Thursday, January 2, 2014

A new year and a new start? No thanks

So a new year arrives and another one disappears.  The clock strikes midnight and we toast and celebrate, and then I do it all over again when the 'real' new year arrives (I'm still on London time for some things).  But what does it really mean?  Does life change in the time it takes for the second hand to strike twelve?  Can we learn from our mistakes and resolve not to take them forth into the year ahead?  Does everything change on the stroke of midnight?

Personally I am not so sure about the idea of resolutions, and I never make them.  In fact, I do the opposite.  I purposefully ensure that I don't change anything in January, if only to ensure that I do not join the crowd of people who by the end of January have already got their faces back in the biscuit barrel at 9 pm.  I resolve not to resolve in January, and it is just about the only thing you will find me promising anybody as the previous year draws to a close.

But this time last year I did make a series of evaluations of my publishing career to date.  I vowed not to make my own covers, to make sure I edit properly, and listen to the advice of others who are in a better position to give it.  Sounds like I was giving myself some good advice, and I did take it.  But it comes as somewhat of a surprise to me that it was only last year that I was learning these things.  It seems to me as I sit here today that I have been publishing forever, and when I look back on the old Michelle who used to type up stories at night after her on call shifts in the hospital had finished, it seems unbelievable that I didn't know these things.  Was there really ever a time that I wasn't writing my books? Did I ever think that becoming published would be impossible?  Did I really think that the first cover I knocked together for The Loss of Deference was good enough, and was it really only a year and one cover ago that I decided that I would never again make my own?

I cannot believe that it was only a year ago, because it seems so much has changed regarding my books in the twelve months gone past.  A year it seems, is a long time, and changes happen slowly throughout it.  But in other instances the changes come as fast as lightening.  I married my wonderful husband this summer, but only three months before that I was in ITU and my differential diagnosis was bleed/tumour/viral encephalitis/stroke.  You can plan all you like, but you can never predict something like that, and sometimes you just have to get your act together and do your best in whatever situation you find yourself in.

My initial plan was that I would have three books published this year, but instead I only published one.  I wrote the first draft of two others, but nothing is ready for publication yet.  But only yesterday I totalled up my expected royalties for the last couple of months and know that I am expecting a cheque from Amazon anytime soon.  Last year I was happy to have sold a few books a month, and this year I am happy with a few hundred.  Happy changes, totally unplanned.  I didn't sit down and say by next Christmas I will be selling three hundred books in a month, but it happened.  But equally I bet that there was somebody else selling three hundred books this time last year who is now selling more than three thousand and when they look back they too cannot quite believe it. 

So this year I am not making any predictions or planning any of the details.  Whatever happens, happens.  I resolve only to keep working hard.  But I do believe that I can learn from the year behind me.  I can learn that we are not able to make things happen, or prevent them.  Instead we can just enjoy the ride.  Whatever that ride might be.

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