I like to write happy, hopeful posts. I like to talk about celebrating writing successes, however small. But I also like to be honest, and this has been a shit year that has crushed me physically and mentally, and I am weaker for the experience, not stronger.
I came into 2022 full of hope. I had most of a workable draft for Tombtown Book 2 (The Beautiful Decay), something I had been trying and failing to make for years. I finished that and sent it to my early reader, starting a new draft in the meantime — Avari, my first slice-of-life space fantasy. I nearly finished that as well, and quite early in the year. I was on track to publish not one but two books in 2022, which was much-needed because our household income took a huge hit at the same time that the UK cost of living rocketed into crisis status. It’s not very romantic to write to put bread on the table, but that’s my job. I ran the numbers and thought that so long as I at least crowdfunded both books before December 2022, we’d scrape by.
But then a third crisis hit, this one of a personal nature. I won’t go into it but things went terribly, horribly wrong in my family and somehow I was the main person responsible for holding it all together. As an autistic, anxious person who has only held their own life together by their fingernails, this obviously consumed all of my time and headspace. And then it got worse. And worse.
And needless to say, when there was finally some positive news, finally a release of the constant building pressure, I had gotten little work done for months and I was a husk of the person I had been before, having operated far outside my ability for so long that I had picked up all sorts of new trauma and related health problems.
So that takes us to today. It’s October 2022. I have only just begun editing The Beautiful Decay. I have made no further progress on Avari. And even were I to have a sudden burst of energy and manage to finish TBD in a month or two (it’s not unknown to happen), that would still take me too late in the year to crowdfund it now. December is a no-man’s land for crowdfunding. It won’t even be feasible until mid-January.
So I’ve gone from hoping to publish 2 books this year to staring down publishing zero books this year. And that deadline was not decided by some big publishing industry person but by my own finances, so needless to say, missing it is a problem.
What’s more, I already write mostly novels. I write big projects that take years to complete and therefore don’t come out very often. And I’m still a relatively unknown name. All the time I leave between publishing hurts my career. And while I am deeply fortunate to have wonderful readers and supporters, some of whom support me monthly on ko-fi, that support is also dwindling. I am not the only one facing financial or emotional hardship, and I have also failed to do most of the things that make people want to support me. I haven’t published a book. I haven’t been blogging. I haven’t been writing microfiction. And my stream was patchy or non-existent for weeks.
There is no silver lining to missing those deadlines, or to the shitty year I have faced. I am weaker now, and the work is harder, and the support is less, and I am afraid. I want to tell people ‘I promise I am still working on this. I promise these books will come.’ Because it’s true and I am and I have been. In spite of everything, in spite of how slow and painful it has all been, I have been working on and continue to work on my novels. But I know how empty that sounds when I was promising that before and the books haven’t come.
So I am mourning the year I have lost, but I am also moving on. I can’t change that from a career perspective, this year has been a failure. I can’t change that things are going to be rough financially going forward. But I can keep working. I can try to rebuild myself and my habits and my writing in a way that is healthy and not harmful. So I am laying aside the desire to rush the edits, because that is an attempt to hold onto something that is already irretrievable. That deadline came and went. Onto the new.
So I’m looking at 2023. And I know that The Beautiful Decay will be ready early next year. And I know Avari will be ready after that. That’s two published books planned — both intended for this year originally, but what can I do? Better next year than not at all.
And I’m looking at November and thinking it would be really good and helpful to use a familiar old writing challenge to rebuild my habits from the ruins, so I’m going to draft another novel then as well. The likelihood of me fitting 3 published books into 2023 is extremely unlikely, particularly as I require crowdfunding to make each one happen and that’s a huge task, but it’ll feel good to have it ready to go regardless.
I haven’t achieved what I wanted to this year. And that’s not just disappointing: that’s scary.
But I’ve accepted that. It’s time to take the determination that saw me through this mess and see if it can carry me into a more successful future.
I hope so.
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