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What's Behind Us and What Lies Ahead

It's a new year, and I'm actually pretty excited about that. It's freeing to put away the complications of a long year and start fresh again. I felt pretty good at the beginning of last year, too. But this year might feel even better. Maybe there was just more I wanted to let go of. Truthfully, you can start fresh at any time, but this is a really powerful time to try.

I wrote out a post about what I wanted for 2013, and I decided to look back at it now and think about how the year went.

I've said this before, but I think 2013 was by far my best year when it comes to writing. I finished two first drafts in the first three months of the year. It was an emotional, bittersweet experience. For a while it was mostly painful, but I can look back with pride. (I put everything I have into writing first drafts, so it's definitely worth something at the end.) I spent most of the rest of the year working on the second drafts, resulting in about 15 nearly ideal chapters of fiction. In October, I took a little break from revision to start a new story. I also finished the first draft of my half of Spun of Silver, and got started on its second draft. And got very, very close to finishing the first draft of Miss Masquerade.

And almost all of that work was done without putting pressure on myself to constantly be getting stuff done. I didn't make sure I had something to show Jill every week. I chose to follow what I felt most called to work on at that moment... whether that was writing, revising, outlining, building houses, making Sims, sorting music (which sometimes leads to amazing new ideas), or even just relaxing and taking in inspiration. And it led to my most productive year ever.

I also did a lot of organizing in 2013. I didn't completely finish clearing a space for a new bookshelf and DVD cabinet, but I put a slow, consistent effort into sorting through stuff. I get really anxious when it comes to empty spaces in my room and letting go of possessions, so there was really no way to get this done more quickly. And I'm proud of myself for just getting this far. It may not seem like a big deal from the outside, but inside, it's a huge deal, trust me.

There were some things I didn't do so well with, though...

Health-wise, 2013 was a total flop. Well, I didn't get super sick or anything like that, which I'm quite thankful for. But I probably put the least amount of effort into eating healthy and exercising since I first started thinking about that stuff. If I'm honest about it, it's been a continual downward slide since my Grandma died in 2011. I don't know exactly why, but it's something I've noticed. And I don't really feel comfortable talking about weight and exercising, which maybe isn't helping. I do know that - like it or not - I am a very low energy person, and I have to be careful with where I put that energy. Last year, I chose writing. A lot. And I'm not exactly sorry about that. But I would like to put a bit more energy into health matters this year. If I could even just shift out of this downward slide a tiny bit, that would be great.

Another thing that suffered was reading. I only read 11 books in 2013. That's not even one per month. I've always been a slow reader, but this is pretty bad. Still, I actually know exactly what went wrong here. I spent most of the year reading books I felt like I needed to read over what I really wanted to read at the moment. I had books to review, books from writer friends, and books from writer acquaintances. That's not to say I didn't enjoy those books. I definitely did! (Well, except that book I reviewed. That, I could have skipped.) But I constantly had another book next on the list, instead of just following the flow of what was really calling me. Having everything scheduled is very draining to me. I like to have important necessities planned out, but when it comes to the rest of my time, I like randomness paired with intuition. There was a point where I wasn't even enjoying reading anymore, because I had turned reading into work. That's when I finally followed my intuition and took a break from my list to read some books I was really excited to read. I think I would have enjoyed the other books I read last year more if I had spaced them out better from the beginning. Lesson learned, I hope.

So, what do I want to do this year?

Well, I'd love to have another great year with writing. I learned a lot about revising and editing last year. Writing second drafts has really built my confidence as a writer. I'm finally pretty consistently proud of the work I'm doing. A lot of the time, revising has flowed exceptionally well, probably because I spent so very much time building a good base. But certain parts also had their difficulties. More than I expected. In that way, it's been both easier and harder than I expected it would be. That's why I'm hesitant to set any large goals this year. I think there's a good chance I could finish Magic Inc.'s second draft this year. But I'd also like to spend more of my time on Dreaming in Shadow. Then, there's Miss Masquerade. I don't think there's any chance I won't finish the first draft. And I'm excited to get started on the second draft. As for Spun of Silver and The Town of Raindrops, they are more side projects right now. But who knows? I just want to follow the flow of my inspiration wherever it takes me.

I want to get myself on a pretty regular sleeping schedule that lets me have the optimum amount of rest and time to get things done. For me, that's getting up at 8:30AM, getting my early morning stuff done by 10:30AM, leaving the rest of the day open, until 9:00PM when I relax in the living room with my Mom, then get to bed by 11:30PM. Yeah, I like to sleep 9 hours. It's what I usually need.

And once I get myself comfortably back on that schedule, I'll start trying to fit in more exercise with that extra time.

I'm definitely planning to get another bookshelf and cabinet in my room this year. I'm going to get the rest of the stuff off of my floor and binned. Hopefully, soon. (But like I said, I can't push it.) And we'll see what happens after that.

I'll try to read at least 12 books this year. Haha.

I'm still looking for more balance when it comes to friendships. I met a few new people. I occasionally connected with old friends. I think there were some improvements over 2012. But there were also times, I felt like giving up on socializing altogether. Ultimately, I'm still looking for my tribe.

As a big part of that, I'll (of course) keep calling in my soulmate. Because finding him will always be my most important goal. Until I do. Then, it will be creating a beautiful life together where we can support each other's dreams.

I want to wish you many blessings in the year to come. I hope you meet your goals and thoroughly enjoy the journey there, too.