This year, my Christmas holidays were one of reflection and surprise. I was surprised at how happy I was this holiday. Not because I was with family because it was exactly the opposite of what I thought I’d be in my life.
This has happened often this year.
Talking about this year, I’m going to write down 2015 as probably one of the better years. Not because this year has been stellar in the winning the lottery department. This year has been stellar in one very important area, life lessons.
This thought came to me after reading some old emails. Near year means cleaning out some old files. That’s when I saw them. The emails that reminded me of all the pain and hurt from six months ago. So I instantly wrote down the top lessons I learned from that experience and others this year.
Here’s the seven that I wrote down. I hope as 2016 comes in, they help you with your writing life.
Celebrate the small victories
I’m from a generation where you didn’t celebrate things until you did something really big like find the cure to cancer.
While I haven’t done anything THAT big yet, I do believe in giving yourself credit when you’ve done something good or completed something difficult. Whether that’s with retail therapy, a Netflix binge, or a good meal with friends, taking the time to celebrate the small moments sets you up for the bigger moments.
For writers, this means having a glass of wine when you finish a chapter. Treating yourself to a good meal when that poem FINALLY comes together. When you beat that deadline, get yourself those new shoes. Whatever and however you celebrate. There are lots of people who will remind you how awful you are, these moments prove them wrong.
Always protect hope
I haven’t hidden the fact that it was touch and go there for a bit. I know now that what nearly lead me to make that decision was a lack of hope. I had no hope that things would get better. And while I had help eliminating hope from my life, don’t ever lose it. The thought of things getting better despite things going wrong is enough to move mountains.
Put yourself out there, even if you’re not ready
This one is one of the biggest lessons for my writing career. I’d been writing in a bubble for awhile, even after grad school. I didn’t want anyone to read or know my work until I was finished and it was clean. And while I still believe that pieces should not be workshopped until you feel good about it and some major decisions have already been made, it should not hinder you from doing sending out your work or having people read it.
I submitted my essay for the Owl of Minerva Award right under the wire because I thought it wasn’t good enough. My VONA application was turned in two minutes before deadline in the back of a MegaBus and I still wasn’t happy with it. Both times I was rewarded. This made me think that it was time for my writing to be read by more people.
Yes, this post will reach 3,000 people (btw did I mention that more than 3K people read this blog. Wow! Thank you!). Yes, I have published articles and such before. However, I am a fiction writer who writes books like some people write grocery lists. People should see my work, even if I don’t think I’m ready.
Find your tribe
In 2015 I found my tribe and they are amazing. VONA and the Afro-Latinas from the writer’s retreat are just what I need. I pitch them ideas and they read my stuff and give me feedback. And when I’m down, they lift me up. My tribe is my heartbeat.
Accept it, some people are just plain evil.
From Aug. 2014 – July 2015 I lived in absolute fear. I didn’t have to, but I thought I did because I thought I was doing something wrong. I blamed myself for being afraid. After all, if you have something to fear you’re doing something wrong. For the past six months, I have learned that there was very little that was wrong with me and whole lot that was wrong with the situation I was in. I know now that this was a form of mental abuse called gaslighting.
And as hard as it is to admit it, there are just some people in this world who are just plain evil. They aren’t nice no matter how nice you are to them. They will take advantage and they won’t care how it impacts you.
Once you understand that, truly understand and accept it right down into your bone marrow, decisions will be made easier. You’ll know what to do in all situations. And no one will be able to tell you different.
Courage means listening to your gut instead of your head
There is more courage in saying that it’s not working than there is in staying and trying to make it work. There will be times that logic needs to be thrown out of the window.
Don’t be afraid to do something stupid if it means keeping your sanity. It all falls into place when it should.
Lessons come from unexpected places
I have learned from my students, podcasts, my madre’s refranes, my sister, and from soap operas. Lessons are everywhere and in the most unexpected places. All you have to do is be open to it.
Have an amazing new year!