It’s a week until Rosh Hashanah, which for Jews means this is the last week of the year.
What a year.
The world has suffered through a lot this year. Looking ahead, I see so much to pray for in the coming year: peace for the world, individual nations, and in our personal lives; rescue for captives; and what in Hebrew we call “Menuchas HaNefesh,” the ability to remain tranquil even when in stormy seas. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
But looking back professionally, I’m profoundly grateful for a very productive year.
Top 5 Things I’m Grateful For This Past Year As a Writer:
1) I’ve published more in the last year than in the prior 38 years of my life combined. It’s a little shocking to me, and I know I couldn’t have done it without Heavenly Assistance.
2) I’m particularly proud of pieces that really touched people or brought awareness of issues people haven’t always paid attention to, like my essay about overcoming my driving phobia that appeared in Binah, my article about women accepting each other across the spectrum of Jewish practice in Tablet, and my short story in Binah‘s Twirl supplement about coming to terms with a grandparent’s Alzheimer’s. There’s nothing better than hearing from a passerby in the street that they enjoyed my story, or receiving an email from a stranger who felt less alone because they read my article.
3) This year, I’ve made friends with many of my amazing colleagues. I’ve learned so much from editors, writers, and fellow bloggers, and now enjoy personal connections as well with several of them.
4) I learned to say, “No,” and “Not now.” Some of the aforementioned editors might be mad at me about this, but my family members are very, very relieved that I’m not forcing myself to stay up to all hours and then crankyfaced with them in the morning because I have to meet a deadline and am overbooked. I’ve also realized that while there’s a certain prestige attached to particular projects, some of them are more of a headache than they are worth, or their (short) deadlines cause me too much stress, and there’s no shame turning those down. It’s also an immense blessing that I’ve even gotten to a stage that enough people offer me work that it can seem like “too much” at times (mostly this summer, when I had four kids home for a few weeks and a serial to produce, too boot).
5) I spent more time this year editing and proofreading professionally, and I’m learning to enjoy it. The most rewarding part is developing working relationships with writers and polishing their words til they shine.
On the other hand…
5 Ways I Can Improve in 5775:
1) Stop wasting time. About halfway through the year, it became clear that certain editors wanted me on Facebook and Twitter in order to publicize my pieces on their websites. Unfortunately, this has turned into Pandora’s Box. Not that social media hasn’t helped my career, or that it’s entirely bad, but let’s just say I need to know when to step away from it and just go to bed/read a book/talk to humans face-to-face.
2) Really devoting time to query features. They pay better, and I do know how to do it. Really. I’ve done it before, and I can do it again. But I’ve only been half-heartedly attempting in the last couple years.
3) Finishing the endless revisions of my novel and making headway on the next one. I’ve still not published book number two. ‘Nuff said.
4) No longer fueling my writing by munching, especially while stressed. Let’s not talk about what happens to leftover Shabbos desserts while I’m writing after the kids go to bed.
5) Taking a class. There are many aspects of writing that I have mastered, but there’s a lot of room for me to grow.
What can you look back on this year? What do you hope for the year ahead, as a writer? We’d love to read your comment!