Normally, I finish up each year by posting charts of my word count. 2016 threw a wrench in those plans–although I did write a whole lot, it wasn’t in a format that’s easy to track. I revised a novel that still needs many more revisions, rounded out my first full year as a full-time web content manager, and did some piecemeal work on side projects that may or may not be novels someday. I also spent a few months not writing fiction at all, because writing is a hobby that takes a whole lot of mental energy, and I didn’t have much brainpower to spare after the curse of 2016 slammed into my personal life at full force.
So instead of looking back, I’m looking ahead. These are my resolutions for 2017. I’m keeping them intentionally vague, because this year also promises to be full of possibly unpleasant surprises, and I want to celebrate some victories even if they’re small.
1. Advance in this career I stumbled into back in 2015.
I’d had a hunch for a while that marketing might be a good fit for me, but “marketing” is an amorphous term that covers dozens of actual occupations and hundreds of possible skill sets. Towards the end of 2015, I was finally ready to move on from my admin job, and I ended up in an entry-level digital marketing gig with a small company. I learned a ton on the job–everything from understanding Google Analytics to laying out print books.
Now, after more than a full year in digital marketing, I’m confident that this is a field I’m going to be in for a while. If you told me two years ago that I’d be this excited about work, I wouldn’t have believed you.
I’m still not sure exactly what I want to specialize in, but now at least I know what I still have to learn. That’s why I switched the hosting of this blog off wordpress.com (and beefed up my domain name registry so badly): although you can’t see it from the outside, there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes, and I can get my grubby mitts all over the tools I need to learn more about.
2. Take care of my body and my brain.
I did some smart stuff in 2016. I put a lot of miles in on my treadmill desk; I took up fencing; I managed some extremely stressful situations with more aplomb than even I expected. But there’s still room for improvement. In 2017, I’m going to try to be more proactive about my health. That means making mental health care a regular thing instead of the final option in a crisis, doing exercises not just because they’re fun and stress-relieving but because I need to take care of every part of my body, and being more thoughtful about what I put into my body.
There’s nothing quantifiable here, no number of pounds I plan to lose or inches I plan to trim off my waist. That’s fine. 2017 is not going to be the year I turn into a bikini babe, and I’m ok with that.
3. Put my fiction in front of other people.
First drafts are fun to write, but my relentless focus on word count produced a whole lot of trunk novels. In 2017, instead of producing another first draft of a novel, I’m going to be releasing some bite-sized fiction. And I mean actually releasing it: those words are going to be right here, on this blog, in front of your eyeballs.
This is, I think, going to be the hardest resolution to stick with. It’s also the most important one. After years of guarding my hoard of trunk novels, it’s time to start thinking of myself as a writer who can produce work that’s readable now, not somebody who will maybe finally write something worth reading in 10 years’ time.
I’m starting with a genre that has been a great source of comfort for me: pulpy science fiction. I’m not going to psych myself out by telling myself that I can’t put my name on anything less than great literature here. These aren’t the greatest stories ever written, but they’re the greatest stories I can write right now, and that’s enough for me.