As you look back on 2017, with all its successes/failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?
Transition was my watchword for 2017. As the year opened, I’d spent the previous 18 months dealing with commitments and unexpected situations that had been wreaking havoc with my personal roadmap. And it appeared that the upheaval was going to continue through the better part of the year. It did.
But here’s a good thing about those circumstances that swept me away from my status quo. I found myself in a place of evaluation. Sometimes the inertia of day to day life shoves aside the time spent thinking about whether the hours are spent on the right things. Those upside down days, endless hours driving to be where I was needed, and complete disruption of my activities and schedule – they provided me the opportunity to review and prioritize.
Turns out I wasn’t getting any nearer to checking items off my “get to it someday” list. And now I had the chance to take a better look.
I Wrote. And I Write.
I write. I’ve always written. The word compulsion could be bandied about with reasonable accuracy. The turn of a perfect phrase makes me smile, and it brings me pure joy if I happened to be the one who put it on a page.
It has been decades since I’ve been published; I was pretty certain the industry had changed. So I decided to learn more, and it turns out there was a writer’s conference in my hometown, on a weekend when I’d be home. That was enough of a sign for me. I registered.
The point of attending this little local gathering was to determine if my passion deserved dedicated attention. In my world, this is a very real consideration. I have this embarrassing habit of finding joy in some new creative pursuit, stocking up on all the accoutrements, diving in one hundred and ten percent. And then growing bored. My closet full of art and craft supplies covered in a thin layer of dust accuse me every time I glance in that direction.
My goal was to take that weekend, learn everything I could, and then make a decision – to continue dabbling or to pursue this craft seriously. Would I be able to write professionally again?
Well, That Was Unexpected
I arrived at the venue and discovered that the little local conference was actually quite the big deal, with nationally recognized speakers, and writers pitching and/or selling their latest success. The fact that I didn’t turn and run in terror gave me some confidence that maybe I was in the right place.
And It Worked!
I learned more in that weekend than I could have imagined. And I made my decision. I set goals and timelines and began to familiarize myself with the local writing community. I’ve begun the never finished task of improving my craft. I’ve learned about publishing and genres and word counts and all kinds of details that I didn’t remember from back in the day. I’ve been fortunate to digest advice from generous experts in their fields. I’ve absorbed all kinds of knowledge and hints and vocabulary (I never knew beats meant that). I’ve met bunches of people who don’t look at me funny when I whip out a notebook and write down a compelling phrase or idea. I’ve edged my way into my local writing community.
Yes, Yes I DID
I even participated in NaNoWriMo 2017. My goal was not noble – I wanted to cement a habit of regular writing. I was successful! I won NaNoWriMo, though I imagine only a small percentage of the words in that document are even worthy of being recycled into something else later. Who know, I’ll address that in January when I go and reevaluate my creation. But I wrote regularly and reinforced my habit.
So, What Would I Change?
Are there things I’d do differently in retrospect? Of course there are. Perhaps I’d have sat in on the big deal agent’s headliner workshop at that conference, instead of the (understandably) sparsely attended beginner’s workshop across the hall. I probably would have purchased a couple of fountain pens sooner. I’d have been more choosy about craft books. And I wouldn’t have considered it realistic to write a thoughtful review of every single book I read. Because, yes, I read many many books.
And What Would I Do Again?
And I’ll continue to read like crazy. Craft books, fiction, poetry, nonfiction, magazines, blogs… Yes, I’d attend that conference (and I will again, in 2018). Yes, I’d talk to all kinds of writers and learn about different genres and craft and style and publishing. Yes, for sure I’d do all that learning again. Yes, making my writing a commitment was the right choice. And, yes, finding the Insecure Writer’s Support Group was pure happenstance, but I’d connect over there again, too.
And I Conclude…
2017 threw me over and left me discombobulated, and that turned out to be the perfect opportunity to look around, set some priorities and make a decision or two. And I think 2018 will be the better for it.