I’m a glass half-empty kind of gal.
It’s easy for me look back at 2013 and lament the things I didn’t do, the goals I didn’t achieve, the lack of productivity in my days. But I won’t. At least, not here and not at this time. So here’s a positive spin on things. . . .
--I had two short stories published this year, which is double my fiction publication record of any previous year. One of them, Snow’s Daughter in NewMyths.com, was my first paid piece of fiction ever! And the other, Immortal Life, appeared in an awesome science-in-culture webzine I love, LabLit.
--I wrote three new stories after leaving my position this spring. Only three new stories! my critical self mourns, and kicks me for emphasis. What happened to my dreams of productivity? But damnit, they’re good stories. I think that one is the best I’ve ever written. At over 8,000 words, it’s the longest, most ambitious, and most emotionally complex thing I’ve ever tackled. And I think it works. My brilliant First Reader and members of my critique group think so, as well.
--I joined a critique group! Joining Critters is paying off in ways that exceed my expectations. It’s not just about receiving thoughtful, honest criticism from dedicated fellow writers. It’s about meeting and joining that community of dedicated writers—of finding those others who understand what it means to spend hours with imaginary people in your head, or to spend a day agonizing over the rhythm of a single sentence. I have no one to discuss “craft” with in my physical, real-world life. Meeting these others online—even just exchanging an e-mail or two with them—makes me feel less lonely.
And the gains to be had from critiquing others’ work? That’s a post in itself. Having my work critiqued is incredibly valuable, but regularly critiquing others’ stories is at least as valuable. The weekly critique requirement of Critters doesn’t just force me to recognize and articulate why elements in a story do and don’t work. It forces me to think about how a story could be better. It makes me think about the differences between a good story (and I’ve seen many good stories on Critters) and a great story (which is rare even among professionally published works).
--I took an online course in medical writing, got my first 2013 gigs as a freelance medical writer, and have learned a lot about new technical writing genres. Perhaps I’ve been a bit disappointed that the pay hasn’t been as high as I’d like relative to the hours I’ve put in for a project. Perhaps I’ve been a little disappointed that more gigs haven’t flowed in. Small steps and patience, I advise myself. Just before the winter break, I landed a gig with a new client which (if they like my work) promises to turn into a regular, well-paid, and interesting assignment. I’ve learned a lot about the medical writing field, I’m networking with other medical and science writers, and as I gain more experience I should be able to work faster and increase my effective hourly rate. (My clients generally pay on a per-project basis, not per hour. So the faster I complete a project, the more I effectively make per hour). And as I network and gain more experience, more clients and gigs will flow in.
--I got another scientific publication. Middle-listed author for a piece of work that made use of experiments I did in my first postdoctoral lab six years ago. But at least those constructs and GST-pulldowns turned out to be worth something in the end, after all. I guess you never know.
--I spent a lot more time with my family. And this is the big one.
When I left my job, it meant having weekends—every single weekend—to spend with my family again. And not just with my husband and children. This year two new nephews joined my family, and I’ve been able to spend time with them both. This summer we rented a house at the beach, and we were able to host my parents and both of my sisters and their families (which includes the aforementioned new nephews!) for a wonderful gathering. We flew to L.A. to spend Thanksgiving weekend with my husband’s family; we hosted Christmas for my parents and Sister #1 and her family. . . I’ve cuddled babies and a sweet toddler. . . And oh, yes, I’ve cuddled my own children as well--a sweet and quirky 6-year old and her wise and patient 9 year-old sister.
I’ve watched my children grow over this past year. I’ve had more time for them, and for my husband as well. In the end, that was the most important thing of all.
2.5 hours to go here, and onward to 2014. 2013 was rough and crappy in ways that I don’t mention here, but it had its moments, too. Some very good moments. Here's to more good moments in 2014, and a few less of the crappy ones!
Happy New Year's!