I feel the need to preface this post with a cheerful holiday greeting. Because this is going to be reflective, and at times negative, but overall, it's the holiday season, and while things don't feel quite as merry and bright this year as they have in the past, my heart is easily infected by holiday cheer. And an affection for dancing snowmen. Those two things are in there along with everything else. But I'm also kinda ready for this year to be over.
I realize we still have a few weeks to go, and 2016 might still do something awful to further bring us down. But I'm ready to say goodbye to it anyway. It's been...an interesting year. I won't get into all the reasons 2016 has been challenging for the world--all somebody has to do is browse around online to see the news coverage, memes, and general complaints about what a hard year it's been. But I will say, it's been something of a rollercoaster for me. World issues aside, I'm ending this year feeling...tired. At least, that's one word for it. I've rolled a few options around in my brain and "discouraged" doesn't quite feel right, though I've had days when I definitely was. Still, it doesn't capture the feeling quite the way "tired" does. Or the way "worn down" does. It's been another year of balancing hope vs. disappointment until disappointment ultimately won out. And eventually, inevitably, that starts to grow roots.
It's been about seven years since I set out with the goal of being published. It's been four since I signed on with my agent, who continues to be amazing, and has patiently stood by me as I wrote book after book, to mostly positive reception, but not a single offer. The first year was hard--it saw what was arguably the biggest heartbreak as we got as close as you can get to receiving an offer only for it to not pan out. But I soldiered on because I was only a few months in at the time. I had a lot of hope. I still do, but year after year, it gets harder. I think that's only natural. Time wears things down. It wears people down. It makes old heartbreaks hurt less, but it also causes hope to fade year after year. I don't hope the same way I used to. I don't expect anything to happen. My best defense has always been to keep writing. As long as I'm looking ahead, I can't afford to spend much time looking back. But when you're on a journey, even if you keep your eyes forward, eventually your legs start to feel tired. That's where I am now. Still looking ahead, my eyes still on a goal I want as much as I ever did, but my muscles feel weary. I know stopping isn't an option if I want to reach my destination, but there's also a tiny voice in my head that's whispering, "You'll fail if you stop, but you might also be walking forever."
That's less likely if I keep trying. I know that. I know if I keep writing books, and keep working hard, and keep reaching, odds are, something will work out. But knowing the odds are probably in my favour--and knowing if all else fails, hell, I can just self-publish my books and at least people will be able to read them--doesn't stop me from feeling run down. It doesn't stop me from ending this year feeling like I failed on some level.
In reality, I've accomplished a lot this year. Freelancing and parenting aside, I finished a contemporary YA in the summer which I really enjoyed writing, and I think it's a compelling and quite lovely story. The adult romance I started for NaNoWriMo has been a refreshing experience--one I probably needed after writing several YAs that haven't gained traction. I'm excited to continue working on it into 2017. I'm excited to see if I have more luck with it than I've had with my YAs. In a way, I hope so, but YA is where my heart lies, so I still strive for success there too, even if it's a tough genre to break into. I'm enjoying writing the adult romance, but YA is what I want to write. It's where my voice feels strongest. And I have enough ideas to last me a long time yet. Which is another reason I know I'll keep going for a long time to come. I'll keep trying. I love writing. I love the time I spend doing it, and I love reading over what I've written, feeling like I've created something magical. I just hope that other aspect of it--the part where I get to share it with the world--comes along sooner than later. Because I do feel worn down. And I could really use a boost.
It's arbitrary, the start of a new year. But I face it armed with the clean slate we all try to carry into January. The rejection of 2016 can't directly touch me there, even if it's left me battered. Whenever something doesn't happen one year, it might happen the next. It might. It also might not. But I can't know that. I can only try. So that's what I'll do.
I don't like being negative. I'm not a negative person by nature. But there's a line I wrote in my contemporary YA, IT FALLS APART, that says, "You can’t be optimistic until you’re finished being sad." Sometimes you just need to get it out of your system. And then you begin again.
If you've made it to the end of this post, thank you for reading--and thank you for visiting me here on the blog throughout the year. The site itself has gone through some changes as I've had to make adjustments since relaunching it almost a year ago. I'll be continuing to make more changes in 2017, and hope you'll keep me company as my writing and publishing journey continues. I hope your heart is full of joy and peace and kindness this holiday season. I hope you carry that with you into the new year--I think we're going to need it. And if you have a little optimism to spare, I'll gladly take it off your hands :)