Let’s be honest, shall we? 2014 straight-up sucked. Sure, there were plenty of good moments, too. But nearly everyone I know had a rocky year. If 2014 was a person, it’d be the cute guy you see at a party and think, “Oh yeah, I am definitely interested in you!” and then you hear him say something offensive and you try to run away, but it’s a small, crowded space, so you just stand there thinking, “Nope! Nope! Nope! I want to leave!”
But looking back, I have to admit, 2014 involved a whole lot of change for me.
I was definitely struggling at the beginning of the year. I’d just moved from L.A. to Portland and my body didn’t adjust to the cold right away. There were some awesome victories–I bought and assembled my first bed!
Sure, that process started out like this…
Even more twinkle lights!
ALL THE TWINKLE LIGHTS!
2014 also began with the worst writing dry spell I’ve experienced since…middle school, I think? There were a few weeks when I considered 300 words a day a huge success. Huge.
I lost sleep over one of my projects. The final confrontation scene creeped me out so badly, I was too scared to sleep. Of course the next day a repair guy showed up at the house and my eyes were bloodshot, my hands shaking from a potent combination of sleep-deprivation and adrenaline, and my housemates were all, “Ignore her. She’s afraid of her own characters right now. It happens all the time.” The repair guy was surprisingly cool about it though. He just wanted to have a long chat about writing and the publishing industry as a whole instead of, y’know…fixing things.
When I did finally pull myself out of my slump, I started writing with a single-minded purpose that blocked out almost everything else. And somehow, I managed to write three full-length YA manuscripts and a proposal for another project this year. Don’t get me wrong, two of these manuscripts still require serious editing, but I’m rather proud of that accomplishment.
New personal record happy dance!
I wrote two of these manuscripts while rejections from publishing houses trickled in. That alone is a source of pride. It’s hard to stay in a creative headspace when you are on submission. Really hard, actually.
And for the past three months, I’ve also had a day job.
I’ve been reluctant to mention this publicly, because people can act weird when you tell them that writing isn’t the only way you pay the bills. Mostly they imply that writing must no longer count as a career, simply a hobby. Or worse, they act as if seeking out something else means that you’ve failed as an author.
I didn’t want to have to deal with any of that nonsense, so I kept the news to myself.
But not mentioning my day job feels dishonest, especially because I really enjoy what I’ve been doing. I love spending time with my coworkers. I love having a job where you clock out and your work there is done. I love having regular paychecks. I love walking over to the bank and personally handing over the check, but I’d be lying if I said it was an easy adjustment. The learning curve was steep. The pace was demanding. Gone were the days when I could wake up whenever I wanted. Hello alarm clock!
As strange as this might sound, I’m kind of glad 2014 was hard.
It needed to be hard. I wanted to know if I could finish working at a normal job, pull up a chair, crack open my laptop, and write until exhaustion tugged on my sleeves.
And then write a paragraph more.
The knowledge that I can receive a rejection in the morning, return from work in the evening, and still create until late into the night? Priceless. And when I felt like I was floundering the most, I had amazing friends and family members who were there for me. I had the world’s sweetest, most incredible fans telling me how much they enjoy my work. There was still Thai food and laughter and excitement and adventure. 2014 and I did have some very good times together.
But mostly, I feel stronger, more resilient, and ready to begin this year on a completely different note.
2015, you look super cute. Please don’t let me down.