Bear with me on this long, somewhat rambling, personal year-end update.
Most years I post my big year-end resolution lists with goals and plans for the new year. This mostly involves the writing side of my business, so I would share those lists on my freelance writing site. This year I didn’t share that list.
Actually, this time I’m entering the New Year partially blind. I have ideas of what I want to do — just not as much as usual. And I know what I need to do in some other areas, even though I don’t really want to in some cases. But that’s about it.
You see, 2018 really knocked me on my ass. It’s been ok on the freelance side. It’s even been ok when it comes to longer manuscripts (I’ve revised a novel and a nonfiction manuscript and I’ve drafted another novel and several short stories for example).
That said, I’ve largely stepped back from my sites. And they’ve been a huge part of my business, where most of the passive income comes from.
One of my biggest sites is heavily tied to something, or someone, that caused immeasurable pain this year (and for a year or so before that too, though 2018 has been the hardest).
I won’t get into who that is or what they did. But suffice to say they did more to make me feel utterly worthless than anyone ever has — my value going only so far as I could be of use to them. Then I was something to be discarded — by one of the people I care about and trusted most in this world.
This person played a role in costing me two of the most important things to me (one indirectly and the other all on their own). And the latter is irreplaceable. It affects every single day of my life. It’s not something time can heal. It was the one thing that kept me going every day. That gave me purpose. That gave me hope. And because of a combination of ego, selfishness, and dishonesty, I haven’t felt those things in quite some time.
As I said, one of my sites (and a few planned projects I’ve since scrapped) became a constant reminder of this person and the way they manipulated me and used me and lied to me for the better part of two years. I took short breaks hoping time would help and I’d be better able to dive back in. But it never helped.
Things got worse this year when I took an early break. It didn’t help me feel better. But any focus on the site made me feel infinitely worse. And then the guilt set in. So I stayed away most of the year… which led to more feelings of guilt. And while I haven’t finished my normal yearly planning because I don’t have a hell of a lot to feel hopeful about or look forward to at the moment, I did come to one decision.
I decided it was time to more officially separate myself from that site.
- I shut down the blog and archived the articles in an easier-to-browse way.
- I’m keeping a few income-generating aspects of the site up and active, but intend to hand over the reigns for those things in the next 3-6 months.
- I did turn down an offer to sell because I’m not ready to lose it, something I’ve spent over a decade building, just yet.
- While there are a few posts and newsletter updates scheduled, most time I spend on those readers will be through downloadable resources and e-books — work I can technically do off-site until their release.
Part of me just wants to burn it all to the ground and walk away. The love for it is gone. The passion is gone. The purpose is gone. But I also know I still have things left to do in that broader community. And I know much of what I can still do away from that site will benefit its readers.
It’s not exactly how I wanted to start 2019, or any year — trying to distance myself from a project I’ve cared deeply about for so long. But it’s something I need to do, because if I don’t, before long I’m not sure I’ll have anything left to give.
The Road Forward
Distancing myself from one of my main sites could prove to be the biggest change for me in 2019. But while I haven’t gone through my usual planning yet, I do know there are a handful of things I want to do.
- I’ll largely be going “dark” in the first quarter of the year. I’ll still post job leads and market updates on the freelance writing site along with a couple of promised updates, but other than that, this will be my last blog post for a while. At least on my own sites. I’m also backing away from all social media other than that site’s account where I also highlight those job leads.
- I have two manuscripts fairly close to being publication-ready. I’ll spend the first quarter cleaning them up until I’m ready to send them to beta readers. And I hope to release them by the end of the year.
I’ll be spending much more time on other creative pursuits — my music, painting, and poetry for example. Not only do they help me cope and keep my stress levels in check (which, thanks to the things I’ve mentioned above, have re-triggered a serious health condition I thought I was finished battling a few years ago), but I’m re-thinking ways to incorporate these things into my broader business.
- While I’ve been politically vocal this year, I don’t generally talk about my deeper involvement. I’ve gotten more involved in campaigns and causes I care about this year. Before starting my business, I did a lot of campaign and fundraising work with nonprofits and artists, raising awareness and a relative crap-ton of money for deserving causes and organizations. And I’ve been trained in, and involved in, political work along these lines in the past as well — regretfully not more. While I’m still sorting out how I’ll budget my time in the New Year, I’ll undoubtedly be even more involved in everything from political campaigns to local charity events and international causes like refugee assistance through 2019.
- Something else I’ve been quietly doing this year is putting my years of experience as both a writer & PR pro to use in ways I’m not willing to share just yet. Suffice to say we live in an age where research and media relations skills can make a big difference. And I have a few projects in this area I intend to dig more deeply into.
Some of this is about re-inventing my business (and I’ll be working on new launches to replace sites I’m moving away from; I’m not leaving web publishing by any stretch). But some of it is also personal. No one can give me back what I’ve lost over these past couple of years. No one can take away that pain, or bring back the joy that was sucked out of so many things I used to love.
But there are still things I care about. So focusing on them makes me feel just a little bit better in the meantime. And while I can’t guarantee that person will ever learn the lessons they need to learn to stop destroying lives for selfish gain, and while I can’t convince someone who’s been lured into spouting and acting on thinly-veiled hatred to be a better person, I can counter some of the broader harm they’ve caused and supported. My skill set was made for it.
So no. There’s no big list of goals and resolutions. At least not yet. I still have a week off before I’m back to work, so that may change. But I’ve spent the last year being reminded daily of the things not in my power to fix. And those things won’t disappear when the calendar changes. But there are still a hell of a lot of things that are in my power.
For this coming year, I’m going to embrace those few things that bring me the most joy. I’m going to bring more of that into my work. And I’m going to spend 2019 reminding myself and everyone around me exactly what I’m capable of… and why the last place anyone wants to be is in my way.
I’ll catch you up when I resurface this spring. In the meantime, happy new year. May peace, joy, and success come to all those who deserve it, comfort to those who seek it, and a swift kick in the ass to those who need to do better. I’m sure you know which one you are.
2018 can’t end soon enough. See you on the other side.