Back in the day, I used to write out “Year in Review” blog posts every New Year’s Eve to document everything I’d accomplished that year. It wasn’t to brag, but rather to show myself I hadn’t wasted a year’s worth of time. I stopped doing it a while back, because I started using book releases as benchmarks of accomplishment. A full novel publication a year (plus the occasional novella) was a good year.
Sadly, it turns out there is a massive flaw with the book release benchmark approach: it ends up devaluing literally everything else I do throughout the year that isn’t a book release.
This year was particularly tough for me, and unfortunately I didn’t even finish that full-length novel, much less publish it. I know I haven’t been twiddling my thumbs all year long, but I still feel like I haven’t accomplished anything, or at least not as much as I should have, and it’s a crappy feeling to have. So I think it’s time to revive my annual blog tradition to keep myself accountable and knock it off with this self-pity bullshit.
This is very much a personal post, and its only purpose is to close out 2018 on a good note, despite all its problems.
1. Completed the switch from CreateSpace to IngramSpark
Between November 2017 and February 2018, I recovered, reformatted, and republished 8 active titles–no easy feat, considering I did this all on my own, while learning InDesign for the first time. Speaking of which…
2. Learned to use InDesign
At least in the limited capacity I need to work on my books and book-related things. I think I did pretty freaking well, considering the steep learning curve of Adobe products.
3. Recovered and published print versions of 3 Rebel Court novellas–twice
The first time was a half-dare, half-whim, just to see if euphemisms and humor translate to good covers. Turns out, they don’t. The hilarity of having tattooed mushrooms on covers got lost in translation, so I was forced to admit defeat on that front and redo the covers in a more traditional manner. Live and learn, I suppose. It was fun while it lasted…
4. Published a Rebel Court novella
By my old standards, this would have been my only “accomplishment” this year, and it would have looked like a pretty weak one, seeing as it’s not even a full-length novel. But that would be a disservice to a great story that absolutely deserves all the spotlights. The Rebels keep getting better and more intriguing with each new installment, and Sweetest Kiss is right up there with all the greats. In my humble opinion. 😉
5. Wrote 3 short horror stories
Adding to the growing list of Monsters in my collection, I wrote 3 short stories that got published on my blog. One day, that collection will be a real publication of its own. 🙂
6. Got The Royal Wizard produced into an audiobook
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Yes, this is partly taking credit for someone else’s work, but it was still two dozen hours of proofing on my part, so I am counting it. And, given that I’d been wanting to do this for so long, it’s totally an accomplishment.
7. Wrote 16 industry blog posts
My hope when I started ask.aliannedonnelly.com was to post at least once every month. I almost managed it, too. Only missed 2 months in 2018, but made up for it in the end.
8. Created a graphic promo booklet
This was more to showcase my graphic design skills than anything else, but it came out so beautiful, I can also use it as a promotional showpiece/catalog for my books.
9. Created a video for Facebook page
If you have the tools, why not use them? I now have a video as a cover on my Facebook page that makes it more dynamic. One more feather in my cap.
10. Cleaned out my email inboxes
Three of them, thank you very much. Got the email count down from over 1,000 to under 200 each. And if I didn’t still need those other emails, they’d be gone too.
11. Made a gemstone wire tree
Yep, totally made that. And got it beautifully right on the second try, too. Copper- and gold-colored wire, malachite and glass beads and a little lantern, because why not? It now hangs next to my computer desk and repels bad juju and such.
12. Recovered a whole bunch of past writing projects
Which I thought had been lost to time and space. But lo, I have discovered them anew, and thus reestablished my long history of a wordsmith love affair. Many of them are even salvageable. 🙂 Sort of…
13. Created a whole lot of covers and graphics
Not all of them got used, but they are useful, and helped me continue honing my skills. I now have covers for a number of projects I will definitely get to at some point in the future. At present, they provide an outlet for creative expression when I can’t make my brain focus on writing.
14. Read some great books
The sad part about this one is that I have to list it as an accomplishment. I’ve had so little time/energy to read this year, it’s a wonder I managed to read as many books as I did. Among them: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Keeper of the Bees by Meg Kassel, and Hot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston.
15. Survived an awful lot of socializing
Seriously, it’s ungodly how much socializing I was forced to endure. But I did it, and I survived. Did I enjoy it? No. Did it make me a better socializer? Also no. But I didn’t cut and run early (except that one time), so my endurance, if nothing else, improved.
16. Went to Hawaii
One of the highlights of this year. 🙂 I walked on beaches, hiked to waterfalls, ate apple bananas and drank young coconut water almost every day, and mostly just relaxed for about a week. The accomplishment here is that I spent a week doing nothing book-related. I unplugged so completely, it was like a reboot for my brain. That trip still brings a smile to my face months later. 🙂
17. Got in shape
Well, sort of got in shape. My accomplishment with this one is how long I managed to stick with a 4-day/week exercise regimen: 10 months. During the first 3, I lost 10lbs. During the next 3, I discovered I actually have actual muscles! The last 4 I sort of started slacking off, so I’ll need to pick it back up in 2019. :/ Hey, I’m human.
18. Signed up for book signings
If you haven’t known me for a while, you might not realize what a big deal this is for me. Let’s just say those signings are still 9 months out, and I’m already getting anxiety over them. These two events (Indies in Indy and Sweet as a Peach Author Event) will be the first ever events I will be attending as an author. Much of my focus this year has been getting my ducklings in a row so that I will have my stuff ready when the time comes. 🙂
19. Started adapting a book into a sceenplay
Started being the operative word. I’m maybe 2 chapters in so far. I really thought it would be easier. LOL But I promised myself I would keep plugging along with it until it’s done, so I guess that’s what I’m gonna do. 🙂
20. Wrote this blog post
And with these 1,200 words I mark one more goal completed. 🙂
It’s a fault of mine that I pile so much onto my own plate. I’m always operating on the concept that time is running out. Never leave until tomorrow what you can do today, and all that. But I read an article about Albert Einstein recently that brings up a good point we all know on some level, but don’t feel comfortable acknowledging. We tend to look down on periods of inactivity as time that could have been better spent being productive–time wasted, when we already have so little of it to accomplish what we want in life. But the reality is, keeping busy and being productive are two very different things. Constantly patching up holes in a leaky boat might keep the water out, but it doesn’t move the boat any closer to shore.
I call it the perfectionist’s curse. Whenever I get blocked, I start to think something is wrong, which immediately has me looking for ways to fix it. But, of course, I can’t, so instead I find other things to fix or improve. Because I’m afraid that if I stop, if I just do nothing, this gift I’ve been given of living my dream as a published author will somehow drift away and I’ll fade like a ghost.
What makes it so insidious is that it’s not a wholly unfounded fear. If I want to stay visible so readers know about me and my books, I have to do at least a little something every day, otherwise the merciless black hole that is the Internet will sweep me away into the unknown. That’s a lot of pressure to carry. And, to be perfectly honest, it’s pressure I’ve been resenting a bit of late. Which mean I need to change how I operate.
I’m not a fan of making New Year resolutions, but I think I’ll make an exception this time. In 2019, I want to slow down and take time to do nothing. Take time to go outdoors. Take time to get bored. I want to teach myself that it’s okay to slow down, that I don’t need to be constantly doing something, and that I’m allowed to set boundaries that keep me healthy and sane. It’s okay to be a little selfish sometimes.