This is going to be a somewhat long and rambling post, so please indulge me. (Especially since this is adapted from something I just wrote on Facebook.)
What happened in 2018?
In 2018, I don’t know why, but I felt mentally paralyzed. I wanted to do All The Things – volunteer work, blogging, staying on top of the news, etc. I had big plans about interviewing people for this site and writing book reviews, as you may remember.
However, I could never muster the energy to do so in a sustained manner because it always felt like something I had to do, or promised to do, rather than because it was something I wanted to do. To be honest, one of my goals was to write enough good posts in 2018 so that I could be nominated for an Aurora Award. I’ve learned, however, that I really don’t do well with putting that kind of pressure on myself.
What do I want to do differently in 2019?
Thus, I’m officially giving myself permission this year to change my approach to reading, writing, and a whole host of other things, like social media.
I’m going to be doing some personal writing every day. It may be on this blog, or it may be in a notebook. The stuff in the notebook is going to be not-great, and I’m okay with that. You know that quote by Ira Glass about how when you start out being creative, there’s a gap between what you’re capable of, and what you want to be capable of? This one right here is what I mean:
Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit.
Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.
Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.
I haven’t written any fiction, or any stuff just for me in a while, and I want to wake up those muscles again. Who knows what will happen by the end of the year, but for now, I’m just doing random writing prompts and bits of fan-fic because they’re FUN.
Reading and reviewing
In 2015, when I started Books and Tea, one of my unstated goals was to review every book I read. That worked okay when I started out and was full of enthusiasm. But in 2016 and 2017, my reviewing slowed way down, and in 2018 things ground to a halt since I decided then to pivot to interviewing authors. I’m still planning on doing interviews, but I’m also giving myself permission to read books and think about them without reviewing them. I may write a review, but I’m allowing myself to not feel obligated to.
I’m trying to rethink my relationship to social media (which is funny, since I first wrote this out on Facebook at 7 AM, go me). I’m not going to cut it out of my life, but I am going to make a greater effort to spend less time on it, and more time on analog things – like reading and writing, above. I spend way too much time on Twitter and Reddit, and it ruins my sleep. I need to get better about that.
Finally, I want to strengthen my 1-on-1 relationships. The thing that really brought this into focus for me was an email I read this morning that arrived in my work inbox last night: I’ve been accepted for a mentorship program for women involved in Canada’s technical and communications industries. I applied to be a mentee last year and never heard anything back, but apparently I made it in! So that’s exciting.
In addition to being a mentee through this program, I’m going to be working with Community Living Ontario to be a mentor to someone else. I find the symmetry of that really pleasing, and knowing I may be both a mentee and a mentor has really crystallized what I want 2019 to be like.