Zoey the Cute Dachshund unwraps her presents on Christmas Day, leaving bits of ribbon and paper. Her unwrapping antics are like reviewing a year of trails, tribulations and presents!
By Shelley Widhalm
Wrapping up a year is a time for reflection, and starting a new one is a time for resolutions.
My reflections will be in two parts: practical and then personal. As for resolutions, I’ll wait for January’s first blog in 2018.
This year, I made the commitment to blog every week, though at times it’s felt like a chore. With 52 spots to fill, how do writers keep coming up with ideas to write about writing and editing that are interesting, informative and insightful? I developed an editorial calendar and a topic for the month, using my writers’ magazines, conversations with writers and brainstorming sessions for idea generation.
I made the commitment to write a poem a day, starting in August—I mostly kept on track with that, slipping here and there and then poem cramming, writing five to eight at once to fill in the blanks.
I also made the commitment to write short stories, edit my novels and get published. My ROI was a few stories, partial editing that still is on my task list and stuff in the drawer—or in the laptop files.
I also (another also!) learned a lot by writing about writing and all of the components of the process.
This is where I could go deep about my awful, wonderful, tiring, I-wonder-if-I-can-do-it 2017 year. I didn’t plan to get laid off from a newspaper writing position in November 2016—of course not!—nor did I plan to start a writing and editing business, Shell’s Ink Services. Freelancing and writing and editing for clients is something I did on occasion and wanted to do professionally but in one of those bucket list kind of ways. It was for later and to not take too seriously, because it seemed scary and a big unknown.
But then I found myself building a website, teaching myself along the way and crying out of frustration and not knowing what I was doing. I filed the paperwork for my business in mid-January, created marketing materials over the next couple of months and started freelancing for a couple of newspapers. I also looked for a job.
My friend, an entrepreneur who does tech support, said I should launch my website—I said, “It needs to be perfect and I’m not ready!”—but I did it (in February). He suggested I send a press release to the local newspaper—“I’m not ready, again!”—but I did it (in March).
I started going to the Loveland Business Development Center, getting advice on starting and building a business (in April). I went to Loveland Startup Week (also in April) geared toward entrepreneurs, feeling scared and out of place.
At the Bottom to the Top
That’s when I started the name calling. About and against me: Insecure Entrepreneur, Shy Entrepreneur, Scared Entrepreneur.
What am I doing?
I wanted a guidebook, a textbook and directions step-by-step of how to do this. I wanted 9-to-5. I wanted Linus’s security blanket. I wanted my puppy.
I got questions. I got lost. I felt alone. Scared. Unsure of what to do or what’s next. I’ve heard that entrepreneurs feel scared and alone, so I wasn’t “alone” technically. I called my mother—lots. I cried—lots. I wondered what I was doing.
And then I got sick of feeling like a “loser” when I was trying to win. I decided to be happy and tell myself that “Yes, I can,” and took my little writing and editing engine and pushed it up the hill. I Facebooked a friend five days before Christmas, who is Grinch-y at Christmastime and loves to post negative crap online: “I am happy even when things suck because I have me.”
I posted on my wall a few days earlier: “I feel gratitude that I got thrown to the wind and found my wings. I finally see this!”
Every time I get discouraged, I imagine big wings on my body and the image reminds me of that post. Thinking about myself with fluffs of feathers is a way to get rid of any negative thoughts, because it’s a funny image that takes the mind to the power of wings that lift.
At the end of 2017, I can say I’m more confident, less scared (but still so, because I don’t have my 9-to-5 to count on) and more in the moment. I can’t think about the big future and the crappy layoff and the other crap of life. I have to think about what brought me to this point in the first place: I love writing. I can’t live without writing. Writing is my joy.
Happy New Year and Joy to Writing, Reading and Editing!