Well, I sound sprightlier than I actually am seeing as how it's a holiday, and I still got up at 2:30 like I normally do for work. It's been three years since I got this job, and I don't think I'll ever physically get used to this schedule, but needs must. I don't change my alarm on the weekends and never sleep in. I make up for that with naps more than once after chores and errands are done, but I don't mess with a pretty precarious schedule now that I've forced myself into it. But I'm not here for that.
Happy New Year! We're now into a shiny, still-untested 2024, and I'm honestly crossing my fingers that things will be much better this time around. All right, so I've been doing that since 2020, and so far, none of the succeeding years have lived up to my hopes. But maybe four years after that nightmare of a year will see an improvement.
I usually don't do retrospectives, but I'm inclined to do it for this New Year's Day.
LIFE / WORK
My day job settled into a surprisingly efficient and effective machine. Leading up to the first half of 2023, we all struggled to keep up with store orders, and as the direct supervisor of the custom framing crew, I also burned the candle on both ends. Not fun. That plus I came down with COVID just after New Year's Day last year laid waste to any good will I tentatively harbored toward the rest of the months.
But following the departure of a couple of unreliable workers (one of whom was quite toxic) and the move to a full-time position for the last part-time framer, the crew finally was made up of all full-time employees who have proven themselves to be terrific workers who also know not to take things too seriously. That's the mindset that helps see us all through a massive workload each day, and I'm so proud of everyone.
We even got so far ahead of schedule that we were given Dec. 26 off (an unplanned move, btw, and one I campaigned for) and even after coming back from an extended weekend, we surged forward and continue to be ahead of schedule. I've got the best team ever, and, yep, I'm proud of them.
So proud, in fact, that I've been messing up their health with cookies and chocolates throughout the holiday rush. Never say I don't feel maternal urges because I never had children.
The worst thing that happened last year was the loss of my youngest nephew to depression and suicide. He was only 17 and had struggled with his mental health, even claiming in his suicide note that he'd attempted it before though no one knew, not even his parents. My sister and her husband are coping as best as they can, and it's been a horribly traumatic experience for the family. We lost him while I was in the middle of writing Nightshade's Emporium, which, in turn, slightly changed its focus. And that's because I took out my grief on the book and tried to sort stuff out in my head through its plot.
The book's still a dark comedy, and I'm dedicating that to my nephew, but it's helped me find my center again (in addition to the love and connection my family continues to bless me with). I hope I never lose sight of what I got out of the experience.
I finished the first draft of Nightshade's Emporium on Dec. 26, and I'm taking a break from all writing-related stuff this final holiday break. I'm headed back to the trenches for revisions and edits in the coming weekend, and hopefully my head's fully cleared, and it'll be like reading the story for the first time.
2024, as mentioned in a previous post, will the year of comedy from me. This book and The Dubious Commode, the third sequel and final book for the Ghosts and Tea collection, are the two planned releases. I at first was looking for a five-month turnaround for each long novella I hope to publish, but I decided in the end to be kinder to myself and to be more protective of my physical and mental health. My old preference for a three-book release schedule every year no longer holds up, and circumstances in the past year have altered my perspective significantly.
2023 will be the last year I'll be publishing more than two books. As with my online presence, I'm willingly and happily taking a step back and will be working within my comfort zone, no matter what happens. It'll be easy for me to be tempted to just let it all hang out and go for a three-book publishing calendar, especially if I finish a book within my projected date of completion. But given other real world factors all working together to keep my attention fully divided, it's just as easy to just say, "Fuck it. It can wait."
We only live once, and that single chance given us requires mindful self-care and kindness to the world. At least that's become my motto, and I'm trying to live up to it.
The plot for The Dubious Commode is already nicely laid out in my notebook, and I'm beginning to work on preliminary stuff for Voices in the Briars. I'm not looking too far out yet and planning the book that's supposed to come out after Voices in the Briars. I've got enough on my plate to tide me over for the year, and so far, I'm able to keep to this schedule. If anything, this'll give me even more time to pull away and rest my brain before diving into the next book.
So I guess my motto will need "I'm not getting any younger" tacked on as well. I'm nothing if not pragmatic, you know.