This month I realized I hadn’t posted here since July, and didn’t want to end 2018 on that note. So, an EOY reflection…and I would say an explanation of where I’ve been, but if you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time you know I tend to drop off the face of the earth for long periods.
I try not to do this, and I am working on it. But I think I also need to admit that perhaps my regular schedule is flurries of activity followed by periods of silence.
Twenty-eightteen was, in a word, packed. In January of this year I started school at a new college in a new program, in the hopes of entering a new career. I spent two full-time semesters, Winter and Fall, working my ass off to be as good as I possibly could be in this new potential career.
While I did get straight As (A+s first semester, 4 As and an A+ second semester), I still have no idea if I’ve accomplished that. Grades don’t necessarily translate to “I am good at my job.”
My practicum starts in nine days. It’s an unpaid internship, basically, and I need to complete it to graduate in February 2019. The practicum will tell me, finally, if a) I am actually good at this and b) do I actually like it?
I think the answer to each question is yes, but I won’t know until I’m in it. And so, I am facing 2019 with not a little bit of fear.
Some may be wondering if my starting a new career means I’m giving up writing. On the contrary: starting a new career means I can continue writing.
Right now I’m self-employed, which is great, because I set my own hours and do what I love. What’s not great is that it can be much harder to get the hours needed to make ends meet when one is self-employed. As well, the type of self-employment I am engaged in means my work brain is never off. There is no “Go into the office, work 8 hours, go home and not think about work until tomorrow.” Work is always on my brain.
When you pair that with “I need to do a certain amount of work to make ends meet,” you can end up with serious stress and burnout. It feels like you never stop working, even if your month’s billable hours are pitifully low.
Working a job outside the house will help mitigate that. It will let me continue doing what I love and also pay the rent, which will make my spouse happy.
Writing-wise, I did not accomplish all I wanted to this year, but I did make some serious strides in making writing a priority in my life — even with the insane amounts of time school took up.
I started 2018 with a simple goal: write every day of the year. I didn’t make that, but I did write every day for the first 243 days of the year, and my current total is at something like 264 days. (The file with the numbers is not handy at the moment.)
My aim with this goal was to turn writing into a habit, not something I left off for ages before going into a flurry of activity and writing 25K words in three days. While flurries and fallow periods might be a part of my natural cycle in life, I want my writing to be my religion: a constancy, even when it’s pissing me off.I want my writing to be as constant as religion -- even when it's pissing me off. Click To Tweet
What I learned throughout this year is that if I want that constancy, I need to expand what I think of as “writing”. There will be times when I’m not able to actually write a chapter or a poem — where I’m noodling in notes about worldbuilding or themes, or when I’m journalling out my demons so they can stop getting in the way of my life.
So while my wordcount file says I stopped writing in the middle of August (though I hit my wordcount goal of 75K in May), I actually did continue to write into September, and then I actually stopped as school started and the ground dropped from under my feet.
However, my big goal this year was simple: finish From the Ashes. I’ve been working on the sequel to Stranger Skies for what seems like an eternity, and I want the story out of my brain and on paper, so I can really make it good. So far, it hasn’t happened — From the Ashes sits at over 120K and not done yet (and with scenes I need to go back and add!).
I say yet, because at this moment I’m sitting on writing retreat with my mom and Lord Tyee, the wundermutt, at a bed and breakfast in Fort Langley. We have until a few days into January to sit and write, read, crochet, and watch movies and TV shows in my ongoing quest to educate my mom fully in pop culture.
It’s only the 28th. There is every possibility I finish From the Ashes in the next few days. This may be an example of me being an epic dreamer, but hey, may as well take a chance, right?
During the summer, I spent some time up at mom’s new place, which is finally actually hers (it was only half hers for most of the year — it’s a long, complicated story that at this point I don’t fully know and would take an entire blog post or several to write about).
Her new place is great and I had a really good time. I turned 32 in quiet Powell River and then we headed down to Sechelt for the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts, where we had spots in the Independent Authors Tent.
After the festival it was a whirlwind of activity for me as we prepped for school starting in September, my annual trip with my husband to a party in the woods for Labour Day Weekend, and my starting a huge change in my life: cutting added sugars out of my diet.
At first I had the (crazy) idea to cut out both sugar and grains. That…was ludicrous, especially when I was at school five days a week and exhausted the rest of the time. So we scaled it back to just sugar.
The first several days of withdrawal are absolute hell, and finding foods without added sugar is nearly impossible. I may have broken down crying in the grocery store a few times. But you know, with almost 4 months of almost completely no added sugars (I had “cheat” days, like, you know, Christmas)…wow, life is different.
Different and better. I’ve got more energy and I’m feeling slightly better, which when you’re chronically ill is major. My tastebuds have changed and I don’t need the super sweet stuff anymore. Most sugary items taste kinda gross to me now; most of my cheats are things that don’t actually have that much sugar, but cumulatively add up. (Like…every single processed food in the grocery store.)
The complete and utter downside, of course, is that I pay heavily for my “cheat” days. (I hate that phrase because it’s not a fucking diet, but I can’t currently think of a better one that conveys my meaning.) I had sugar on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and the 27th (it’s after midnight that night as I write this). Tomorrow and the day after I will be fighting a major migraine and joints aching like it’s going out of style.
Speaking of health, one huge downside this year was my disc slipping out of my spine — again. This has happened three times in the past two years (it happened twice last year — once in April and once in July, both Camp Nano months, of course) and it has been terrifying and frustrating and horrible all at once.
The terror — is this the moment I become paralyzed? The frustration — why can’t I do a single fucking thing? Horrible — I am in so much pain I want to die.
The lucky thing was it only took a week to recover to “semi-functional” this time, so I missed only 5 days of classes. I was able to catch up and get back to fully functioning within the next two weeks.
However, this happening again so soon made me wonder if something has gotten worse with my spinal injury. So I asked my doctor for a CT scan on my lumbar spine, and he arranged that for me. I go in on New Year’s Eve. (Yes, I got one scheduled for before the end of the year! It’s a Christmas miracle.)
Looking back on this year, I feel it was a pretty good one. The past several years have been very hard, emotionally. This year was difficult on a physical level — I am quite literally so exhausted most of the time I feel as if I’ve been drugged — but it didn’t seem to have the same amount of gut punches as the past few years have.
I’m not particularly sad to see 2018 go, though honestly I could do with a few extra days tacked on here to get more shit done before the New Year ticks over. I am excited to see what 2019 will bring. I feel I accomplished more goals this year than I have in a while, and I want to build on that success.
I’m also very proud of myself for making the strides I have in improving my health, and I also wish to build on that — especially once I get the CT scan results and know a bit more about what’s currently happening in my lower back.
On that note, I need to stop writing this post and get my butt to bed. I can feel the sugar-withdrawal migraine building already…tomorrow’s going to need so much coffee.