From the title of this post, you can see I didn’t think too highly of 2017. Good things happened too, but they were dwarfed by the crap I waded through. 2017 was a special kind of hell I’m very glad to be seeing in my rearview mirror.
⛈ I’m far from apolitical—just take a look at my Twitter account—but as a rape survivor, watching a man who has admitted to groping women get elected to the highest office in my nation . . . that was a huge slap in the face. As people emerged from whatever rock they’d been living under the last however-many years to support his predatory ways and say it was just locker-room talk, I felt unsafe. (Yes, I have PTSD, so some of that was sparked back to life.)
I don’t want to live in an America where women are seen as objects to be fondled at a man’s whim because he thinks he could get away with it. Ick!
☀️ The silver lining in all of that was the strength of the Woman’s Movement. I marched with my daughter, her bestie, and my best friend. I felt the unity of women and supportive men all over the world, not just in the US. The response to the election was amazing. And the momentum hasn’t stopped. The #metoo movement has changed the conversation from “How not to get raped/harassed” to “How not to rape or harass,” shifting the onus from victim to perpetrator, where it should’ve been all along.
What I discovered was that writing was hard in this climate. Fucking hard. Every day something else in my world was being torn apart, broken. If it had Obama’s label on it, Trump was stomping on it with his toddler shoes, fists clenched in undoing everything his predecessor did just for the sake of his tantrum.
Writing about men falling in love was near impossible for me.
I’m not one of those people who can avoid the news. I need to be informed. I didn’t obsess and read all day long, but the news cycle this year was crazy! Journalists earned their paychecks and more this year, just by reporting what happened. Those that dug to find out the story behind Trump’s Wizard of Oz tactics, they all deserved huge bonuses, and I hope they got them.
⛈ So, writing didn’t happen for me. I had ideas and wanted to write, but every time I sat down at my computer, the cursor and blank page mocked me. Writing longhand was useless too. Dictation, changing my location, outlining, pantsing, typing with my eyes closed, typing jibberish until the words flowed . . . None of my writer’s block techniques got me past it.
⛈ I wondered if I’d ever write again, let alone release a book.
☀️ Okay, I did release Momo, My Everything. That was in February, so yay me! 😃
What I discovered I could easily accomplish as the world devolved into chaos around me was edit. Editing was sort of a soothing balm to my soul, as crazy as that sounds. But there are rules and references to fall back on. When I didn’t know the answer, I could seek it out. With some obscure rules, that meant hunting numerous sites, but at the end, I walked away with an answer, which was oddly satisfying.
☀️ Editing became my coping mechanism and my editing clients increased dramatically in 2017. I used to freelance edit one manuscript a month or so. The last half of the year, my calendar was packed and some months I was reading six to eight manuscripts, depending on the length. Even if I had wanted to write my own stories, I didn’t have time.
⛈ And, of course, that’s when the stories came to me. But I was committed to editing at that point with no breathing room, let alone the sort of breathing room I need to allow a story to fully develop.
☀️⛈ In June I made some health changes to help me deal with the new work demands. I went from working four-hour days back when I taught to now working twelve-hour days (easily) and not taking weekends off. I was overworking myself and saw no way out with my commitments, so I started working out, and soon I was dropping pounds. To date, I’ve lost fifteen pounds, which doesn’t sound huge, but for someone who lost five a year, max, that’s significant.
I sit on my ass all day long reading, staring at a computer screen. I don’t exactly have a high metabolism, so I was thrilled with fifteen pounds. I’d love to lose fifteen more in 2018, or maybe even more! 😉
☀️ But the biggest advantage to walking every day was allowing my mind to wander wherever it wanted to go. That led me to characters or started me off somewhere new in a story that was only a sprout but infused with so much potential. So I have a lot of stories that got started but then stalled out. Or I have chapters written with no plot to anchor them in place. I’ll eventually get there, but with the number of days I spent in 2017 editing, there was no way.
❤️ Then at the end of August, I had a puppy come into my life. She changed everything! There was fantastic and there was challenging. I wasn’t sleeping through the night again. I was anxious and always thinking about her schedule (food, 💩, pee, exercise, training, vet appointments). Soon, I had no time at all for my own stories. I barely had time for my friends.
I realized I need to make some changes to be able to sustain my editing clients and write as well. I want to do both. So in December, I took no editing jobs . . . initially. 😂 I ended up with two jobs because I needed that anchor still. But I have plans for 2018 that involve editing one month and then writing the next month. I can work on my own edits between editing for clients but then have a whole month to immerse myself in writing and story creation and plotting.
There’s a brain shift thing that has to happen between writing and editing, and it’s damn hard to feel free enough to create when all those 🤬 editing rules are in my head. I need the space to get free from the rules.
A few other things happened in 2017 that started off as bad things but ended up as good things. Can you tell I’m a silver-lining person? I am. I can’t help it.
I distributed Naked Origins and Silver Scars through Pronoun and discovered I loved it, so much so I was ready to move all my books over there as they came off of Kindle Unlimited. But then Pronoun announced they were closing their doors.
In the end, I changed how I do things, direct uploading everywhere I can and using a distributer only where I can’t upload. I became a publisher with Google Play. I still have hoops to jump through to get into the iTunes store without revealing my real name, but I’ll figure that out.
Oh, and I discovered how to use advertising more effectively. That was/n’t fun.
I also added an epilogue onto Stroke of Luck. I love it so much. For some reason, I naturally fight against giving a fully developed HEA. I want readers to have the freedom to take the characters wherever they want, but that book really called for more. So now it has the epilogue, and I no longer have the niggling desire to tell another story for them. Cas and Marc feel sated and happy to live out their lives together.
☀️ One other thing I did, which is likely more exciting for me than readers, is reformat all my ebooks. They are prettier! Then I also reworked Farm Fresh, word massaging and fixing a few things that had bugged me. That made me want to print a new paperback, but the reformatting led to more pages in the book, and while I was at it, I decided why not print on cream paper? And if I was going to reformat the paperback of Farm Fresh, I had to do Picked Fresh too. So Farm Fresh now has oranges on the back rather than eggs and the coloring on the front is a tad different. Picked Fresh pretty much looks the same but there are more pages.
So, good riddance, 2017. Hello, 2018. I look forward to what you have in store. I already know what I have planned. I hope I can accomplish it all. Even if I only accomplished half, I’d be happy.
2017 was difficult for so many of us. I’m hoping this first week of 2018 was either the worst that will happen this year or the beginning of something good. We, as a nation, certainly need it!