I like lists. I like making them, looking at them, and checking them off. Here's a list of ten (writing related) things that happened to me this year that mattered:
10: I received over one dozen partial and/or full requests from agents since May (I am still waiting to hear back from 5 for one manuscript and 1 for another manuscript)
9: I had my blogs read by real authors like Ellen Potter and Tanya Lloyd Kyi.
8: I sat in a room with Diana Gabaldon, Michael Slade, and Jack Whyte for an entire evening. I didn't say much but I nodded like a fool and didn't hide in the bathroom.
7: I connected with an amazing group of fellow writers via Twitter, such as Brenda Drake, Jessa Russo, Rachel Pudelek, Roselle Kaes, Lauren Spieller and so many more I'm probably forgetting but not because they aren't awesome.
6: Rainbow Rowell and Jill Shalvis tweeted me and The Bloggess followed me. All three events made me inexplicably happy.
5: I read Elenor and Park. It matters. It made me want to be better.
4: I met this truly awesome agent that I won't name. She might not be my agent, but she became my friend, which is pretty cool all by itself. Turns out agents are real people.
3: I found critique partners and new friends, Tara and Kelli, that will go beyond writing and be part of what makes 2014 special.
2: My story, A Not So Lonely Christmas, was published in Foreward Lit's anthology, Holiday Spice
1: I self published Forever Christmas via Amazon
This time last year, we were just returning from California. We visited Disneyland and had the best trip...EVER. While there, we met up with friends and I told them that I was attending a writer's conference in October. I said that I was getting to sit down with an agent and an author to share some of my work. They said to let them know how that all worked out. September came and went in a blur, much like this one will, and in October, I attended that conference. If you've read my blog before, you know I ended up signing with an agent for my picture book: The Princess and the Please. Signing with an agent was like a catalyst for me. I had always been "a writer". But after a professional said, "I like your work enough to sign you", ideas and words exploded. Since that time, I've written 3 more picture books, a young adult novel, 2 full length novels, and a novella. That wouldn't have happened, at least not at this point in my life I don't think, if I hadn't gone to the conference last year.
Since then, I've also amicably parted ways with the agent, met a wide network of absolutely lovely, helpful people that I wish I knew in real life, not just on Twitter. I've grown stronger as a writer, listening to and accepting feedback. I've learned how to write a proper query letter, a synopsis, and what a chore editing can be. I've learned to pitch my work in 35 words, I've had requests for pages, partials, and fulls. I've received multiple rejections and learned to take the advice in them (if they had any). I learned what CP (critique partner) means and I have one. I'm even hosting a give away for the re-release of Jessa Russo's book EVER. I've become a part of an amazing writing community and learned that it's okay that I'm not yet published or still agented. I always say I started in the middle and got put back at the starting line.
In October, I'm attending a writing conference. This time, I'll have a better idea of what I'm doing so there'll be no flukes or luck. When I sit down with an agent this time, I'll know what I want and be offering them my best writing. In the last year, I've also learned that my heart lies in contemporary romance, though picture books are great fun. It'll be very interesting to see what this year brings.
My husband often accuses me of trying to control time and if I'm being honest, he's right. I want to slow it down, stop it in certain moments, or sometimes make it fly. Of course, like everyone else, I am incapable of this but it doesn't stop me from trying.
In the last few years, I've been attempting to teach myself how to just live every day without worrying about the next one. This is next to impossible for me because I can't not (yes, I see the double negative) think about the next thing. I have learned to enjoy the moments more though by truly being 'in' them.
I read an article a long time ago that said that as parents and teachers we often get frustrated with children because they are distracting us from something we were doing, rather than because of something they are doing. The article suggested that when you give your full attention to one thing, it leaves less room for frustration. Basically, if you're not dividing yourself into multiple pieces to do everything at once, you're likely to enjoy the focus activity more and become less frustrated even when problems arise. Since reading this article (I don't remember the source), if I've said I would play with my kids, I play. If I've said I want to sit down and write, I write (perhaps multiple things as once like right this minute, but still, one general activity). If I am teaching a lesson, I am involved in that lesson and not trying to plan the next one in the brief moments of down time. It's helped. I know that what I need to do is still going to be there even if I give something my full attention for a period of time. Likely, each thing that I give my attention to turns out better because I'm not being pulled in multiple directions.
Throughout the holidays, I've really enjoyed the time with my family, being with friends, the chance to sleep in, and the chance to write without worrying about what I should be planning for the classroom. On Monday though, it's back to juggling all of it together and tossing in piano lessons, gymnastics, making lunches, staff meetings and so on. It's easy to find balance when you elminate say, a forty hour work week. It's harder to find it when life returns to normal.
I'm not one for resolutions because I don't like disappointing myself. I've made the exact same 'goals' for the past several new years; be a better person, be healthier, worry less. These goals continue to be my life resolutions rather than my new year ones. So instead of an actual resolution, I try to combine these goals with my life long quest for balance. As reality encroaches, I remind myself that I have been very successful juggling all of these things. It's really difficult though, after spending the better part of the last 16 days in pajamas, grabbing snacks whenever, staying up late to read and play on my iPad or iPhone, and sleeping until I'm not tired, to imagine getting up at 6:30 Monday morning.
Part of me thinks I should jump back in right now: go to bed on time, begin prepping my Monday lessons, and plan out my dinner menu for the next couple of weeks. But, since the post is called back to reality, I might as well be realisitc and acknowledge that what I'm really going to do is write as much as I possibly can in the next two days, stay in my pajamas, eat junk food, play word games, and cuddle my kids while we watch too much T.V. Everything else, can wait until Monday.