As I look back on 2010, I realize that this was a watershed year for me in all ways. What ways? Let me count them:
· Life: this was the year my mother died (just a month ago). She was 91 and led a relatively active life up until a week before she died. I’m grieving for myself, not her. Her health had failed and she was ready to ‘move on to the next thing,’ as she put it. I was a primary caregiver for her in the last years of her life, and it made me realize how much I enjoyed that role. I miss it more than I thought I would, just as I miss her.
· “Real” career: This year marks my 25th year in my chosen career (professional technical writer). I stumbled into this career by accident. I have four college degrees, two in computer science and two in English. It seemed like a natural progression to merge them all into one career and it’s sustained me all these years. I really enjoy my job, my co-workers, and my boss. I am so fortunate to have this job and when Mom was sick, I realized that even more as I was able to travel to be with her and still telecommute, with the blessing of my company and my boss. I make good money, I’m challenged, and I’m valued. What more can a person ask?
· My writing career: This year marks the end of my fourth year of my publication journeys. My first book released in June of 2007 and since then 18 of my books have released. I have contracts for 5 more books next year and I have 4 books written, waiting to submit. I’ve enjoyed my publishing experiences, but I’m restless to move on to a new challenge. I’m sure I’ll still write for publication, but I may try a new publisher, or I may try self-publishing, or I may try … who knows what?
· Health: I had some challenging health issues this year that have stumped all the doctors I visited. It made me realize that medicine is really an art, not a science, as we would like to think. These are the sort of health problems that aren’t life-threatening, but are life changing in that I have to adjust how I do my daily life in order to accommodate pain and discomfort. So I haven’t been aggressive about pursuing ‘a cure,’ because I’m not convinced there is one (and I don’t want to spend more hours in an MRI machine, thank-you-very-much).
So what does this all add up to?
It has reinforced my firm belief that life is a teeter-totter and for every high, there’s a low, and vice versa. My mother died, but…I suddenly have much more free time, time to pursue new interests and challenges. My day job is great…and I need to remember that when I’m on deadline and working bunches of overtime. My writing career is just that—a career. I’m in charge of it, and I need to determine what I want to do with it. And my health, while shaky at times, is still okay. I need to re-intensify my physical therapy and take charge of my aches and pains and not let them slow me down…much.
The more I consider it, the more I think that publishing is like a microcosm of life. Trends come and go, publishing houses rise and fall, sales ebb and flow. And through it all, we continue to write stories people want to read about characters we love. It may seem like our success if out of our control and at the whim of editors and agents, but it all depends on how you define success. Today’s triumph will be balanced by tomorrow’s rejection letter. That odd story you’re writing may be tomorrow’s trend. That agent who rejected you may contact you a year from now and ask for more submissions.
Life is a big roller coaster. It’s up to you to hang on and try to enjoy the ride. It won’t always be happy and there will be some stomach-churning dips. But just wait…a peak is coming and a spectacular view is waiting to be seen. It’s all just a matter of time.