Friday, January 3, 2014
My New Year's Resolution: Contentment
Oh, that elusive feeling: contentment.
It's a brand new year and I'm feeling daunted already. I add challenges and goals to my list faster than I cross them off and as a result, I'm always a bit twitchy. Jumpy. Overcaffeinated. I'm always working and rarely satisfied. My mind runs on black coffee and sleep deprivation. It's not a peaceful place in there.
It wasn't always this way. In 2012, everything about writing was shiny and new. The possibilities were endlessly lovely and I was happy. My small press even gave me an award for my enthusiasm at the annual Lori Foster Reader and Author Get Together. Those were good times, but the feeling didn't last. I soon started to struggle with knowing when I'd done enough and when it was okay to relax and enjoy what I'd accomplished.
As I sat down to write my 2014 reading and writing resolutions this week, I realized I was nervous. Jittery even. Faced with a brand new year of possibilities, I panicked. I realized anything can happen. Anything. Look. There are 363 more days where I can fall on my face and 363 more days of obstacles to conquer. I'm exhausted just thinking of everything I need to do. I wrung my hands together and put my head between my knees a while. While I was folded over, it occurred to me this wasn't normal.
In the interest of being transparent and taking full advantage of this blog as my personal therapist, (you don't mind do you?), I will confess that I feel like a failure as an author. Daily. It was only five short years ago I jostled a newborn in one arm, opened a search engine with the other and Googled "How to write a book." I signed a contract eighteen months later with a small press for a romance novella and I was so super happy... for five minutes. Then I wrote a bunch more sweet romance stories for them, but I was never really satisfied. The books came out. I celebrated and I kept writing. I kicked myself for not selling more copies or for not climbing the publishing ladder faster. I should have been happy with the progress I was making, but I wasn't. I was anxious. Worried. Frustrated. It wasn't enough.
I kept writing. I branched out. In fall 2012, I landed contracts with Carina Press for a cozy series and with Merit Press for a YA suspense. Both those contracts were a BIG deal for me. I'd moved up a baby-writer-rung on the industry ladder and I was elated. ... for five minutes.
I've continued writing and submitting new manuscripts, hoping for another contract. I spend hours online and weekends away seeking name recognition and praying readers will find my books among the millions available. It's overwhelming. I'm tired.
So, this year I'm not writing any resolutions. This year I'm setting my sights on inner peace and I'm making time to be thankful for the journey so far. In 2014 I want to write because it's my passion - not because I'm on a quest to climb ladders. I want to read because it's fun - not because I took the GoodReads challenge and set my bar unreasonably high. No more guilt in reading. No more guilt in writing. Somewhere along the way, my perspective tilted and I lost the joy.
I've had enough of the unnecessary pressure I put on myself. I miss my family. I'm taking back the good stuff.
This year I've given myself permission to relax. To breathe. To be content with where I am. If I never get another contract or sell another copy of anything I've written, that's okay too. The world won't end. I won't die and honestly, my kids probably wouldn't know the difference.
My singular 2014 resolution is contentment.
Three days in and I'm sleeping better already.
Anyone else need permission to breathe? I've got lots of room for company.