Well, here we are. It’s the first Monday of 2021, and time to get back to work. I hope this post finds you rested up and that you at least had a peaceful holiday season, even if it wasn’t quite what you hoped it would be.
Normally, I would use my first post of a new year to reflect on the previous year, but I think we’re all in agreement that the sooner we move on from 2020, the better. Still, it wasn’t all bad, at least in our little pocket of the rural South, where folks go about their lives and business in a manner that would let you forget there’s a pandemic if you didn’t turn on the TV, look at the internet, or drive to town and try to enter Walmart without a mask. You know it’s not a good year when you measure your success by how much you didn’t lose rather than how much you gained, but while we lost some work, we still had enough coming in to get us by, which is more than a lot of people can say, and while we were heartbroken to lose our beloved Chihuahua, Pete, we didn’t lose any human loved ones, which is also more than too many people can say. We’re among the fortunate, and though the year was hard, it’s important to acknowledge that.
Apart from our dog’s drawn-out illness and passing, and apart from watching the devolution of our society and liberty and battling the cognitive dissonance of witnessing plots of horror movies I grew up watching play out in real life, the most frustrating thing about last year was that not a single one of my professional plans or goals panned out. The year started out great — I had my best ever month in terms of writing and freelancing income in March, right before the lockdowns started to impact the freelancing world, but then it was all downhill from there. I didn’t finish a single big writing project and had to settle for publishing half a novel just so I could say I published something that year. My one comfort is that I’m not alone. You would think that being stuck at home for long periods would be a writer’s dream come true, but a lot of writers complained that they struggled to get anything written last year.
But like I said, it wasn’t all bad. In 2020 I learned a lot, and grew a lot, and I’ll be sharing more about that in coming weeks. For now, I’m entering into 2021 with cautious optimism, at least on the professional front, and I’m doing things a little different this year. After setting big goals last year and overloading myself with projects only to burn out early, this year I’m not making any big plans or setting any big goals, but taking a more measured and streamlined approach. Rather than focusing on completion, I’m focusing on consistency, on getting back into the habit of simply showing up. Rather than saying, “I’m going to finish this book, gosh durnit!” I’m just doing my best to write a little bit on it each day.
One thing I started last year that was going well was that I started streamlining my online presence and workspace, and that’s something I want to continue working on in the new year. I’ve already discontinued posting on Instagram thanks to their new, abhorrent TOS (I’m not rushing to delete my accounts, but taking a wait-and-see approach to see what happens with the antitrust lawsuit and whether Facebook ends up having to sell off Instagram and if that will improve things there) and, other than the occasional automated post and the most basically necessary professional usage, I no longer use Twitter. I’m still dithering about Facebook — I really hate having anything to do with that platform, but it’s too useful to give up entirely. I launched a separate blog for my new clean romance pen name, but then never updated it, so I’m going to merge that here and just have a section on this website for that brand, and I’ll be moving my Broke Author stuff here, too. I think. Maybe. Anyway, I still have my separate mailing lists for each pen name, but I’m thinking about doing one big monthly newsletter to keep all of my subscribers in the loop. I’m still figuring this out, but I think this website is going to get revamped (again) and focus more on me as a professional person with many interests and irons in the fire and less on HERE ARE MY URBAN FANTASY BOOKS PLEASE BUY THEM THANK YOU.
But after spending the last week evaluating what’s been getting in my way, a few things are clear. One is that I need to stay away from places and platforms that suck me into endlessly scrolling and not actually doing things, and also from places and platforms that make me feel like I or my life is not enough (coincidentally, those happen to be the same platforms). I need to cut out the things that aren’t going anywhere or bearing any good fruit. And I need to seriously limit my exposure to the news. Not completely, because I think that would be foolish, but enough that it’s not stealing my peace or keeping me distracted from living my life.
At any rate, with all of that in mind, what I’m really hoping for is to be able to build my own community around this blog and my aforementioned newsletter. To that end, for the rest of this month I’m challenging myself to blog every week day, in order to get back into a consistent blogging habit (I haven’t chosen a word for this year, but if I did, it would probably be “consistency”). Mostly that will be here, but a few of those posts might end up on my pet blog, which is the one thing I’m still going to keep separate.
I’ve got other hopes for this year, and they mostly have to do with things like chickens and gardening and travel and learning useful life skills and surviving the End of Days. I’m sure I’ll talk about some of that in the coming weeks and months, but for now, these are the things I’m working on in the professional arena, in case you were wondering.
How are you approaching this new year? Let’s hear about it in the comments.