2018_goals_improve_donna_amis_davis_by_the_sulu_sea

Happy New Year! It’s a gorgeous San Diego winter day as I write this New Year’s blog post. Sunny and 69 degrees at noon. Outside the window from my desk, I can see the three-year-old girl across the street learning to ride her tiny new bike down the sidewalk. Memories of trying out new bikes and skates and skateboards on sunny Christmas days fill my mind. But it will get chilly again tonight. 47 degrees is predicted. Brrr. My friends in Michigan and Colorado and Minnesota are laughing, while my friends in Indonesia and the Philippines try to imagine ever feeling cold again. It’s all your perspective, isn’t it?

And that’s what I love about a new year, a new chance, a fresh page. Time to reset, time to evaluate, time for perspective.

2017 was a huge year for me personally. I finally got my little book out there! I’d only been working on it for seven-plus years, guys! Six years of on-and-off again writing, the whole while reading and learning about plot and structure and character arcs and conflict and scenes and beats and themes and word use and on and on. At the same time, during those years I was building my ‘platform’ — learning how to write a blog, dabbling in social media. Then I spent one year rewriting, editing, getting beta readers and critique group input. Rewriting some more. Then another three months or so learning how to self-publish it.

It was excruciating to let my book baby go out in public after nurturing it and coddling it for so long. What if people were mean to it? What if people didn’t like it? Or worse, what if people ignored it? I might be criticized. I might be laughed at. Humiliated! I tell you, folks, I went through some dark nights of the soul right before launching my book. I was about the most scared I’ve ever been the few days before launching that puppy. My anxiety level was so high I had the jitters. The day before launch, I went out and chopped a bunch of branches from a tree in our yard just to use up some of my nervous energy.

If you read By the Sulu Sea, you might realize that the struggle my main character, Shelby goes through trying to complete her research project was a metaphor for what this ol’ author was struggling with trying to write the dang book. It’s from my heart, folks. The lessons Shelby learned, I’ve had to apply to my own life.

Because guess what? My book didn’t take off and zoom up to the best seller list. I haven’t made a million bucks from it. And, of course, I didn’t expect it to. A huge thank you goes to those who have read it so far, and to those who have given me some wonderful feedback. Thank you to my one reviewer on Amazon! But, perhaps unrealistically, I was hoping for a bit more pizzazz. So I’ve I had to take stock, evaluate, and decide what’s next. Do I say — My book didn’t take off. I suck at writing. I failed. I give up — Or do I take a big deep breath, pull up the big girl pants, and keep going?

Which leads to my word for this year, 2018. I chose IMPROVE. Have you seen the TedTalk about the Power of Believing You Can Improve? It’s worth 10 minutes of your time to watch it. The lesson is NOT YET. Not that you failed, but that you didn’t get there YET.

I have another philosophy that plays into this too. It’s called 1% times Infinity. The idea behind that is that you can always improve a little bit every day, and you can keep improving forever. The power of incremental change. It multiplies over time. Thanks to Bjork at Pinch of Yum for this one. (I started following the creative young couple behind that blog when I was building my own blog. I really admire them. And they have a Philippine connection, too.)

So, back to the New Year! By the way, I’m one of those people who love making New Year’s resolutions. I’ve developed some good new habits over the years. Others I’m still working on *wry-face*. I’ve got goals for the year in lots of areas of my life — spiritual, health and fitness, relationships, home and yard. I won’t bore you with all of those. But this year I want to improve my writing. I’ll be reading up on the craft of writing. I already have a stack of good books, and will be adding to it. I need to get back into a critique group again. I want to improve my productivity and output — I’ve got some (hopefully) realistic goals for that. I want to improve on the business side of self-publishing. I need to up my game on social media, work on engaging and growing my email list. Lots of work to do. Lots of tasks to check off my lists. Should keep me happy and busy this year.

How about you? Do you love or hate New Year’s resolutions? Do you have some life hacks that work for you? Do you have a dream that you are scared to launch? You are not alone on that one!

Happy New Year! May 2018 be a great year for you.

 

 

 

 

 

Donna Amis DavisNovelcontemporary fiction,novel,Palawan,Philippines,San Diego,writing  Happy New Year! It's a gorgeous San Diego winter day as I write this New Year's blog post. Sunny and 69 degrees at noon. Outside the window from my desk, I can see the three-year-old girl across the street learning to ride her tiny new bike down the sidewalk....Author of BY THE SULU SEA