Time for the usual introspective blog post over the past year and looking forward to the next one. I never know if these types of entries are interesting to anyone but me but anyway.
The last decade has seen my life change drastically. In 2009, at 21, I had just moved to Scotland from California. I was struggling to make friends and connections and was filing and photocopying for a law firm. I’d just started writing what would become Pantomime. Now I have excellent friends, some still in California, many in the UK, and several scattered around the globe. I’ve sold 8 books (2 of them twice), released 5, and self-pubbed 2 books’ worth of novellas and short stories. I got my masters and started lecturing. This is, of course, the filtered highlights. There were plenty of lowlights in there, too.
2019 was also a year of highs and lows, like most people’s. I mean, the politics and the climate change worries have been . . . *gestures hopelessly.* On the personal front, the last few years have been a bit precarious in terms of the writing career, but 2019 was when I felt I started perhaps getting a handle on things again (for now, at least). 2018 saw me sell Seven Devils, but 2019 was when me and Elizabeth May got our teeth into edits, got our lovely US cover, and started thinking about the sequel. The start of 2019 saw me sell Goldilocks on a proposal, and I wrote the whole thing before it was announced, which was a different experience. I had no idea what to expect with the project, really, but enjoyed the whole process. I know I’m proud of the book, rather amazed at how quickly I wrote the drafts, and enjoyed all the cool stuff about space I got to learn while writing it. I have no idea how it will do when it’s released, and am trying to just let go and not have any expectations.
While doing that, I also continued my romance self-pub experiment in the first half of the year. Which, on the whole, did okay, but I sadly realised that between lecturing, public events, and other writing projects, it’s one too many projects and I’m spread too thin. At present, there isn’t the return to justify investing the time it would need to take off. I’m still very glad I did it–learned a lot, wrote some novellas I’m proud of and others seem to enjoy. It meant I didn’t have quite as big of a gap in publishing new titles. If I ever have another gap in traditional publishing, I’ll probably release a few more.
I had a short story released in the Scotland in Space anthology, and participated and attended seminars relating to the Social Dimension of Outer Space project, which was a wonderful blend of my teacher life and my writer life.
A lot of this year’s change was mental. While I don’t feel like going into the details, I was not in a great place, mentally or physically or financially, at the start of the year. I was very hard on myself. Despite the fact that, objectively, my career looked fine on the outside, I felt like an abject failure. I felt like a fraud who had no business teaching writing and in general was very down on myself for all my perceived flaws. A combination of new projects, the right medication, therapy, and going off hormonal birth control (which for me caused mood issues) helped me come out of the worst of it. I also learned a lot more about myself and my identity. Seeing my friends, who are a beautiful, supportive bunch, helped a lot. On the whole, I’m a pretty chipper and calm person these days, which I never would have expected back in January. I’m still not perfect, but I’m a lot steadier. If you’ve been dragging your feet getting help because things don’t seem ‘that bad’ please do reach out if that’s a possibility for you. I am really glad I got treatment before the wheels fully came off my mental health. Bless the NHS.
On the physical front, getting back into weight lifting, yoga, and running helped me too. It’s something away from the screen. I’ll do classes or buddy PT with friends so it’s a social thing, but I’ll also work out alone while listening to music or audiobooks, which is meditative. I can deadlift most of my body weight now, and can focus more on what my body can do rather than what it looks like (as much–though I am really digging the new muscle definition). I was also diagnosed with a chronic health condition this year that, in my case, seems to be relatively easily managed so far, touch wood. I experimented with fashion and dress more androgynous most of the time, which I enjoy. Overall, I’m a lot more comfortable in my skin. I hope this continues into the new year.
Reading: I read 77 books out of my goal of 75, which I was pleased with. I also read at least 10-15 books’ worth of student work in my day job.
Travel: went to Northumberland, the Isle of Lewis & Skye, France (Paris & Normandy), Ireland for Worldcon, London (twice, for work), Pitlochry, and California for Christmas.
Public events: I did 24, so an average of 2 a month. It’ll be even more next year, most likely, since I’m releasing two books!
So, 2020. Last year, for awhile I did work and social media free Sundays, and basically tried to stay off the internet unless it was watching a film or a show. That was really nice so I’m going to try and bring that back. In general, I’m trying to cut down on social media a little and give myself more uninterrupted space to think deeply and focus on creative projects. Too much noise in my head just fires up the old anxiety.
- Finish Seven Devils edits
- Finish first draft of Seven Devils 2
- Write Another Book TBD, hopefully
- Make progress on Gay Dragon Book
- Handle two launches within 4 months of each other with relative grace
- Apply for PhD (either a traditional one or PhD by publication)
- Do some more research to deepen my knowledge base for the modules I teach. We’re also looking into rejigging the order we deliver things on the Creative Writing MA and might launch a different, concurrent Masters in the next few years and maybe eventually launch a PhD, so lots of exciting stuff on the horizon!
- In general, try to be less stressed. I’m bad for checking my inbox etc on days I am not paid to work, so I need to guard my days off better and also make sure I work as efficiently as possible on the days I do work so it doesn’t bleed over.
- Deadlift my body weight
- Make progress towards a pull up
- Try pole dancing and/or aerial silks again
- Try bouldering/rock climbing?
- Race a 10k?
- Do more art!
- Travel to a new country
- Cook more!
- Read 75 books again
- Journal more
And those are my plans for next year. How about you?