What I wish I could have told myself when I was hopeless about my writing prospects is that I should have defined artistic success in ways that weren’t shaped by forces beyond my control.” – Roxane Gay
I highly recommend reading the entire article, linked above, from which I got this quote. As I’ve been watching friends and colleagues post their year-end reflections for 2017, a year which is almost universally agreed to be a tough one, I started multiple posts that I abandoned because it seemed to much like subtweeting. How does one talk about the importance of new relationships and opportunities, without also talking about the relinquishing of old paradigms and relationships that would have made the new ones impossible? In this year where women everywhere discovered that you know what, staying quiet and playing by the rules doesn’t actually protect them from getting screwed over by the system?
Or I could just keep it simple. Give you some numbers, as I have in past years.
January: New York (Digital Book World)
March: Virginia (MarsCon)
May: Virginia (Seven Sentences)
June: Texas (Marianne!)
July: Florida (RWA)
August: South Carolina (Eclipse), Virginia (Farmhouse), and Georgia (DragonCon)
October: Florida (NINC)
December: California (Princess Awesome)
Trilogies Completed: 1 (pre-order Omega City: Infinity Base now!)
Parts of Other Novels: 3
New Ideas: Dozens (Thanks, Storystorm!)
Short Stories: 27
Words, Total: >202,000
State List Placement: 1 (Yay, Omega City hit the Sunshine State Reading List!)
Conferences/Seminars Attended: 6 (see above)
Conferences Planned: 1 (NINC)
Books Released: 2
Amazon Rapids Released: 20
Books Pitched: 3
Stories Pitched: nearly 3 dozen
Articles Sold: 2
School Visits: 2
There are stories in those numbers. Stories about exploring what works for me and what doesn’t. About trying to analyze why certain things are working, and learning to play to those strengths. About taking big chances, many of which have not yet had the opportunity to pay off. About finding a lot of joy in fields that I never would have suspected would bring me such creative fulfillment. About figuring out who is actually on my team and trusting their advice.
I’m not gonna spend the rest of my life working my ass off and getting nowhere just because I followed rules that I had nothing to do with setting up. – Working Girl
There have been a lot of long conversations about work with friends this year. Many in which I was crying. Many more in which I was making plans. I am so grateful to them, to Mari Mancusi, Kyla Linde, Carrie Ryan, Julie Leto, Lavinia Kent, Lynne Silver, Pintip Dunn, Leah Cypess, Brigid Kemmerer, Sarah Brand, Julie Ortolon, Erica Ridley, Simone Elkeles, Adam Silvera, Heidi Tretheway, Justine Larbalestier, Stephanie Pajonas, Melanie Cellier, Elizabeth Ann West, Janine Spendlove, Kerri Buckley, Kevin Tumlinson, Jon Skovron, Eva St. Clair, and of course, Dan. I have the best friends.
And it goes back to that Roxane Gay quote, about how I should be measuring my accomplishments. Look at that list of fabulous people who I am honored to call friends and colleagues. I’m sure I’m even forgetting a few people who have been super helpful to me this year, and I didn’t even mention the people I love I didn’t get a chance to hang out with this year. Nor the fact that I can honestly say I brainstormed with my daughter this year, and even sold stories she helped me develop.
Which brings me to… Amazon Rapids. The Diana who made her writing plans last January was not aware of this app or this opportunity, but it has had an enormous impact on my writing and my creative life this year. Additionally, my daughter is obsessed with them.
I do believe that the smartest choice I ever made for my writing career was joining NINC (hence three years of devotion to heavy-duty volunteering for them on the board and conference committee), because they have encouraged me to break free of a lot of publishing orthodoxy, and to question whether something is right just because it’s the way it has been done. Every year at the conference, I meet people making livings from styles of writing that I never would have heard of otherwise, and this year was no different.
2017 was very difficult, professionally. It was also very revelatory and transformative, when viewed through the lens of forces within my control. I took a lot of big, big risks. I’m so excited about my plans for next year.