The Highs and Lows of My Year
December 31, 2015
It’s been many moons since I last updated my blog. I know – bad Wendy, bad Wendy. Shame this isn’t a vlog because that last sentence would sound so much better read in my best dobby voice.
See what I mean.
Anyhoo, I couldn’t let Hogmanay pass without taking some time to reflect on my own highs and lows of 2015. On the whole, it’s been a productive year of personal growth and consolidation, as well as one of hard work and hard truths.
- I’ve been working like a demon to finish the second book of my trilogy, The Book of Seven. The first draft was completed in July and the second just before Christmas. I have a few more round of edits to go before it will be ready for publication, but aiming for a spring release 🙂
- Over the summer, I spent some valuable time with my illustrator, Nahum Ziersch designing the new cover for book #2 as well as giving the first book cover a makeover. All three covers in The Crystal Keeper trilogy now have illustrated, character-driven covers which portray a different scene from each book. I’m hoping the new look will appeal to YA readers and better reflect the tone & genre of my story. Only time will tell if this was the right decision, but I’d welcome your honest feedback. You can see my new covers here and here.
- Writing a work of epic fantasy is a daunting challenge for any new writer. It can be all-consuming, involves careful planning, thought and copious research. The Book of Seven has provided an enormous challenge in terms of the story’s complexity, numerous POV characters and an over-arching plot spanning two centuries. But in return, it’s given me something very precious – true contentment. I realise it’s an ambitious venture to take on for my first published work, but if the last twelve months have taught me anything, it’s how much at home I feel writing in this genre and how happy it makes me. Though it’s taken two years to write my second novel, I’ve now reached the point where I understand my world and characters so much better than when I set out on this adventure three years ago. Just as the world of Galidom and its many colourful characters have grown with time, I feel as though I’ve grown as a writer.
- I’ve read as much and as widely as time has allowed this year, discovering some fab new authors and books through Goodreads, Twitter and recommendation from fellow authors. My reading material has been mainly YA/ fantasy, but I’ve also tried to read outside my genre, some non-fiction on the craft of writing, as well as numerous blogs on self-publishing and marketing along the way. This has been invaluable in terms of strengthening my own writing, honing my technical skills and gaining a greater insight into the publishing industry.
- I’m continuing to slowly grow a following on social media, which has given me the opportunity to connect with some incredibly talented people: from authors, artists and poets to bloggers and avid readers. It’s amazing the wealth of advice, inspiration and support you can gain from making new connections with like-minded folk from around the globe. In doing so, I’ve made new friendships and discovered some fantastic blogs, some entertaining, some insightful and all with something new and interesting to share. It’s also led to a couple of guest blogging opportunities, which although at the time was terrifying, was a great confidence booster.
- In my determination to finish my current WIP and protect my writing time, I’ve neglected my blog and done very little in the way of marketing my first book for the last half of the year. As a result, traffic to my website, blog and book sales have been virtually non-existent. No need to say it, I’ve already beaten myself over the head with a hefty volume of Thirty Ways You Suck. This leads to my next point.
- While social media can be a blessing, it can also be a curse. Not just from the point of it being a time sink, but because it can be self-destructive if you let it. And I have this year, too much. It’s human nature to compare ourselves to our peers. When everything in the garden is rosy, it can work in our favour, other times it works against us, eroding our confidence and feeding our fear. Whenever I’ve felt like this, I’ve found the best thing to do was to step away from social media for a few days until I’d gained a healthier perspective.
- I’ve been guilty of letting the negative voice inside my head chip away at my confidence as a writer and draw me down a negative path on some of my darker days this year. Many of my peers can publish at least one book a year, maintain a weekly blog, are active across social media, run regular promotions and blog tours, create book trailers and solicit reviews… the list goes on. Sorry, but I just can’t compete with this level of superhuman endeavor. Nor should I. One of the most valuable things I’ve learned is that success isn’t a race and it isn’t a competition. I need to carve my own path in my own time and in my own way. Otherwise, what’s the point of flying solo.
- I’ve prioritised my writing at the expense of my health, sitting for hours at a time, which has done my back, my circulation and my eyesight no good at all. These bad habits need to change in 2016 or my career as a writer will be short-lived.
- I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve neglected my family and friends more than I should have this year. Striking the right family/work life balance when you work from home isn’t easy, but I need to try harder at switching off my writer’s brain and give my kids and hubby the attention they deserve.
So as I bid farewell to 2015, I’m not going to make any New Year’s resolutions, I’m going to give myself permission to let go of the things that hold me back and strive to be the best version of myself I can be in 2016.
And on that final note, I’d like to wish everyone a very happy and healthy New Year x