While there may still be one week left in 2022, this will be my final post for the year.
To briefly recap my previous post, I will be taking a Holiday Hiatus for the next couple of weeks.
With this being my last post for the year, it's time to wrap up 2022 and talk about how things went.
I'll just cut to the chase: I did not write as much as I had planned. I stayed on schedule with blog posts, and was actually well ahead of the game for the most part, but that was the majority of my writing for the year. I went months without working on my fiction projects simply because life found a way to get in the way as it so often does.
The worst offender was a pinched nerve in my back towards the end of June—and much to my shock, was a moment of pause and reflection I desperately needed at the time. The injury rendered me basically immobile for two weeks, to the point I was only leaving the house to go to the chiropractor. I was unable to go to the day job, so I finally had time to write, but the pain meds I was on made me super groggy and unable to concentrate on anything when I was awake.
I'm not aiming to make excuses out of this incident, but it's important for context because it was this time away from the day job that set the rest of the year in motion.
My first day back at the day job, something felt off. In truth, I had taken off the rose-colored glasses and began to recognize issues I had ignored up until that point. My typical answer of, "Hey, it's retail. What can you do?" was no longer cutting it. This was beyond the standard upset customers and products being out of stock. Something wasn't right.
At the end of October, I left.
I won't go into detail about any specific events that prompted my decision. It was the culmination of several instances and not caused by any single thing or person, and it was far from easy to do because up until then, things had been okay. Flawed, but not terrible.
But it eventually grew to be borderline toxic, to the point it was affecting my life outside of the job. Restful sleep became unknown to me because I would have stress dreams taking place at the store almost every night. It felt like my coworkers and I were always at each other's throats because of circumstances beyond our control. I couldn't shake that feeling of having to constantly look over my shoulder or that no matter what I did, it was never enough.
I was a burnt-out mess. And it was spilling into other areas of my life—including writing. The time I could devote to writing became drastically limited, and when I could finally sit down with any of my projects, I couldn't focus.
I was drained, creatively and otherwise.
I was talking with one of the guys after I had submitted my two weeks' notice, and he had asked not what I was going to do once I left or where I was going to be working like so many others had, but was instead curious about what I wanted to be doing.
My answer? Writing. Seeing my work published. Finding my definition of success as an author.
I had lost sight of the goal that had been vital to my very existence since I was a teenager. Writing has always been my safe space to work through emotions. It was my solace after my father's unexpected passing during my first semester of college and pushed me to eventually earn my degree in spite of all the losses in those years. It's a second chance. The ability to revisit the past and reexamine situations. Redemption for your mistakes as a result of stronger understandings.
Writing is who I am.
Giving up that part of myself in the hustle of a day job made me realize it was unhealthy for me to stick it out as much as I wanted to. How much more of myself would I have sacrificed?
I was relinquishing a big part of myself and didn't like the kind of person the job was turning me into in exchange. Snapping at loved ones. Venting in what should have been casual conversation. Frustrated with myself being frustrated with myself and the situation.
So in the midst of an ongoing mass exodus that was one contributing factor to the difficulties we were facing every shift, I, too, pulled the plug.
Although it was something of a rash decision, I know it was the best decision for me.
Trusting my gut has gotten me to where I am. That's how I chose the college I attended, and what led me to pursue a writing degree even though so many considered it "useless" or a "waste of money."
Things just have a habit of working themselves out somehow. All we can do it place our trust in that knowledge.
And that's how writing is. You can go into a new WIP with an outline that chronicles every move your character makes, but things shift along the way—often for the better. When problems arise, the fix may not be easy, but manageable.
I may not be writing full-time yet, and I expect it will be a few years before I am able to do that. But for the first time in a while, I feel like I'm back on the path that will get me there.
Also, I recently accepted a position at a job I'm beyond excited about. The hours will be more consistent, meaning I can get myself on a better writing schedule. And from what I've seen so far, there is an emphasis on growth within the team and as an individual.
It feels right.
2022 did not go as I hoped. I'm still not anywhere near ready to query, and I doubt I will be by this time in 2023.
But I am truly hopeful that, going forward, I'll be able to regain the sense of self I've always found in storytelling.
2023 is going to be a year of growth, healing, discovery, and, at last, writing.
And I'll meet you all when this journey starts in January.
Happy New Year, readers! Cheers to 2023!