Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Year in Review

In celebration of the New Year (and in preparation for tax season), I allowed my inner-accountant to temporarily take over my writing career. For those of you who might not know, I play with numbers for fun and profit (mostly profit) and have worked in the accounting field for a number of years. After a few hours of merging my KDP and Create Space statements into a master spreadsheet, inputting expenses, and otherwise having a blast with Excel, it was determined that 2013 was not a profitable year. At least not financially. My expenses (websites, promotional materials, book covers, etc) exceeded my profits. By some standards, my financial loss was negligible. By my own standards, it really wasn’t much of a loss. In fact, I feel like my personal gains far exceeded any financial loss.

Money isn’t everything. Don’t get me wrong–I’d like to make enough money to show a profit a year from now when I compile my 2014 spreadsheet. Hell, I’d like to make enough money so that I don’t have to go back to work in the accounting field. But, you know what? Regardless of what my 2013 spreadsheet says, I’m declaring the year a huge success.

Here’s what I’ve lost and gained during the year 2013. For me (like most writers), my writing life is intertwined with my personal life. It’s impossible to separate the two, so the following list will be a mish-mash of everything–personal, financial, spiritual… you name it.

  1. I lost my blinders. Yep. The blinders fell off. I learned a lot about the publishing industry. When they say writing is a business, it’s true. Some of my business decisions haven’t been good. If you’d asked me at the beginning of 2013 if I would have made different decisions, I would have fallen down and wept over all the mistakes I’ve made. Would I change things if I could? Maybe. Maybe not. At least I’m smarter now. Without the blinders, I’m seeing things a bit more clearly, and that’s not a bad thing. Not at all.
  2. I gained experience. The problem with looking at a spreadsheet is that it’s all about numbers. Writing is about letters. Words. Sentences. How can I define my writing career using nothing but numbers? I can’t. I might have lost a few bucks this year, but I gained experience. I learned about formatting, editing, website design, and HTML code. I read articles about social media and marketing. I learned about the art of writing. I practiced my craft. I learned how to maximize my efforts going forward. I learned what to do–and what NOT to do. The experience I gained is invaluable.
  3. I lost hope, but got it back. I’ve always suffered from clinical depression. My last bout of depression began in 2011. Yes, that’s right. I was depressed from mid-2011 and that debilitating depression continued until almost the end of 2013. Some of it lingers. Social anxiety, panic attacks, self-pity, mind-numbing apathy–it was really, really bad. I continuously reached new lows until August. Through daily affirmations and constant prayer, I clawed my way back to hope. It’s nice to be back.
  4. I lost my job. Well, I didn’t lose it. I quit. Because we moved. (See number five). It was a really great job, though, working in the accounting department for a non-profit organization.
  5. I moved to a different state. At the end of October, my family moved from Missouri to New Hampshire. Moving is always stressful. For me, it was an opportunity to focus on something other than the same crap I’d been worrying about for months. The move to New Hampshire set my life on a new trajectory. Thank God.
  6. I gained and lost twenty-five pounds. At the beginning of the year, I rang in the New Year by eating until I was sick. The treats didn’t fill the empty hole inside me, so I kept eating. All year long. I knew I needed to lose weight. I even started and stopped a couple of diets. The weight kept piling on until the end of October. Then, we moved. The twenty-five pounds I gained during the first ten months of the year fell off over the holidays. Go figure. This New Year sure is different than the last. I’m not bloated and miserable from overindulging. In fact, I made a huge pot of vegetable soup and rang in the New Year with cabbage, green beans, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, celery, carrots, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. I have more weight to lose (hell, I still haven’t lost my baby weight from my oldest son who is now twenty-three), but I know I’ll get there. See, I told you loss isn’t always a bad thing.
  7. I gained momentum. I published two books early in 2013, but didn’t do a whole lot of writing. The books I published were written in 2011 and 2012. Oh, I had lots of excuses for not writing–I was tired, I was disillusioned, I had writers block. When we moved to New Hampshire, I forget to pack my excuses. We were barely settled before I started writing again. I finished one of my (many) works-in-progress. I think I’ve got my groove back. Now that I’ve gained some momentum with my writing, 2014 is going to be a great, productive year.
  8. I lost the big sign on my forehead that said “sucker.” It’s good to help people. I hate saying no. In fact, I spent most of 2013 saying “yes” even when I didn’t want to. I pushed my own needs to the side and then felt overwhelmed and resentful when I didn’t have time for myself. Sure, some people are rude. Some people take advantage. But most people don’t realize you’re stressed or overwhelmed unless you tell them. I learned to set limits, but it took all year to do so. In 2014, my online life will be a little more streamlined, my schedule will be a little less cluttered, my time will be more balanced. When I make commitments, it will be because I want to, not because I can’t say no.
  9. I gained friendships. I’ve met the coolest people since I began writing back in 2011. In 2013, I made new friends and strengthened existing friendships. I wouldn’t trade my online writer friends for all the money in the world.

Some things can be compiled on a spreadsheet, but the important things in life cannot. What did you gain or lose in 2013?

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