Now that the bombers have been caught and America (especially those of us who live and/or work near target cities like D.C.) can let out that breath we were collectively holding through most of last week, I can get to that blog post that I had been planning before last week's tragedy. I didn't so much make a New Year's resolution for 2013 as a sort of pledge to myself at the beginning of the year to step out of my comfort zone. If left to my own devices, I would be a hermit and by hermit, I mean never picking up the phone, only communicating through email and only going to the store to buy food and craft supplies. I am by nature and introvert with a capital I. This is one of the reasons that being a writer is a good fit for me. It's also one of the reasons why my writing and other creative efforts tend to fly under the radar.
Through an unfortunate series of events toward the end of 2012, I was rather forcibly made to look at the state of my life, career, accomplishments…and realize that I was pretty much being that hermit that my little hater (for a definition of "little hater" see this video) would like me to be. I did a little research and realized that two of the professions in America that are most prone to depression are Writer and Stay-at-Home-Mom and for much the same reason. The work is solitary, and the recognition of success is almost non-existent. Oh, and the pay sucks.
Of course as a Write-at-Home-Mom I'm like a Double Strength Depression Magnet. This is not to say that I was depressed or am now nor was I in January, but I did suffer from Post-partum depression after my daughter was born, so I know enough to recognize the turn off for that bumpy road to Misery Town.
It became strikingly apparent to me that if anyone was ever going to read the novel that I had just finished much less publish it, and if I was going to emotionally survive the process of submission and rejection that will eventually get me there, I would have to start interacting with more people and putting myself out there.
So instead of a resolution, I personally declared this the year of stepping out, putting myself out there for people to see and basically changing what normal is for me. With that in mind. I did a number of things.
- I cut off the long hair that I'd been hiding behind for years.
- I joined a gym, and started going to classes. For an introvert who's been overweight since puberty, I can't overstate how big a step it is to work out in front of other people. It's huge.
- I joined a local critique group where writers come and read their work to be critiqued in person. I'm no stranger to public speaking, I actually enjoy it, but it's a first for me to be reading/speaking in front of people about anything other than tax software or instructional design.
- I joined a very thorough online critique group that tackles one member's novel every 2 weeks. I like this because it forces me to stick to their schedule instead of pushing things off as I am prone to do. And right now, they're all reading The River Maiden. I can't wait to hear their feedback.
- I eventually started working with a personal trainer.
- I sent The River Maiden out to beta readers. This is very big, because it's been in my head for over 10 years. These characters are very personal to me, and I feel protective of them.
My results have been a little mixed. I haven't lost as much weight as I think I should have in 3+ months, but I am much more physically fit than I was in January (and probably have been in years), and I push myself further every week. I also feel 100 times better than I did last year. I'm actually starting to enjoy the feeling of sore muscles and dripping sweat. I learned that even when stepping out of my comfort zone, I'm not interesting in getting my hair cut every 3 weeks which is the approximate time that it takes from my short curls to grow from cute and sassy to old lady hair helmet. So, I'll be letting it grow out a bit.
In the second quarter of this landmark year, I'm planning to…
- Start querying agents for The River Maiden. I'm happy to take recommendations from anyone who knows a good agent
- Keep showing my work to more people
- Keep building my online social media presence
- Overhauling my etsy store, something I've been putting off for too long.
…among other things. I'll update you on my progress.