And just like that, it’s Christmas season again.
Thanksgiving week is kind of a blur. Our two middle kids came for the long weekend, and I cooked all the standard Thanksgiving fare. We didn’t do much, but I certainly enjoyed having three of four around for a few days. I hope you all enjoyed time with family and friends as well before we enter the frantic shopping, partying, gathering, giving season.
As this year winds down and 2023 approaches, I’m trying to think through plans and priorities for the coming year. I mentioned this briefly a couple of weeks ago, but now I’m starting to get a little more focused. I thought I’d share where I am with some of this at the moment and maybe give y’all a couple of things to look forward to (I hope).
Revisiting the Habits
I have written several times about habits (if you want a refresher, go here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). Suffice to say that my habits have suffered quite a bit in 2021 and 2022. I think some of the diet and exercise habits started to suffer in 2020, but I did keep up with most of them pretty well until we started our moving process. With road trips, packing, unpacking, and all the rest, a lot of things fell by the wayside in 2021, and then it was tough to get back on track in 2022.
So priority #1 in 2023 is me–resetting myself and getting back to where I was in the before times (BC–Before COVID). I’m starting now so that it’s not just another New Year’s Resolution, even though Christmas is coming. I need to do what I can to get my brain and body back to where I used to be.
It’s not just diet and exercise that I’m focusing on–it’s all of my self-care habits. I’ve let my reading and knitting habits slide. I’ve mostly kept up with reading my Bible daily, but prayer has been hit or miss. And I would be embarrassed to admit how bad I’ve been at keeping up with basic preventive health care since the pandemic began–as in, aside from going to the dentist, I basically haven’t seen a doctor at all since… I don’t even know.
I intend to prioritize my wellness in 2023–physical, spiritual, mental, intellectual, and emotional. And that starts with resetting the habits.
Resetting and restarting habits is one thing; that’s all designed to get me back to baseline.
The real challenge is to actually grow. There is some growth in just getting back to a baseline, but I think I’m at a place where I need to start pushing myself a little bit. I usually end up getting to a baseline and then have no where to go, and then I get bored, and then I slack off and fall back into bad habits.
So… to try to keep myself engaged and progressing in multiple areas of my life, I’m making a list of hard things I want to do next year, inspired, in part, by Katie Zornes on Instagram. Hearing some of her hard things has given me a lot of food for thought. Some things I’ve struggled with are just a result of my own sheer stubbornness, poor time management, or bad choices. But others…
There’s actually more going on under the surface.
For instance… Why have I not made healthcare appointments? Because I am struggling with trusting anyone in the healthcare establishment right now. I have trust issues anyway, and after the past nearly three years, well… I will just leave it at that.
Why have I not put family photos in frames and hung them on the wall upstairs–the wall I’ve dedicated to that very purpose? Because doing that will force me to face a lot of parenting demons, and that shit is hard.
Why have I not driven my husband’s new pickup, reached out to connect with new people in this community, or pushed myself to learn to eat with chopsticks? Straight up fear–fear of a really big vehicle, fear of making an ass of myself, and fear of embarrassment.
Those things are tough. They may seem a little silly or small, but for whatever reason, they are huge roadblocks in my psyche–some even bigger than publishing a new piece of fiction.
So, I intend to be more adventurous next year. I have a list of things I want to learn to do, fears I want to conquer, projects and tasks I’ve been putting off, and stretch assignments designed to jog me out of my ruts and push me a little. The adventures may be small, but they’re still adventures.
Which brings me to the writing… Or rather, more broadly speaking, the business.
My older daughter had a good insight recently. We were chatting about my business and goals and such when she was here one weekend, and she said she thinks I’m a better person when I’m pursuing both fiction and commercial writing. She said I seem to need both–I need the creative outlet of fiction, but I also need the business side of things so that I don’t go down the rabbit hole too much. I think she’s absolutely right.
For years, I’ve thought that what I really wanted was to write fiction full-time–to spend all of my work hours creating new stories and then living off the royalties.
But the older I get and the more I realize how much responsibility I have for the whole publish/promote lifecycle, the more I think that I should not rely on selling enough fiction to make a real income.
So… given that realization and my daughter’s observation, I’m going into 2023 thinking about more of a 75/25 split in my work time–75% commercial/marketing writing and 25% fiction writing.
What does that mean for fiction projects?
Well… I intend to devote a certain amount of time every work day to fiction. I don’t know how much time that will be yet, and obviously I may not manage it every day, but I am trying to focus on the inputs this year. If I show up and put in the time, something productive will come from it.
As for the order of projects… First, I intend to finish the second Ian Mac Roy story. It’s been “almost drafted” since about July. I just need to finish a few more chapters, edit, and get it published. I am aiming, loosely, for an early spring release.
Second, I want to write the third Ian Mac Roy novella. I have the idea, basically. I just need to devote the time.
Third, I will get back to Soultainted. The draft is there. It needs a lot of rewriting and editing. I may go back and forth between the third Ian novella and this novel, but it probably won’t be too long before book four of The Taurin Chronicles is my primary focus again. I would love to finish a version I can send to beta readers by the end of 2023, but we’ll see how it goes.
One thing I learned about fiction this year is that I cannot push it too hard. I think this is part of what my daughter observed. When I’m pushing the promotion and publishing process too hard, I get overwhelmed and frustrated, and I’m not good for anyone at that point.
So I’m not going to do all the things that I am “supposed” to do. I’m just going to write, publish, share some blog posts and memes, and see what happens.
Because honestly, if it’s not enjoyable for me, what is even the point?
Launch Day Footnotes
Just a very brief footnote about last week’s launch of Unquickened… If you ordered signed print copies from my website, those are still in progress with the Amazon minions. As soon as I get those, I’ll sign them and ship them right out. I just received the second edition print copies of Ravenmarked and Bloodbonded, too, so if you ordered those signed copies, I’ll be shipping them soon!
And finally, let me just express one more time my deepest appreciation to all of my threes of fans who trust me enough to keep reading my work. I am so grateful to all of you who have stuck by me through thick and thin! Thank you for your book orders, and I hope that the book lives up to your expectations.
As we head into this final 1/12th of 2022, here’s to all of us for making it this far… Onward and upward!