Are You Standing in your Truth?

Happy New Year! I spent New Year’s Eve at home, chilling out with my husband and youngest (our oldest went back to university a few days early, to hang with peeps). We had our traditional Chinese Food, then played some MarioKart and watched a few episodes of Planet Earth II. I’m not much of a party animal, but we did make it to midnight, and after the hubbub of the holidays, I was happy to just be cozy and relaxed.

I love the start of a new year. I don’t like to make resolutions, exactly, but I do like to make some plans for the year ahead. To look back on the previous year and ask myself, “What do I like about the past year?” and “What can I do better?” I did a pretty good job with self-care, to be honest. Yoga, meditation, walks in the sun… letting go of a few things and accepting others.

The acceptance was a BIG one, and it came late in the year, so I’m kind of using it to segue into 2018.

It’s also the first topic of my article series #transitiontosuccess in the Romance Writer’s Report (RWA’s RWR publication).  From September to November of 2017, I had to stand in my truth. No more promising things would be better next week/next month/when xx happens… Standing in my truth meant dealing with the way things were in the moment. And the truth was, doing the same thing and hoping for different results wasn’t working. There’s being persistent and not giving up and then there’s holding on too tight and not facing reality.

I’ll be honest and admit that career-wise, things didn’t go well in 2017. Part of that was the market – romance authors are feeling the crunch all over – but another big part was that I didn’t deliver on my promises. And by promises I mean everything from deadlines to daily habits. Now, I did intentionally try a lot of different things to see what worked and what didn’t, and I got some results that I’ll use moving forward. Some were successes (some ad stacking/paid promo) and some weren’t (outsourcing AMS ads). I saw my income drop significantly, and then found out in September that my contract with my publisher wasn’t being renewed. Considering a new contract would have meant 3 books with half on signing, my 4th quarter started looking really bleak indeed.

November 1 also saw me take office as the PAN Advisor to the RWA Board of Directors, and shortly after, I attended my first board meeting in Denver. I think it was a combination of getting away from my daily life and the sheer volume of new and different information, along with the wisdom of my fellow board members about what it means to be a romance author right now. It offered me a clarity I hadn’t had before. It also made me realize that I had to get out of the “when xx happens next month” cycle of thought and deal with the here and now. I had to do things differently to look after our family.

Two things stood out clearly.

1. I needed to take responsibility for the downturn in my career. I had to accept that previous burnout and the recovery from it, along with a serious bout of depression, played a big part in my productivity issues. And that my inability to meet my obligations led to my current situation. I’d also read Take the Stairs by Rory Vaden, and my biggest takeaway from that book, and my acceptance of the part I played in losing my contracts, was that I must deliver on my promises. Previous to 2014, I was an author who delivered on time. I was reliable. I need to be that author again.

2. I can no longer make a living on writing alone. Lots of authors have day jobs, and what makes me so special? The answer came back a big, loud, nothing. I’ve been privileged that for the past 15 years, I have been able to write full time. It means I’ve been out of the job market for a very long time. What we really need is for me to have a regular paycheck – even a small one – to help with the monthly bills instead of waiting for quarterly royalties that seem to shrink each quarter. My editing gigs are inconsistent as well, depending on bookings, what kind, and how quickly I get paid. The fix: I got a part-time retail job in December, that will continue past the holidays.

The benefit of all this? I have a new contract and a book on the go, due at the end of this month – which will be DELIVERED ON TIME. 🙂 I have paychecks coming in every 2 weeks to help ease the day-to-day financial strain. And unexpected benefits: I really like where I work. I get to sell chocolate, so my customers are generally happy people and so are my coworkers. Getting out of the house a few days a week has been so good for me! Working from home is great, but there’s something to be said about leaving the house, having social interaction, and even physical labor (there’s always lots of stock to be moved and shifted).

The goal is to move forward with intention in everything I do. To stop being reactive and instead take each step deliberately – in my career and in my life in general.

If you’re an RWA member, you should be able to read the first #transitiontosuccess article on taking care of yourself as soon as the January issue is available.  And I’d love to hear your thoughts on it – just use the hashtag on Facebook or Twitter to join the conversation.

And before I go – I know many of you who are writers are looking at ways to jumpstart your creativity in the new year. I’ve got a book out with my co-editor at the Red Pen Coach, Nancy Cassidy, called JOY YOUR WAY TO A BESTSELLER. Because if you don’t love what you do, why are you doing it? It’s on for $0.99, but only for a few weeks more.

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