As New Year’s Eve approaches each year, I usually do several round-ups here on the blog – of books I’ve read that year, of apps I can’t live without, of crafts I made.
I managed to get the book post in this year, but at 2pm on December 31st, the rest just ain’t gonna happen. So I’m going to try to sum up all the year-end thoughts into one post that will hopefully end up making some sort of sense.
Certainly, the most salient part of my 2013 was writing a book. It was at the very end of 2012 that my publisher started showing an interest in picking it up, and I finally started writing the thing in late March. From then through October, it was pretty much my whole world. I think the book might be a little unusual – we’ve tossed around calling it a handbook for vanquishing creative demons – in that it’s made up of lots of personal essays, some brief features on other people, and a couple dozen exercises I would have liked to have encountered before I started thinking concretely about the role I want creativity to play in my life. Anyway, I like this book very much. It’s flawed, naturally, and I kind of have it in my head that I’d like to write another book sometime, and do it better.
As I look ahead into 2014, the coming year will still have this book at its centre. Leading up to its release early in the fall, I’ll be ramping up this here blog, getting my email newsletter in order, trying to line up speaking engagements and workshops, and generally getting into shape to spend the last quarter of the year trying to get the thing into as many hands as possible. Which should be fun, because I think the book is fun, and I think people will find it fun (if not also challenging and maybe scary, but in a good way).
This was a heckuva year in making. During the book-writing months, just like I hardly read books, I didn’t make much, either. But I did achieve a lot that I’m proud of. First and foremost, I sewed my first two garments – a pair of tiny newborn pants for my dear friend’s daughter, and a beach robe for Owen for our trip to Mexico a couple of weeks ago. Which means that this year, I sewed from paper patterns for the first time, and I sewed things I needed to be happy enough with to send them out into the world. The pants weren’t perfect, but that baby wore them all through a hot summer.
And the robe? Man, I’m pleased with the robe. Do you see how much bias binding is on that thing? Something I’m glad I didn’t know when I sewed it: apparently, set-in sleeves are not considered to be simple. I’m glad I didn’t know that, because I had no trouble with them at all. Then again, they’re one of the few knitting/crochet-related things that translate perfectly into sewing: line up the seams, dude, and smoosh the rest in evenly. And Owen wore the robe every day on holiday after he went swimming. It’s big enough that it should keep him warm through the next couple of summers, too. All from one Ikea bath sheet!
So I’m entering 2014 with an eye on sewing a lot more. Will I finally make some clothes for myself? We’ll see. Perhaps I’ll refuse to learn that planning darts is difficult, so I’ll just do it and not look back.
By the beginning of December, I was more fried than I recall being in years and years. From the time that Greg finished his dissertation toward the end of 2012, we just hadn’t really taken a break. And it got to the point that even the most minor aspects of navigating life seemed impossible to tackle. After just a couple days on holiday, all of life seemed easier. And toward the end of our weeklong trip, I dreamed up a series of crochet designs – literally. I woke up one morning with them all planned out in my mind. That was pretty fucking awesome, and really drove home how much I hadn’t been feeling at all creative for a long time. In the next few weeks, I’ll start toying around with those designs. Maybe they’ll go somewhere.
And business. What a year 2013 was. The book, right right. But also The Holocene. Remember that? I started off 2013 with a tremendous amount of excitement about starting up a digital crafts magazine. Then in June, that project fell apart. It was disappointing, to say the least. It was also somewhat alarming, because it happened suddenly, and I’d made plans around it. Like, I’d planned to spend the second half of 2013 working on it quite a lot, and aiming for it to pay off in, you know, cash money in 2014. When it was suddenly no longer a thing to work on, I was in the throes of writing the book. When I finally surfaced from the book in the fall, I realized I just didn’t have much paying work lined up. This was a bad scene.
I aim for 2014 to involve a lot less speculation and a whole lot more paid contracts. I’ve been enjoying editing self-published books tremendously, and plan to try very hard to attract more contracts of that sort. And I want to pitch more writing to magazines. And I’d like to get back into collaborating more with people on projects that aren’t massive and all-consuming, but that involve the magic of a whole equalling more than the sum of its parts.
So let’s sum this up. In 2013 I learned a lot of things: I learned that I can write a 50,000-word book, and that I enjoy doing such a thing. I learned that daycare really is the best freaking thing in the world for my very social child and for our entire family. I learned that I can sew clothes. I learned how to play a song on the ukulele. I learned that sometimes it takes nearly three years to feel like having a kid is the new normal. I learned that I can and should pursue new and old friendships relentlessly. And I’ve realized I need to get my shit together and aim higher.
I don’t make resolutions, but I do set one or two very high-level goals. In 2014, one goal is money. I need and want to make enough of it that it’s a source of relief rather than stress. Another goal is professional definition. Not like dictionary definition, more like muscle definition. By the end of 2014, I want more work to be coming to me than I get from chasing it down – which means that I want people to know me well enough for my skills that they seek me out, be it for editing, writing, speaking, workshopping, consulting, whatever.
And that, as they say, is that.
I hope you’ve had time to reflect on the last year and look ahead to the coming one, and that all your goals are real and achievable and that you maintain the audacity to make them happen.
Happy New Year!