Happy New Year, all!
(And more importantly, happy birthday to my mom!)
2018 was a weird year that I don’t particularly care to reflect on. While I went to some amazing conferences and met some awesome people, I got scammed and had multiple job opportunities disappear into thin air. It was a long, busy holiday season, but I feel refreshed and ready to hit the ground running in 2019.
The busyness starts this Thursday, when I leave for Tin House Winter Workshop—about which I am so freaking excited—and won’t stop for the rest of the year. My seatbelt is buckled.
Last year around this time, I set a goal to get a full-time job by the end of the year. Obviously, that didn’t happen. With focusing writing, including traveling to conferences all over the country and taking classes online and off, I have to admit that didn’t spend a ton of energy on job searching. Writing is what I love and it came in 2018, a lot of it. I don’t feel like a failure, just that life kept me going in a direction in which I already had momentum.
I want to continue writing my face off in 2019, but this year, I want to make money from writing. I made very little ($540) from writing in 2017, and none (like, $0) in 2018. I am determined to make that change this year, with a goal of a whopping $2,000. I’ve gotten a lot better as a writer, and I know that I’m worth paying. This is hard, though; there’s a lot of great publications that just can’t afford to pay. I hate for them to get shut out, but I need to earn my keep.
I want to have 8 essays published—5 longform literary and 3 shortform commercial—as well as 3 short stories (at least accepted, if not actually published). Fiction takes me a lot longer to write than essays, so I’m respecting that about myself. But this year, I want to produce, produce, produce.
For writing conferences/workshops, I made a goal to go to three, but they’re ones that are really hard to get into: Tin House Summer, Sewanee, and Kenyon Review. I’m waitlisted at Kenyon, and the application period for the other two have only recently opened, so I’ll cross my fingers and see what happens. I am going to Tin House Winter, the more intimate, cozy, shorter, and focuseder version of the summer workshop. I’ll be working with National Book Award longlister Nafissa Thompson-Spires on short fiction, and I cannot even put into words how thrilled I am to attend that conference and to work with her (!).
And, yes, I can’t forget about my memoir, the reason I became a writer to begin with. My goal is to actually finish my book this year and start working my way through the list of 100 agents to query. I think I’ve told myself every year that this will be the year, but this year there’s a lot more going on—I’m going to pay more attention to how to set myself up to find a business job, my spouse and I might start trying to have a baby at some point, and I’ve got some other volunteer activities that are taking up an inordinate amount of time, etc.
On New Year’s Eve, I was thinking about everything I plan to do this year, and I felt my body tense up. But then I remembered a scripture I’d read that morning, Proverbs 31:25 NLT, “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” I felt the Holy Spirit tell me to relax. So my word for the year—this extraordinarily busy year that could see a lot of monumental life changes for me—is “relax.” That’s divine irony for you.
I’m excited about my goals and plans, and I’m learning to relax when things don’t work out the way I’d like for them to. I whisper to myself “relax,” remember that that verse is talking about me, and after a while already, I find myself laughing, fearless.