lie.
Remember those bragging Christmas letters you used to get? A perfect family's year condensed into a page? Remember those. Back when I had a small child and had struggled with infertility I advised a friend who was then struggling NOT to read the letters that year. "Don't do it to yourself."
Well social media is the eternal Christmas brag letter and you need to know that. Those perfect Instagram selfies - remember someone worked hard to find one good shot. Those Pinterest handmade gifts - only the well-lit successes make the cut and Facebook, well no one shares a photo of the kid melting down on Christmas morning. No one.
People think social media brings us together, and it does in some ways, but it also tears us apart, inside where they demons live. This is our fault too. When you share a perfect photo of your dog in antlers and you get 59 likes. If you say you're feeling low - no comments, no likes, no one reaches out. We like using social media to create the illusion of connection because mostly we just talk about ourselves - just like in that Christmas letter - but it's only a true connection if you actually reach out to people in a responsive way.
What's the point of this post? Be kind to yourself. Step away from social media and go be social. Phone a friend. Meet someone for coffee or lunch or cocktails, especially if that someone is having a tough time.
And remember - you do not have to read the Christmas letter.
Put one foot in front of the other.
Once upon a time there was a writer who was lucky enough to make some lovely friends. She joined some writing groups and organisations and met lovely writers from around Sydney, across Australia and even around the world.
One day she took a plane to the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in Freemantle. She shared the journey with one of the lovely girls in her writing group. When they went to get dressed for a pirate themed cocktail party that evening, the writer realised she had brought with her two flat black shoes that didn't match; a left shoe from one pair and the right from another. She had a decision to make.
Would she walk with a tilt all weekend or get new shoes.
She really didn't want new shoes but she went to the Freemantle Markets and a nice lady there sold her some super soft ballet flats made from goat leather (Yes goat, sorry vegans). And she walked without a tilt all weekend (at least before the cocktails) and for the next two and a half years every time she wore those shoes she thought of the conference and her writing friends and what joy that brought to her life..
Then on a sunny December morning she headed into the city for her end of year writer's lunch. She realised she had been in this writing group for ten years now and it was with love in a heart and a spring in her step that she slid the shoes on, her writing shoes and headed out.
It was a beautiful lunch with gorgeous friends that turned into cocktails beside sparkling Sydney Harbour.
And then the heavens cracked with lightening and thunder and the last remaining writers ran through a storm to get to the station and our writer and her shoes were soaked. Each shoe contained a small lake at the ball and when she walked she could feel it wash over her toes.
"How delightful!" She said. feeling anything but delighted by this turn of events as they laughed their way to the train.
And when she climbed into the car, where her delightful husband was waiting, she knew for certain her writing shoes would never recover and she sighed. And for a brief moment she was sad.
Then she reminded herself better to have good memories and a story but no shoes, than perfect shoes, no new memories and no story .
So, wow, I just thought - I must do a blog post and honestly I had no idea it had been so long. Short of when I take a vacation this may have been my greatest blogging dry spell since I began.
For those couple of readers who wait with baited breath (What does that even mean - breath that smells like bait - ah no thanks, have a Tic Tac) I apologise.
I guess I got busy doing #NaNoWriMo which I did win/complete and then I just got distracted. Sometimes I feel blindingly efficient and then I look around and I think I'm the least competent human on the planet. I'm sure the truth lies firmly in the middle.
And sometimes life doesn't go to plan - like the computer just ate half this blog post for a start...that really doesn't help.
Anyway, we're all just doing the best we can. So my November release will now come out in December and that bumps everything back a month but at the pace life moves it seems more important to be present for people than meet an arbitrary deadline because you never know.
I've spoken to several people who have lost people they loved this December and I think that gives you perspective - people need out time and our attention while we can give it to them...if a deadline is bumped or a blog post or two skipped....that's probably just fine.