Another year has drawn to a close. How was yours? Did you get the things finished that you were hoping to? Did you set up your next year in a way that inspires you? Did you get nothing done and are begrudging the 365 days that seemed to pass you by faster than the last 365? The dawn of another year can be as inspiring as it is daunting.
My year has been wild in a lot of ways. For the better part of the year, I embarked on a journey of living as an expat, something I’d been working towards for years. There were stresses, lists that never seemed to end, hurdles that sprung up out of nowhere. I would encourage anyone and everyone who wanted to live abroad to absolutely do so, but I would also warn them about the amount of work it takes beforehand, during, and after. It is an amazing experience being part of another culture and there are joys about my time abroad that I will hold onto forever, but being a realist is also very important, and I will never quite forget the anxiety of having to return again and again to the immigration office or the stress of having to quarantine in a foreign country. Despite those difficulties, however, it was an experience I would embark upon again tomorrow if I could.
Inevitably, the trip taught me a lot. I learned another language, a different set of cultural rules, and I learned details about a part of the world I wouldn’t have been able to without having lived there. I learned all about perseverance, I learned resilience, I learned how capable I was and was able to push myself further than I thought I was able to go. I learned more about who I am, what traits are innate within me and which ones could be moulded into something new. I think every year has the ability to teach you about yourself, there are things to learn every time a new set of fifty-two weeks passes, but embarking on that kind of journey offers all sorts of lessons, some harsh and some brilliant.
One of the biggest things that it taught me was just how much I coveted a career in writing. I mentioned a couple of times that I didn’t write all that much whilst I was living abroad, there simply wasn’t enough time in the day if I’m honest. And so I missed writing, I missed typing and scribbling away, I missed dedicating afternoons to world-building. I loved being busy and making friends and creating memories that will last forever, but I am also a creative person, and not being as creative as usual was hard, I couldn’t deny that if I tried.
When I returned home, I was lost at times because returning after that kind of experience is always disorienting. At other times, I was more invigorated than ever to start working and jump back into writing. As 2022 drew to a close, I dedicated every spare second I had to creating again, and it was as wonderful as it was exhausting. My brain has been more than a little fried. I absolutely tried to take time to readjust back into the world, but I also leapt where I should have walked. Having been apart from creating for the better part of the year, I almost couldn’t stop myself from writing at a pretty frantic pace. Whilst it is fantastic to see things coming alive on the page again, I know that healthy balances are what I should be aspiring to. I go into 2023 excited but also well aware I need to pace myself.
That being said, in this time where I have returned and settled once more, I’ve been working on manuscripts, working towards realising these deadlines I’ve set myself, getting things finished. I’ve been researching into what it’s like to head towards traditional publishing, the steps I need to take to embark on that journey. It’s still going to take some time, but I was inspired by my time away and I wanted to use that inspiration for good. Maybe I do need to give myself more rest, but I am also keen to start moving along again. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, life is about balances, and I’m still working a lot of those out.
Last year, I made the decision to start doing one post a month instead of two because I was spending the majority of 2022 abroad and I knew I wouldn’t quite be able to find the time to get a post done every fifteen or so days. Although my foreseeable 2023 will be spent at home from the comfort of my hometown, I think I’m going to stick with one post a month. Ideally, I should have more time than I did last year, but I’m also working hard on these projects, and any time I have that I didn’t have last year, I’m keen to spend it on refining my manuscripts. I still want to keep up with blogging, but you have to be realistic when you’re a writer, and being realistic about the time needed to write a novel is important. As much as many of us would wish we could whip up a finalised novel in a week, that isn’t the case, and it won’t ever be. These things are called labours of love for a reason.
So, what will my 2023 look like? I’ll still be blogging, exploring this way of writing that’s more personal, more spontaneous, and a little less refined in a way that’s freeing. I’ll also still be working on my manuscripts, and I think the time has come for me to actively attempt to be published. It’s not going to happen in January, March, maybe not even August, but I have set dates I want to get things done by and these dates are approaching. I will be working, time might actually be more limited in that way than it was in 2022, but there will always be time somewhere, I’ll carve it out of my day somehow. As artists who do not create full-time, our lives are all about finding time in the in between, right?
I still can’t be sure I believe in the concept of New Year’s resolutions, they do seem to, so often, set people up for failure by placing such a weight on a singular date. I do, however, believe in the idea of setting goals, and, most importantly reachable goals. Sure, you can tell yourself you’ll be a neurosurgeon by the end of the year if you want, but unless you’re already on that path, I’d set your sights on something you can actually achieve. They should absolutely still be goals, but ones you can envision, not ones plucked from thin air. You want your goals to be things that make you reach for something, not ones that will make you miserable when you inevitably fail. And, most importantly, know that failure happens to everyone. If you’re trying to quit smoking and you lapse, it’s not the end of the world. It’s what you do with failure that matters, and there’s no harm in trying again. Starting over can be hard, but it’s never impossible.
In 2023, I know what I’m aiming for, and I hope you do too.
Have a Happy New Year. I hope it’s a good one.