2016, damn you, right? I thought throughout the month of December how I wanted to close out this year with a blog post. It’s hard to rally the troops when a year has hit so many people so hard, so i’m going to try my best to make this short and sweet, although that’s never been my forte. I’ll try to break this down and end on a high note, try being the operative word.
Let’s start with some quick reflection.
This year was the first year without my grandmother in my life. Even typing that was difficult. I’ve never had someone so important to me pass away until her. To call what she left behind “a void” is nowhere near what the damage felt like. More like a vacuous black hole of uncertainty. I lost my balance. I lost the grip I had on myself that I thought I so securely had. Control is facade. You’re never actually in control. A strange lesson to learn from the situation, I think.
And that’s how I felt like I had started 2016.
I was in a funk I wasn’t prepared for and didn’t understand until now in hindsight. I found writing insanely difficult at the beginning. Seriously, and it had me panicking. I tried my old routines, drank my favorite coffee beverages at my favorite places with my laptop open, ritualistically bought books each month thinking I’d get back to reading, and even climbed to the top of mountains each weekend for a moment of clarity that didn’t come for a long, long time. All in the hopes I could get the old me back. Spoiler alert: the old me is officially gone, but now I can comfortably say, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I was forced to switch it up. Find NEW routines, NEW things to love and live for. I had to reacclimatize myself to a new version of me. What a weird thing to realize.
Good news is, I found a groove, and it came in the form of a break I think I needed. I had somehow lost my self along the way before and it was time to reconnect. I tried putting writing first, but I started to realize that words weren’t going to break me out of it even though all I wanted to do was to write. I found a balance with fun and writing. I needed the social dynamics I had denied myself the years previously when I was so focused on shelling out books. I now needed human interaction and human experiences, and ya know what? I had a lot of fricken fun in 2016. Part of my brain thinks too much fun, but as I gear up for 2017 while I write this from my favorite coffee shop in an awesome writing mode I haven’t felt in forever, I know now that it was all the right thing for me. I like what 2016 has turned me into. It taught me I really do NEED an even amount of friends/fun/travel and writing, and that’s okay! I just need to work hard at it. I’m ready to kick 2017’s ass with some kickass writing projects, but also spend some epic times with friends.
Things I’m proud of:
I published Entangled this year with Penguin Intermix! Always a fantastic experience watching your darling idea of a book become something grander than you are. This will most likely be the last book in the Tryst series, and I’m so thankful and proud of this series being traditionally published. It’s been a cool two-book journey and I hope I can work with my editor, Kristine Swartz, and Penguin Intermix again. Traditional publishing has been quite an experience and taught me so much. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Regardless, all necessary lessons and I’m insanely proud of what this series has become.
Also, something incredible happened in December, too. I got a new job right in time for the new year! I was pretty happy in my current job as an Executive Assistant. My work friends are like family and I had an awesome boss who mentored me and allowed me to have a flexible schedule to accommodate my writing endeavors. I didn’t have a reason to leave, but then something happened. A Content Writer job was suddenly posted within my company’s marketing department, a job that I had never seen posted. Seeing it appear gave me an ah-ha moment. I always wanted a career in writing, but when I was young and sprite (okay, around twenty-three, cuz now I’m twenty-eight) and without a college degree, I knew I wasn’t ready to apply for jobs with writer in the title. I was too green even if I did want it super bad. Instead, without intention, I turned my focus on my passion of writing novels and dedicated countless hours since then to writing. Not to mention, developing an audience, a social media platform, and learning so much about marketing and honing my skills along the way. So, when I saw that Content Writer job posted come November 2016, it inspired me. It reminded me that I wanted it and this time I felt finally ready for a new chapter in my life after earning all this writerly experience, but I was nervous while still being hopeful. To make a long story short, I got the job, and it was my resume as an author that got me there. It felt like such a win. It felt like I had beat the odds. We all have our stories as to why or why not we do things, and my career path, although riddled with hurdles, has always been fought hard. I’ve always tried being realistic but driven, unsure where I’d end up, but always knowing I’d never settle for less than the best. So, to throw caution to the wind and take charge of my destiny, realizing my worth and taking the time to appreciate the hard work I’ve done in those years from twenty-three until now, I feel like I’ve especially earned this victory. I’ve never been so excited for a challenge. I’ve never done anything like this before, but I know I can do it. I’ve always known I could do it, it’s just cool to get to this point and think “yes, I got this …”
Now take my advice: you can do it too. I promise.
Where I’ve Gone
I did so much this year, and I won’t get into too much detail (cuz I could go on and on) but I had so much fun with my most favorite people. From LA Bookfest and RT Booklovers convention in Las Vegas with Alys Arden, to road trips to the Sequoias, swimming in rivers and beach days with my best friends, to hopping on planes to Miami for a friends 30th birthday and experiencing Art Basel and a spa day at Fountain Bleau, I’m just filled to the brim with absolutely fantastic experiences. I don’t feel like I wasted my 2016 in this regard. I had so much fun, and I feel better because of it. Like, my soul actually feels enriched.
P.S. I did drive to the Sequoias THREE times this year and it was AH-MAZING. (I love trees). I just really like this stat.
P.S.S. I also went to Vegas I think about 4-5 times. Like WHOA, but so much debauchery and so much hilarious fun. #NoRegrets.
In conclusion, here’s a video my friend made of our Miami trip and I think it captures that trip and it’s epic-ness pretty well 🙂
Music and the in between (books, duh)
I definitely did not read as much as I wanted to this year, but I’m gonna change that in 2017 because I’m an honest believer that as a writer in order to become better at your art you have to engage and experience your type of art; reading, duh.
I read an even number of fiction and nonfiction, too, which is weird for me. But it’s been awesome. I read books on Modern Romance (which helped me dissect my romantic life see section below), and also a book that totally changed the way I approach my writing process (called: Save the Cat). I also read books that reflected what kind of writer I want to be and love stories that got me to laugh, smile and feel good–my only mode to reading romance novels cuz I hate sad endings and crying.
This year also had an epic playlist and Spotify did a great job capturing the varying music phases I went through throughout the year. Every situation calls for a different mode, so this playlist is a great mixture of my low key writing nights but also partying with my friends or road trip vibes. Have a listen to what made my list:
Romance? Yeah, in life. Weird.
This has also been the year of dating, and holy shit what a year of peaks and declines. I didn’t find a boyfriend this year but I did meet a ton of interesting people (i went on a date with an underwater archeologist! Who woulda thunkit?) even if most of them didn’t work out more than 2-3 dates–which I’m totally okay with by the way. haha. I can openly admit that I did not find my soul mate this year, but I have appreciated the journey. Although the declines to the year sometimes felt heavy on my heart (nobody likes rejection) and this dating journey almost started to jade me when it came to real life romance, and as a romance writer that had me a bit panicky. No lie. But it also taught me what I’m looking for and what I’m absolutely not looking for. Hard pass on: musicians, dudes with road rage, and people who talk bad about their mother, k thanks. But hello and thank you to: cute morning text messages, pokemon go dates, the midnight chase, late night walks on the beach and kisses on the way to the airport. (I will some day write a book just on my Tinder experiences, I swear).
I got my heart broken a bit, but I also hurt some boys hearts along the way too, but hey, that’s dating. Or so I’m told.
At least I’m trying, right? I won’t surrender to that spinster and owner of ten cats life just yet …
Let’s acknowledge the world, but we can pledge to be better.
I don’t mean to end this post on a sad note, but I think it would be unfair not to acknowledge the weirdness and awful that 2016 has given the world and how my heart breaks for it. I also don’t want to become overly political, but let’s just say I’m really disappointed in the human race, and possibly with America. I’m scared for our future, but I won’t dwell on the reasons why (*cough* Terrorist Attacks, shootings, Aleppo, woman’s rights, Trump, etc *gag*), but I do think that if anything should be part of our new years resolutions is that we should try to be BETTER; more COMPASSIONATE, more UNDERSTANDING, more LOVING, more FEARLESS. It’s time people. I feel like as honest, kind humans (some of us), we’ve been lazy with the world. Somehow we’ve allowed so many terrible things to happen. We can still be heroes even within small victories. It can be as small as standing up to a racist rant you witness in a grocery story, or stopping the sexual harassment against a woman in the workplace. Or it can be as grand as walking in the march for Woman at the inauguration of the most unqualified, misogynist, racist man who treats the presidency like a networking advantage rather than leader of the free world, or how about never normalizing hate even in the slightest of ways.
We also lost a lot of beautiful souls this year (heaven must sounds pretty awesome right now). It’s been rough, but let’s try not to blame the year for the circle of life even though it all feels terribly unfair. I consider myself a pretty hilarious person, but I’m not a fan of putting blame on anything even for comedic effect. So, let’s not just blame 2016 for all it’s shitty-ness. Let’s just pledge to be better and love more.
Sound good? Thought so. Now let’s slaaayyyy 2017.