Okay, so the title is a bit misleading. I don’t have a whole lot of new goals for 2018. Mainly, I’m going to keep doing most of the same things I’ve been doing: reading, writing, editing. Lather, rinse, repeat.
On the reading front, I’m no longer accepting general review requests via this blog. A few people are on my auto-buy list or have spoken to me personally, and they can count on me for reviews. But I simply can’t do it anymore. I’ve explained it elsewhere, so you can read that if you like.
I will still be reading, though! I have a Kindle full of great stuff I need to get to. The kids and I are going to read The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, together. It’s one we all chose, and I’m excited to have something to talk about with them. I’m also going to finish the books I started in November and haven’t been able to find time to complete. In short, I’ll still be reviewing things, but on my terms.
I have two definite novels planned for this year. One is the last part (for now) of my Notes from Boston series. I just emailed book 3 to my publisher, and I’m well on my way with book 4. The second for-sure project is a novel that goes back to where I originally wanted to be: writing more literary fiction rather than more romantic fiction. It’s a sequel-ish to An Act of Devotion, but…not really.
Ambitiously, I also have a third possible project. I’m going through old stuff, including NaNoWriMo novels I either never finished or never polished. I have three old ones that need huge revisions, so I picked one to start with. If you’re on Facebook and want to track my progress on all those projects, you can join my group, Dreaming Reasonably (title courtesy of Child #2).
On the editing front, I have a few regular clients, but I’d like to add more. I’m contemplating strategies for how to market my skills. It was a huge compliment to see that several things I’ve worked on got praise for the editing. Normally, we behind-the-scenes folks don’t get a lot of credit for our work, so that was pretty cool!
A major change in my professional life is that besides not accepting reviews, I also won’t be giving favors that fall within the realm of what I get paid for unless there’s a return offer. This has burned me (and burned me out) in the past.
When I began writing professionally, I tried to follow the advice for how to get my name out there. One piece of advice (and how I ended up as a book reviewer) was to review others’ books. Another one was to offer beta reading. This has both worked out well and also…not so much.
On the one hand, I’ve made some really cool friends. Those relationships are mutual, and we’ve got each other’s backs when it comes to beta reading and reviewing. On the other hand, there are two downsides to this: We’re all authors, which creates a bubble rather than gaining new readers, and some authors have taken advantage of my generosity.
I posted on social media yesterday that my goal is to remove that kind of toxicity from my life, where I’m the only one offering help, support, and my professional skills. My excellent cousin reminded me of this quote:
People who like you will act like they like you.
It’s from a Captain Awkward blog post which is mainly about the problem of “the friend zone,” but it applies to all sorts of relationships. In my case, it’s easy to see which people only want a “friendship” with me because they believe I will boost their careers (while they do nothing for mine). I’m not going to actively participate in that.
I don’t separate my professional social media from my personal accounts. What you see is what you get. I talk about my kids, my spouse, my pets, weird things that happen to me, my hobbies, my politics, and yes, my work. I don’t believe those are mutually exclusive things. I write queer books which tend to include elements of the rest of my life, and I’m not going to apologize for the blending of those things.
If I agree to a relationship on social media, it’s for one of the following reasons: We know each other offline and want to stay in touch; we met online and had a spark; or we can mutually benefit each other professionally. If one of those isn’t happening, then it’s time for us both to cut our losses.
I’m an introvert with social anxiety, so I’m not great at offline follow-up. But I do try to stay connected online, and I’m always happy to have my more extroverted friends reach out. Where this gets sticky for me is that I really want to be liked. Not in a professional sense, in a personal one. It’s led me to some really unhealthy behaviors, including feeling obligated to complete strangers out of fear that they’ll backstab, gossip, or otherwise attempt to “destroy” me professionally.
I will no longer tolerate people whose sole purpose in speaking to me is what they think they can get out of it. Constant requests for me to boost your work, with absolutely no reciprocity and no other interaction, is toxic. I learned that the hard way by having to cut off “friends” in particular on Facebook who had long lists of rules for how and when and what I was to post. If I want nothing but your work-related stuff, I’ll follow your Facebook page or other social media not based on mutual exchange.
So here’s to change in the upcoming year, and hopefully a lot less drama.