I have an annual ritual, where I look back over the year that has just been and reflect on the little wins. I look at the goals that I had set myself the year before and take the time to reassess my progress, shifting tactics if needed.
Well, I can happily report that the year 2023 was highly productive. And 2024 is shaping up to be just as productive.
I finished the fiction novel that I had been working on since late 2022 and started a new novel. My nonfiction book, Hidden Traps of the Internet, is in its final production stages, due to be released in February 2024. I've launched new services for Black Wolf Editorial Services, with more coming online next year. And I've managed to help the writing community around me grow, rebooting the support network that we all needed.
It's been a good year!
Time to look back at the nitty-gritty.
My word for the year was HEALTH.
Every year, I choose a word that will represent my focus for the year. For years, I've used the word PROTECT, because so much of what I do is about protecting myself and those around me. But this year, I decided to add a focus layer to my protection ethos.
Protect my physical health by looking at my diet and my gut health. Protect my mental health by taking the time to remind myself that I'm human and can only do so much (there were other aspects to it, which I'm still working through). Protect my financial health by looking at the budgets and work out what we really need to do to not just survive but thrive. And protect my relationship health by finding a way to reconnect with those around me—my family and my writing community.
I'm not the same person I was a year ago. Well… I am, but mentally, I'm in a completely different space. I finished 2022 with a dumpster-fire attitude that was self-destructive. I don't want to go into the specifics, not on public channels anyway, but just know that it was a bad mental space to be in.
But now, I've reconnected to the person I was in my youth, the go-get-'em girl, who didn't let anything stand in her way of achieving her goals. When one road doesn't work, the bulldozer plowed a new road—one built just for me. Portions of the road still need to be built, but the foundations are already there.
Reconnecting with my writing
A huge part of my mental health protection strategy was to reconnect with my writing—both the fiction and the nonfiction.
On the fiction front, I pushed myself to finish the initial draft of the novel that I started late last year. That manuscript went into the metaphorical drawer at the end of October, and won't come out again until I have finished the initial draft of another story. I really want to go back to that story, which is giving the push I need to finish the draft on the current work-in-progress.
Within the nonfiction space, I had a massive realization at the end of last year. I have so much knowledge in my head, but I was holding back on writing those nonfiction books—out of fear. It wasn't fear related to the quality of work—because this is me. Little Miss Perfectionist. But I was afraid that people would see the advice that I'm giving and question where the advice is coming from—ignoring the years of experience that built the foundations of that advice. But almost every other day, I would find myself in a conversation on some social media forum and I would find myself copying and pasting quotes from already written material.
That's when I realized that the already written material needed to be published. It needed to be allowed to roam the world, where others could benefit from my knowledge.
I finally got the kick up the backside that I needed when I got an email from IngramSpark, saying that they were pulling the ebook version of my 2017 book from publication. The only option that was acceptable to me was to get my A into G and rewrite (and restructure) my book about building online platforms safely, and get it out there.
Hidden Traps of the Internet: Building and Protecting Your Online Platform. It will be released to the world at large come late-February 2024. I still have a lot of work to do… Which kind of leads me to my biggest lesson for the year.
I'm not Wonder Woman
As much as I might hate to admit it, I'm not Wonder Woman. I can't do everything on my own. I have to ask for help from those with the skills to help me.
I have a lot of knowledge and technical skills myself. However, sometimes, it's better to just pay someone else to take certain tasks off my hands, so I don't have to stress about them and I have the time needed to do the things that only I can do.
In my efforts to keep the costs down for the publication of Hidden Traps of the Internet, I had this idea that I would design the book cover myself. Well… I had created something that would work, but in my opinion, it was substandard and looked cheap. In the end, I decided to hire the graphic designer that many local writers were using for their own books.
And it was worth every penny! Not only do I now have an amazing cover, but I also have the lack of stress over it.
I mean, check it out! Isn't it gorgeous? And it totally fits the genre and the nature of the book. It's entirely me!
But the paying-someone-else-to-take-the-stress-away idea didn't stop there. I've also hired a graphic designer to design the promo graphics and layouts for the supplementary materials for the book.
I'm embracing the idea of paying people to take the stress away!
(And my writing buddies are cheering in the corner, because it was a hard lesson for me to learn.)
Shift in business model
I'm still working towards shifting the business model for Black Wolf Editorial Services. It is still my goal to take on more mentoring clients, but anything worth having takes time. My name is getting out there, and that's what counts at this stage.
Everything that I do for my writing will help in the shift of the business model. Not only am I building a body of work that will help others realize that I really do know what I'm talking about, but I'm also creating different facets for the company (and my income streams).
It's a work in progress, but a fun journey at the same time.
2024's journey to come
2024 will be starting off with a massive bang, as Hidden Traps of the Internet is released to the world. But the fun won't stop there.
I'm already lined up to be a presenter at two conferences, one where I'm being given a keynote-type slot. (More information to come in future social media posts and newsletter emails.) And I'll be pitching articles and workshops to other portals.
Now that the momentum has started, I'll be working on getting the full draft down soon for the next nonfiction book (just need to decide on which cabinet of my knowledge to draw on). And I continue to write the fiction.
There are plans in place to get the fiction out into the world, too, but certain decision have yet to be made. I'm kind of afraid of making those decisions, but I'm getting closer. Recent reports seen about the transformation of the publishing landscape are helping to ease my fears.
My words for 2024 will continue to be PROTECT HEALTH. While this year has seen leaps and bounds, I still have a long way to go, particularly on the mental health and physical health front. But everything is a work-in-progress and heading in the right direction.