I love the start of a new year. It feels like a mental re-start, the shedding of old baggage, the beginning of something new and possibly better. You never know what it might bring: new opportunities, new hopes, the fulfilment of secret dreams and wishes, personal growth.
But first, mostly for my benefit, a reflection on the lessons of the past year.
In 2013, after almost 30 years, I quit dancing. I started feeling resentful that dance classes were demanding the little time and energy I had left after work. I either had to commit to dancing and throw all my passion into it, or commit to my writing. I chose writing and I know I made the right choice. Unfortunately this threw my fitness levels in the toilet, and I need to fix that in 2014.
I also decided to focus on writing novels rather than short stories. I only rewrote one short, wrote one new one, in 2013. Maybe someday I’ll enjoy writing short stories, but the long form is really what I enjoy. This decision was another relief. I realized I was writing short stories, because I felt I had to, rather than because I enjoyed them.
And I wrote the most awful YA novel in the world. Well, perhaps not the most awful, but it sure isn’t anywhere near good. I think it’s in the running for the most competent but boring YA novel ever. It might be salvageable, but its in the trunk for now. I found that the age of the characters was a challenge, and it was difficult for me to get into teen motivations (maybe I did too good a job of trying to forget that phase of my life). I’m glad I tried it out though. You never know unless you try, and hey! That’s the third novel I’ve finished. The real positive is that I’m fairly confident I can continue to write and finish novel length stories.
I also went from panster (first novel) to scene by scene plotter (second novel) to a hybrid approach this time. I wrote down the key scenes ahead of time, and plotted the missing parts as the book progressed. This felt more comfortable than my other attempts. In the end – I really believe that whatever way you need to get to done, is the right way. Who knows, the next novel may demand a different approach.
The dayjob continued to be extra busy in 2013 and life was more stressful than I predicted. I had to be more careful at balancing work, home life, and writing. I think I did a better job of it in 2013 than 2012, but that meant a few months where writing was impossible. My dayjob is writing, so there were nights when I just had to stop looking at words. I’m ashamed to admit I watched more TV this year than I have before, and read less fiction than usual.
I also decided to take weekends off from writing and it did a lot to ease the burnout. Counter-intuitively, having some free time made the time I did use to write more productive. I also had more energy for it.
If anything, 2013 could be the year of non-fiction for me. I spent the fall reading and researching for the novel I will start editing… um… now. I’m restless and ready to get back to the writing process again.
So there’s 2013 tied up with string. All the loose ends cut off and the package filed away. It’s on to 2014!
Happy new year :)
How was your 2013?