At year’s end: reflection and renewal

I admit I started writing this blog post with more than a little bit of trepidation. Even titling it was difficult: “Year in Review” is too boring, or at least, doesn’t accurately reflect the mental state I find myself in. “Two steps backward, one step forward” seemed both negative and overly optimistic given how unexpectedly difficult the year was. It’s hard to plan “forward” when you still think another shoe might drop, but “Two steps backward, one step backward” (a motto my husband and his friends came up with one year) seemed unnecessarily negative.

Yes, as I wrote in my last post, I’m still in the grips of burnout; coming out of it slowly, making tentative plans for the new year, yet not without considerable doubts because I had such high hopes for 2018 and now find myself limping, feeling rather beaten up (if only by myself), into 2019.

The year wasn’t without its successes…

At this time last year, I was working on the untitled sequel to Sodom and Gomorrah on a Saturday Night. I hadn’t yet started on the Raccoon Rescue sequel (Raccoon Retreat), nor had I written any of the stories that came to me as a result of business travel.

All of those are complete, together with a few unexpected stories that came together just before everything fell apart in the last quarter. The Sodom and Gomorrah sequel, The Kings of Babylon, as well as one of the short stories, “God’s Country,” were both published, along with “Liliya and the Lost Relics of Bygone Futures” and “Tayaran.”

… but also wasn’t without disappointment

It’s hard, though, to celebrate those successes when there were also some pretty big failures. Raccoon Retreat, while finished, is delayed until at least spring. I’m stalled on the third Sodom and Gomorrah sequel. Most of what I wrote this year has yet to find a home, and options, including self-publishing, seem so limited.

My outlook is colored by some personal and professional setbacks, including a physical issue that took me the better part of a year to recover from, and some blind spots rather rudely exposed at work.

In many respects this year feels like a process of burning away, though it’s still unclear to me what, exactly, was burned away. As appealing as it feels at times to simply toil in obscurity, on another level I know this isn’t working for me anymore. And, while there’s a lot I could be doing, it’s often hard for me to sort the good ideas from the good ideas for me.

My hope is to be more intentional in the new year with my efforts, something I’m hoping to receive help with through professional coaching. The pieces are there; making them fit in a way that makes sense is the challenge.

No place to go but forward

The thing about new years is that they don’t offer options for resets. Heading into 2019, I find myself not without ideas, including a short story collection or two. There are stories I want to finish and other stories to write, including some in universes I’ve already created. Having relied in the past on writing fiction as an anchor during uncertain times, I’m looking to employ the same strategy in 2019 — and see where the road takes me.

What does your year in review look like? What lessons did you learn, or are still learning?

6 thoughts on “At year’s end: reflection and renewal

  1. Thank you for sharing Christa. I’m afraid, much like this time last year, I don’t have much interest in looking back on the year. I’ve accomplished some things. I did okay on goals, but ultimately I can only see loss. And the frustrating part of the loss is that it’s completely out of my control. I guess in my journey of self-discovery that is one weakness I am learning that I have. The ability to let go what I cannot control, and the flip-side -> grasp on to what I can.

  2. This year for me has been defined by a deeply hurtful disappointment in one of my few remaining relationships with my family of origin. I have contorted who I am to maintain this family relationship for too long, and feel it’s time to largely let it go. I also have found this year that I have been contorting myself for one of my few friendships as well. My trust issues from an abusive childhood make it difficult for me to make meaningful friends, and I think I need to find peace with being largely alone.

    I am not a writer, but I have been energized by a non-fiction book idea this year which draws on my personal experience, photography qualification, and the undergraduate degree I’m currently working on. I plan to continue researching that this year, and focus on the relationships with the family I have made.

    You are more brave than I am with posting such personal thoughts online. Kudos.

  3. Hey Tony, I saw your blog post but I didn’t realize that the brevity of it indicated so much letdown. I was talking to another writer on Goodreads who experienced similar in 2018 — seems like it was a year of setbacks for more than just one or two of us. And, you’re right, much of it out of our control. I’ve never been good at knowing when hold vs. fold, to paraphrase Kenny Rogers, largely because early expectations led me to believe I was responsible for everything. What I’m working on now is learning to trust my own intuition. I’ve been meditating over the past week or so on goals for this year, and I’m in a better place now than I was when I blogged this — cautiously optimistic. Hoping the same for you.

  4. Jill, I can relate to your comment more than you can imagine. I’m glad you recognize the extent to which you’ve been contorting yourself, and your willingness to be alone with yourself to find your way. That’s scary for so many people, and it’s often easier to fall back into the old familiar patterns. So, kudos back to you, especially on making room for the family who love you. And YAY nonfiction book idea! Please keep me posted!

  5. Sounds like 2018 was a hard year <3 I think moving forward with intention is a good goal; over the years I've learned that there's rarely much point in making very specific resolutions, because life takes over and makes you do different stuff anyway. But I think taking stock of where I'm going at each juncture that appears has helped me to move forward in a more positive way. I hope 2019 is better for you!

  6. Scar, yes, after the “cluster” that was 2016 and the incredibly good year that was 2017, I didn’t expect to have another tough one quite so soon. But 2018 ended up sort of recalibrating a lot of the lessons that 2016 brought me, especially with regard to the blind spots. Something is shaking out, which would be good; I could use the break!

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