Hello, dear readers, and welcome! I hope you all had a lovely New Year. I am writing this from a few days into the new year, delayed by my recent oral surgery, which put me out for a few days (you may have noticed my absence on Twitter, too), but I love writing this post every year, and so I certainly didn't want to forego or forget it. I hope you enjoy!
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I love the beginning of a new year for many reasons. It's a great time to reflect, to plan, to put life into perspective; I am never bored with the thought of starting something new, especially a new year. It isn't so much "out with the old" as it is "in with the new".
But I am a reflective creature, and so I like to remember what has come before, and what I have overcome, and to see how I can learn from it. Every struggle appears much easier after it is over, but that doesn't mean the memories fade.
As you may know, if you're a frequenter of this blog, 2013 was a very rough year for me...and I can say that, though 2014 was much, much better, it was still rough in different ways. 2014 was certainly a year of change for me, and looking back it almost feels like it was four years combined, instead of one. Needless to say, I'm excited for something new, and to put all that I've learned to good use.
2014 began on a distinct note of change, after I survived (and I write this quite literally) 2013. You may remember last year's new years post, where I talked about my struggle with depression, among other things. I can happily say that I've come very far since then, though there have been several medical issues to deal with this year, too.
At the end of 2013, I had decided to split my work under two names: Alexandra Lanc and Crimson Sterling, one for my YA fiction, and one for my Adult fiction. I like to experiment in this field, and see what works and what doesn't, and this was a new experiment for me. I wanted to see what it would be like to write under a new name, and if it would work in my favor. It turns out that it, in fact, did not, something that surprised me. And so, after a time, I went back to being Alexandra Lanc, sometimes adding the "C.S." between for my adult fiction, the writer of both YA and Adult stories. The transition was difficult both ways, but I think I needed to try it in order to break some of my personal stigma over what I could and could not write.
Around May, I believe, I discovered a "new" form of crowd funding called Patreon, where creators can upload content, and be supported through the "tips" of fans. This was a low point in the year for me, and again, I decided to try something new, and see how it worked. I wrote a post about why I was leaving "traditional" self-publishing, to find my own way of doing things. Instead of offering free ebooks, I offered my books as free-to-read on my website, posting the patron button up, and offering ebook versions of my stories for a normal ebook charge, if the reader wanted a personal copy. I posted the results of this experiment on my blog back in September, but obviously, this format didn't quite work for me, personally, either. Looking back, I can see that this method didn't fit with my slow work schedule, but again, I had to try, and I learned some new things from the experience, as we learn from everything.
But, after two pen names and Patreon (and both of them together) didn't work, I was at a loss as to what to do. I transferred my stories back to their "normal" format of ebooks and paperbacks, and I went through what I suppose could be called a dry spell. This was in October and part of November. Though I did write some great blog posts, I felt lost once more as a writer, something I had been struggling with since mid-2013, or perhaps even earlier. With NaNoWriMo coming up, I was both excited...and then overwhelmed.
I wrote a blog post about my somewhat crazy November, as I do every year, but the long and short of it was: I failed at NaNo last year. And I can say that with pride. I needed to fail in order to set myself back on the track I am now - the track towards myself as a writer, not as everyone wants me to be, not as I have tried to be for so many years. I love NaNo still, and I think it's great for many writers, but last year I think I may have hung up my NaNo towel.
Just past NaNo, I wrote a blog post about jumping into the querying boat, and attempting to break into traditional publishing, what I spent quite a bit of my November and December studying and learning more about, since it had been a few years since I had queried last. This was my first post ever to be posted somewhere else (while not part of a blog tour), and it heralded some discussion. I was excited to be reaching towards this goal, which has never really gone away, though I've enjoyed, and still enjoy self-publishing despite its frustrations. I came full-circle in November and that part of December: back to the beginning, back to my first hopes as a writer. And that was something special, and was, I can now see, another step towards my healing as a writer.
That might sound a bit silly: healing as a writer? But it's true -- I, as a writer, needed healing. As a person I needed healing. I'm still not perfect, I'm still on my way, conquering things, slaying dragons (or something else; I've always liked dragons, after all), but the healing has commenced.
Looking back, I suppose this (past) year has really been in five parts, not four.
The last few weeks of December, I took off from my blog, after releasing a new short story in the Snowflake Triplet (fun fact: I had planned not to release anything in the series until next year, perhaps 2015, but the writing bug bit, and I'm so glad it did). I spent Christmas up north with my family, who I hadn't seen in a while, and relaxed a bit, having some time to just be. And in that vacation I learned something, and the healing continued: everywhere I went, my family members, who can be just as kooky and wonderful as any other family, were very understanding when I explained to them about myself, about what had been going on in my life, what I had been struggling with. I think then is the time I really started to accept myself.
It's a hard thing, to accept one's self, because we all have days where we wish that we weren't -- weren't too tall, or too skinny, or too fat, or didn't have this birth mark, or this defect, or this disability; that we had a different job, that we worked faster, better, smarter, more or less; that we had the ideal marriage, the ideal kids, the ideal life. We are constantly fighting ourselves, are constantly trying to be something else, and though I've preached many a time on being yourself in writing and life, I finally, fully realized -- not just halfway realized, or partially realized -- that I have been trying to fit myself into a box that is not shaped like me, but that is shaped like "supposed to", and that I keep going back to it, both personally and professionally, even when I tell myself that I can't, that I don't want to, that I don't fit, or that I hate it.
2015 is the year to fully lose that box.
I don't know about you, but I'm tired of trying to fit in there -- and I'm tired of going back to that box when things don't work, when I receive opposition, when I feel like I have to. We can never accomplish anything great, or even good, if we try and fit into that box.
I don't know what this year has in store for me, or for my work, but I'm excited. I know what I hope will happen, but I'm taking one day at a time now, while still keeping the future in focus. I want to be myself, outside of the box, with every word that I write.
Here's hoping to a good year. May 2015 be filled with renewal.
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What I need to learn, concerning writing, in 2015...
I have posted this before, but in the first part of her journal from Crosswicks (you can find it here), my ever-teacher, Mrs. L'Engle writes concerning how at a college speaking regarding literature, the speaker broke literature into three categories: majah, minah, and mediocah (I can only guess there was an accent). Mrs. L'Engle writes that when she's thinking properly, she remembers that it doesn't matter which one of these categories her work falls into, because she has to write, no matter what; it's in her being. She then goes on to say:
Majah. Minah. Mediocah: it is not my problem.
Yes. We can only do our best work, be ourselves, and everything else doesn't matter.