CW: Depression, anxiety, chronic pain/disability
I don’t do New Year’s resolutions.
It’s not because I’m against them. Hey, if they work for you, more power to ya. To me, they always feel like promises I won’t ever keep. They seem too big in the face of all the possible things that might make everything go sideways. There’s also usually an expectation that they’ll be body-related in some way: lose weight, eat “healthier,” exercise more, and so on. Those aren’t bad, but at least for me (and I suspect for many others) they end up making me feel like a worse person, not a better one. They’re on my list of “things which will inevitably trigger my anxiety.”
There are certainly other options, and I don’t doubt for some people, a New Year’s resolution is just the needed push to get going into a better and more productive year. I could commit to writing 1000 words a day or publishing 3 novels (oh, wait…I’m actually accomplishing that one) or submitting 6 short stories for anthologies or some other work-related promise.
I don’t want to do that, though. It doesn’t allow me to prioritize based on what’s right in front of me at the time, nor does it give me the flexibility to change direction if the plans are derailed or a big opportunity comes along. I lost a lot of ground planning too far ahead last summer, only to have my spouse develop pneumonia and spend a month less functional than I am on a bad pain/fatigue day. (This is not to berate him—it’s on me that I tried to do too many things which relied on everyone being perfectly healthy.)
So instead of resolutions, I have goals:
I’m participating in a book challenge, and I’m not pressuring myself to read every single thing on the list. The purpose isn’t to make me cry on Dec. 31, 2016 when I have 24 hours to read 10 books I didn’t get to. It’s to expand the kinds of things I’m reading (because let’s be honest, I’m a wee bit burned out on mostly reading various versions of m/m romance).
I’m re-evaluating what I write and why. This isn’t to say I’m going to stop writing lgbtqia lit. Not at all! But yesterday, a friend shared some profound wisdom with me: The best love stories start in the middle, after the happily ever after. That blew my mind. I struggle to write about new love/falling in love, and it never occurred to me that I don’t have to. Not only that, a love story isn’t always about romance; sometimes, it’s a different kind of love. What a freeing idea and a wonderful reason to emulate some of my favorite authors of mainstream lit only with a queer flair.
I’m going to be much more honest about my real self. Years ago, a dear friend wrote me a letter in which she encouraged me to “keep open house with my heart.” I don’t think I knew then what it meant. This week, two posts showed up on my Facebook feed which hit close to my own experiences. First, this one on concealed anxiety and then this one on helping someone with depression. I spend a lot of my time managing my anxiety, most of which is social-related (but also takes other forms). And while I haven’t been depressed since before I had children (I really do think the changes in hormones had an effect), there’s a lot of overlap with my current chronic pain and fatigue—which is why I went undiagnosed for some time. In fact, I get a lot of the same reactions (not “looking sick,” wondering why I can’t just muscle through the brain fog that leaves me confused and forgetful). Add in the way anxiety makes me think if I talk about it, I’m burdening everyone else (or that I’ll get more unsolicited advice for “fixing” it, which is actually really triggering)…well, it’s a recipe for more anxiety and therefore more brain fog because they feed off each other. But two dear friends, women I respect so much for their courage and honesty, have reminded me it is more than okay to acknowledge these struggles.
So that’s my upcoming year. How about you? Do you have resolutions or goals? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
In case you missed it, there’s still one more day to enter the giveaway for an e-book of your choice from my backlist (excluding multi-author anthologies). You can check out my Amazon page to see what’s in there.