By Fae Rowen
I’m pretty certain 2020 didn’t turn out like you thought it would. I usually pick one word as a focus for the new year, but 2021 is going to require THREE -- Hope, Edit and Love.
I’ve always known that without hope there would be little reason to fight life’s challenges. Hope gives us the fortitude to last just a bit longer when hanging on in the face of miserable conditions. Hope that tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, the worst will be behind us and we’ll again be happier.
My 2020 Experience
I was on track to update my first release, P.R.I.S.M. Book One, by the end of September in anticipation of releasing its sequel, PRISM 2: Rebellion, before Halloween. By Thanksgiving, I’d planned to release Keeping Athena. All of these had been edited at least four times already. My only job was to go through the text, approving the final copy edits.
None of those releases happened, but a lot of other things did—to my friends and to me. As the days passed, I lost hope about meeting my self-appointed deadlines. When each one slipped by, I felt like a failure because I couldn’t work on the required edits. My head just wasn’t in the game. I struggled to maintain my exercise routine because I knew that after my injury, my physical health was important for success in all endeavors. Even though I couldn’t walk as far, I walked three days a week. I completed my Zoom workouts with my trainer, though my slower speed often allowed only 2 sets instead of my usual three in the hour.
Though they weren’t as good as before, my physical workouts gave me hope that one day I would fight my way back to where I used to be. I’ve parlayed that hope into beginning work on the final edits for those two new books. There’s an outside chance that one (or with a miracle, both) will be up on Amazon before the end of the year.
Imagine you’ve got two books totaling nine hundred pages of edits, and you’ve just finished an edit of another over four-hundred-page book. That fourth book that I hope to publish in April? It’s finished, just requires a couple more rounds of, you guessed it, edits. Makes you want to run right into your computer and plow through pages, right?
Luckily, my wonderful developmental editor, Tiffany Yates Martin, published a book titled Intuitive Editing. You can listen to a podcast with her here. Her book came out at just the right time to help me regain hope as I began what seemed like an eternal slog through over a thousand pages to edit. I’ve learned so much from working with Tiffany, but her book reminded me of points I haven’t yet mastered and encouraged me to stay in the game.
While in the middle of the edits I took a week-long virtual intensive class with a view toward the next book that I hope to publish in the late spring of 2021. Learning new information that could be immediately applied brought new meaning to hope and edit. The eight-hour-a-day virtual classes brought the love of writing back.
For why do we go through all we do to write our stories, if not for love? Love of writing. Love of story-telling. No matter what genre you write, you won’t write for long if you don’t love “the work.” It takes thousands of hours to learn to craft a saleable book, thousands more for a best-seller. That’s a lot of time after a day job and life’s requirements. Time that could have been spent (before Covid) with friends and family or recreation or a number of other enjoyable pursuits.
So there you have it. Hope. Edit. Love. Three four-letter words passed on to me for 2021 through the literal, and not so literal, fires of 2020. Perhaps they can help you re-focus your energy for the new year.
What word (or words) will help you thrive in 2021? Let's talk about them down in the comments!
* * * * * *
Fae Rowen discovered the romance genre after years as a sci fi freak. Writing futuristics and medieval paranormals, she jokes that she can live anywhere but the present.
Punished, oh-no, that’s published as a co-author of a math textbook, she yearns to hear personal stories about finding love from those who read her books, rather than horrors of arithmetic lessons gone wrong.
A “hard” scientist who avoided writing classes like the plague, she now enjoys sharing her brain with characters who demand that their stories be told. Amazing, gifted critique partners keep her on the straight and narrow.
She’s the best pilot on her prison world. He’s heir to Earth’s largest conglomerate. What could they possibly have in common? The engagement ring he gave her before he returned to Earth.
O’Neill isn’t sure if the Earther will return to her. She’s been a little busy defending herself against the First Law of Prism.
On Earth, Jericho Montgomery finds that Gatfield Montgomery, the man he’d thought was his father, has signed an engagement contract for Jericho to marry. He defies Gatfield and returns to Prism—to the only woman he’s ever loved.
If you like fiercely independent characters willing to fight for what they believe in, a world with a unique society, and surprises, you’ll love Fae Rowen’s latest science fiction romance.
Copyright © 2023 Writers In The Storm - All Rights Reserved
Such a great post, Fae. I've watched your struggles this year, and applaud your results!
My word for the coming year is: Awareness. I want to live more in the moment - to suck the marrow out of every day, instead of thinking about the future. Seems to me to be the path to gratitude.
"Awareness"...love it. It was so hard to cut through the fog and haze of 2020. To be fully aware. Not distracted. Not distressed. Laura, you've picked a winner.
I agree, Chris. "Awareness" is a winner, although there have been times this past year I'm glad I was a little less than aware...
Your early morning wit is beyond me, Laura! But here's to the sucking of that chef's wonder -- bone marrow-- with awareness!
Thanks for this thoughtful post. My words for 2021 are: Mindful, Soul, and Love. Like Laura Drake, I want to learn to live more in the moment, to nourish my soul with nature's beauty, and creating joy every day, and to love myself, my family, my circumstances, and my life more than I ever have. Maybe then, I can better focus on the work of writing and actually finish a book.
"Mindful"...what a great word and a goal. It says so much. And can mean so much.
"Mindful, soul, and love." Wow, sounds like you'll be busy, but content, in 2021, Vanessa. And, of course, you'll finish that book!
Bless you, Chris. As a fellow optimist, losing my hope is my secret fear (not so secret anymore). I'm not trained to help someone whose pain is so great that hope cannot be found, but I am grateful to those who are. So many times, just being able to talk through something that seems to have no solution can be what's needed. You might end up with Micky Mouse ears!
I've been thinking about my word for 2021 for the past week. "Hope" was one of my top contenders, Fae. But then I realized I've been an optimistic-realist my entire adult life...thanks to my many years working at Disney, I suppose.
Not to be a Debbie-Downer, but the increase in--or perhaps the awareness of--suicides recently drew me into a research rabbit hole. It's truly a situation of being in the exact opposite mindset of hopefulness: it's about hopelessness. I truly cannot even imagine (and I have a pretty robust capacity to imagine) what it would be like believe that your life's runway has run out. I am blessed not to know that level of sadness or solitude.
That lead me to pick "Listen" as my word and task for 2021. To listen more than I speak. To process what I'm hearing and not be preparing what I want to say next. To never politely accept a "fine" to my "how-are-you?" inquiries.
In some circles, this is called "active listening." The goal is to hear what people are REALLY saying. In the end, active listening is supposed to increase your productivity, as well as your ability to influence, persuade and negotiate. Sound like a pretty good payoffs to me.
But my focus will be on living and listening more in the moments of 2021. More connected to those I'm speaking with, not to. More connected so that I might pick up signals or signs that someone is in distress. More connected so that I note when a person's body language is direct disagreement with his or her words. More connected so that I can be a better friend. More connected so that whoever I'm speaking with knows that I'm truly listening...even if that means repeating what that person is saying in my head so I grasp it and communicate back something meaningful and memorable.
To all you WITS readers, take a moment to tell us what you're going to work on in the new year...so we can help support you in your quest.
I'm here and I'm listening.
Your goals sound like you will be a true friend. Those who encounter you will be blessed.
I've always loved your shiny sweet heart, Chris. I'm listening too, both to myself and others. Listening to others is often the easier one for me.
Oh Chris, I love that word! And one I’m going to work on this year, too. Thanks for the reminder, wise one.
I love this post so much, Fae--your determination and fortitude are inspiring, and the idea of using guiding words each year is intriguing. I love yours--and I love the ones in the other comments. It's got me thinking. ("Listen" especially delights me, Christopher Lentz, for many reasons, not least being the polarization in the world that I'd love to find a way to help bridge.) Thanks for sharing this, Fae--and thanks for that delightful shout-out for Intuitive Editing too! That it might serve authors as a guidebook for writing, editing, and revision but also instill in them some measure of confidence and optimism for the process is everything I could have hoped for in writing it. <3
Thanks, Tiffany. P.R.I.S.M. 2:REBELLION is all set to go live on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, but when it came to pushing the button last week, I decided to wait until 2021. It just felt better. So much more in line with Hope, Edit, Love. For anyone who hasn't been fortunate enough to work personally with you, your book is the next best thing. It's a very good way to learn (or review) how to edit well.
That's so good to hear, Fae--that was my best hope in writing the book. 🙂 Thanks--and huge congrats on PRISM 2 and ATHENA! They're both so good, and I'm delighted to see them out in the world.
First of all, Fae, thank you for this post. In regards to your health, please keep doing what you're doing and how you should be doing it. There is "another side" you can reach. Pair patience with determination and you'll get there. In 2010 I was told the rest of my life would be spent in a chair with an oxygen tank. It took seven years of fighting to prove them wrong. Now, I walk and ride a bike with no tank. You can do it!
My words, at least this morning, would be Edit, Hope, and Purpose. They were taught to me by a stern, unforgiving teacher named 2020. I'd always had them, but like Dorothy I didn't fully understand until this year. I spent my recovery years learning my craft (and still am, of course). The last few years I've been prolific in the extreme, but hesitant in direction. This year my love for Editing became profound. My Purpose clarified, it's become my beacon, Hope the ship that I shall sail upon.
Thank you so much for the encouragement, Ontyre. I am on "my way back"and plan to be better than ever this time next year. Congratulations on your much longer road to regain your health. That just shows you can do anything. It sounds like you're ready to publish something in 2021. Go for it! I know that once I made the decision in 2016 to self-pub my first book, my writing took a different course, propelled with purpose. Let us know how you're doing in 2021 so we can share your success!
I love this post so much, Fae, and everyone's great words for 2021. I have only one word that encompasses all my hopes, my gratitude, my mindfulness, my soul: happiness. Once you are happy and joyful, you've achieved all those words. I call it my umbrella word. Happy New Joyful Year to all!
Thank you for that reminder, Barb. Happiness is so important to life. I love that it's your "umbrella" word. Perfect!
I love the image of an umbrella word, Barb! Umbrellas are such a quiet oasis in a storm.
My four words for 2021 is "I can do this." I have three things I want to finish from 2020 (get two books published that I wrote in 2020 and get my new website functional so I can market my books.) Looking back at recent successes helps build the confidence to keep trying.
"I can do this." Yes! That works in all areas of life, but especially with the three things you want to accomplish in 2021. It sounds like you'll have a year spent with mostly non-writing tasks, but that's part of this business now. Thanks for the great reminder to look back on our past success to provide confidence to move forward. Writing is so solitary, I often forget my past success and beat myself up when I miss a self-determined deadline... until a non-writing friend says, "You aren't lazy. You've finished five freaking books!" Let us know as you finish each task. I want to see that website!
Love your words.
I've been afraid to claim a word for 2021. Someone asked me for a word yesterday, and I didn't give it a lot of thought, but I said *Intentional*. I want to write with intent. An idea popped in my head the other night, and I wrote down characters, plot ideas, and a few other things to stew on. I want to use those ideas to create something, and hopefully tie it into another work I have.
Good start. Now share one of those ideas that you are most comfortable with. That becomes your public commitment and one that others can encourage you on.
The title is, *Say Yes to Christmas*.
Fantastic title, Denise!
Thank you, Laura!
a lot of potential. It is a good prompt. Tell us more.
I'm not ready to share more.
Don't you just love it when you get that inspiration for something new that puts the "buttons and bows" on something else? Writing with intent means you want to connect with your readers. Once you've pushed that intentional button, be prepared for many for experiences like you had the other night. And Ken's suggestion for a public commitment is perfect to let others help you on your quest. Lots of times we don't want to "bother" others, but letting them bolster our resolve, listen to our doubts, and support us is a gift we give to those who love us. I know that it's often hard to accept that gift, but let them share the love by doing what they can to get you through those rough writing days.
My word for the new year is "balance." I've been buried with day job work since mid-March, to the point of pain. The hubs and I have both been working almost 7 days a week for months and I'd like to reclaim some of that time for exercise, writing and ME. So...Balance. That's my word and my goal.
Balance is so important. Seeing as work commands so much of your time, I can only hope it is a joy. There are other joys in life, and it is good to be involved in them too. Before I retired, teaching took up a majority of my time. I loved it and hardly noticed the imbalance. Family didn't get all that they deserved. That's hind sight. So I can say go for that balance.
Balance is a necessary "thing" to have, Jenny. With all your activities, all I can say is, hang in there!
I needed this. Thank you. And yay for your upcoming releases! ♥
I'm glad this was helpful for you, Julie. And, yes, I'm excited that I finally finished making PRISM 2 better than PRISM 1 so I can release it to the world! Thanks!
Great essay, Fae! My word for 2020 was, "Finish!" I felt I had too many projects that were half-done. Despite all the time COVID has provided, that's going to be my word for 2021. But I also can relate to Jenny Hansen's "Balance." Thanks, and take care!
Hi James! I can't believe you came up with my alternative word! I have there projects in various forms...all awaiting completion. Here's to finishing this year!
I enjoyed this article, Fae. From watching the events of the past year, I've discovered three one-word questions that I hope to implement in living. Is it: Right (moral)? Proper (inoffensive)? Sensible. Just 'found' this website. I like it!