So… 2016 wasn’t the greatest year on record for me. It wasn’t awful per se, but it certainly wasn’t full of awe. Not that I expect an entire year to be rock-star amazing, mind you. 2016 was simply a challenging year for me, mostly because I relocated back to Nevada and, aside from painting and cleaning my parents’ townhome so they could sell it, I was unemployed for the last half of the year.
Ouch. Good thing I had money in my savings.
Now, my parents had planned for me and Maya to live with them for a while upon our return, but I had only planned to live with them for a couple of months. My plan did not manifest as I had expected as job prospects in this small city (aside from working in a casino, which I did not want) have been slim to say the least. I am grateful for the generosity of my parents, but as anyone who has been fiercely independent and living on their own for many years can attest, living with your parents is not the easiest situation. For all parties involved.
However, this isn’t something I wanted to blog about, thus the lack of entries. I refuse to endlessly dwell on (and submit my few readers to) all of the “poor me” moments of my life. Because really. That stuff gets old fast. And it’s never third-world country bad. So I work it out and move on.
Plus, I have this girl to keep me busy no matter what.
Now, has it all been a downward slide? Hell, no. To be honest, I had tremendous growth with my writing from October onward, more so than ever. I’ve been talking for years- and I mean YEARS– about completing my screenplay and writing novels. I would talk and “plan” and talk some more and “plan” some more and make excuses and blog about it and halfheartedly attempt to follow through, but I always gave up.
Then an internal switch flipped. I’m not 100% certain of the catalyst for the change, though I suspect the idea of being unemployed and not accomplishing any writing during this period was unimaginable, so that idea factored into the flip. And quite frankly, I’m getting older. I don’t want to go through the rest of my life wondering “what if?”
One morning I awoke and decided enough was enough. In mid-September I began plugging away again. I took an idea and some notes I had stashed away and I developed it. Every. Single. Day. At the very beginning of October, I finished the outline for my screenplay.
I had a minor set-back before I began actually writing the screenplay, but I worked through the mental block, gave a hearty “fuck off” to the naysayers (both real and in my mind), and on October 30, I began to write. Relentlessly. Every. Single. Day. (Again, because that’s what you do as a writer. Writers write.) Honestly, I wrote the shit out of that screenplay. On November 6, I completed the delightfully terrible 90-page first draft of Deacon.
I felt the weight of the world lift off my chest. I felt free. I felt creative. I felt driven, motivated, and light. Most of all, I felt relieved. I can do this. I mean, the screenplay needs a significant amount of revising before I allow anyone to read it, but it has solid bones, flesh-out characters, and some great scenes as it stands. Bonus: I loved writing it. It was difficult but so worth it.
The act of completing the screenplay changed my perspective on the writing process. I clearly see what is truly possible for me and what I can accomplish if I put my mind to it.
I can accomplish anything.
I think the completion of the screenplay also began a slight upward trend for me. Maybe the cooler weather played a part as well. I go outdoors more often. I take more pictures, even if only outside of town. I try new things again, like going on a fantastic, extreme UTV adventure tour outside of St. George with Rachel’s cousin- a man I had never met until the morning he picked me up at my house for the excursion, I might add. Rachel was right though: he and I got along beautifully. It was like hanging out with an old friend. We all went hiking in Zion the day after our UTV adventure. Wandered some trails on the outskirts of Mesquite.
I also began to seek mentors. Not person-to-person, but via blogs, vlogs, email subscriptions, and books. Nearly every single day I absorb some new detail or bit of wisdom. (I’ll list a few sites at the bottom of my post.) These mentors are in the midst of indie publishing and they give solid advice.
I now have a greater feel for and trust in my own voice as I’m writing. At one time I wanted to be a literary master like Rushdie, but I’m quirky in a not-so-elegant way and not a writer of his caliber, which is fine. In fact, my attempts at writing outside my own voice and pretending to be something I’m not likely stifled my progress. As long as I can tell stories that spring forth from the bottomless well within my heart, I will thrive. I want to write stories that allow people to escape their troubles for a brief time and remind them of all the reasons they want to live vibrant, beautiful, messy lives. If I only reach a select few, then so be it. Although, let’s be honest; I do wish that my writing eventually reaches many people. That means one thing: Write interesting, well-crafted stories.
Okay, it means other stuff as well: create a marketing and business plan; outline, write, revise (and revise and revise), and publish as often as producing excellent, creative pieces will allow; connect with and support other writers (both by purchasing their books and giving reviews online) and obtain mentors in order to expand my writing social circle; completely revamp my website and contribute worthwhile content on a regular basis; and, most importantly, live a healthy, physically/mentally/emotionally well-balanced life. OH, while I begin my new full-time job January 2- tomorrow.
Whew! How in the hell will I accomplish this?
Plan. Plan. Plan. I’ve been creating a detailed life plan for the next year and I outlined my three-year goals during the past week. I devised the most focused plan in my life. Will I meet every single goal? Probably not. But it’s far better to create a plan and meet most of your goals or even half of your goals than fail to create any sort of a plan and do nothing because the drive is absent. I chunked my long-term goals into bite-sized pieces and I am determined to meet or surpass many of them. Not one goal is unreasonable or out of reach.
I’ve started to revise “Deacon” and will continue to do so in increments as I finish outlining and writing my novel. I’m in full swing and I’m not going to stop. I created a mind-map of ideas for revamping my website. I am stoked about this process. I’m starting a new job, which means income and a sense of self-worth once again. I can finally begin to contribute to society and move into my own place.
As I reviewed my goals last night during the GoT marathon, I noticed an interesting tidbit: not one single goal I set for the next 5 years (that’s all I planned for at the moment) pertained to a romantic relationship. In fact, even as I dreamed and set my goals, not one single time did “husband” or “boyfriend” or even “partner” pass through my mind. I realized that I have absolutely zero desire for anything of the sort right now.
I want to write my novels. I want to raise my daughter to be a strong, intelligent, empathetic, independent young woman. I want to thrive financially. I want to travel, own my own home, purchase a new vehicle, and be physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy. Could I do that with a partner? Maybe, but I don’t want the distraction. Not one single bit. I’m perfectly content by myself.
So, let’s bring on 2017 and get this show on the road.
Did you set goals? If so, do you have specific plans to meet your goals?
(Oh- and yes: I’m a Whovian.)
The following is a short list of websites I frequent. When I revamp my website, I will add links in the sidebar to additional sites as well as these.