In light of my post yesterday about doing something this year that scares the bejeezes out of me, this quote seem appropriate. It’s heartbreaking, though, that I only saw it because this beautiful, tough, inspirational lady passed away today.
To say that Carrie Fisher was an icon is to put it mildly. She was the most badass princess in pop culture. She was honest about her bipolar disorder, about the fact that fighting it was one of the hardest things imaginable, and that it would be a lifelong struggle. She wrote honestly and hilariously about her substance abuse problems and about how difficult it was to be a child of a Hollywood power couple. She brought a lot of light to the world, and the world is poorer today than it was yesterday.*
So, today, let’s pick ourselves up and decide that we’re going to do something that scares the shit out of us. For Princess Leia.
*Did any of us realize how rich we at this time in 2015? “2016 is going to be awesome!” said a bunch of people, probably. And now we’re down one Prince, one Mohammed Ali, a Leonard Cohen, and the only David Bowie we had. Man, it’s been one hell of a crash.
This year, instead of New Year’s Resolutions, I’m setting goals for the new year (more on that later). I’ve been thinking about what goals I want to set, how ambitious I want them to be, whether they ought to be mostly about professional targets or personal. But one thing that I am absolutely sure of is that at least one of them should be something that scares me.
In general, I’m not a particularly brave person. I’m very good at talking myself out of risks, justifying avoiding things that make me uncomfortable, and telling myself it’s totally fine that I didn’t do that thing I was scared of. I see it as one of my biggest failings. But the approaching onset (or maybe it’s already here?) of middle age is doing something strange to me: it’s laying bare the extent to which my own failure to accomplish goal has been a direct result of me getting in my own way. Giving in to fear has been a big part of that. Increasingly, facing and overcoming the things that scares me seem less optional than it did before.
So, I’ll have more to say about exactly what terrifying things I’ll be doing this year, but for now, facing my fear feels more exhilarating than anything else.
Like many in this country, the results of the 2016 election were depressing. In the aftermath, I was too upset to continue visiting my normal internet haunts. Instead, I found myself turning to an unlikely source of comfort: sewing blogs.
It probably shouldn’t surprise anyone all that much. After all, creative pursuits have always put me in a good mood. But sewing–or at least blogs about it–turned out to be a particularly good refuge. Unlike blogs about art or writing or music, all of which seemed seized with the same dread I was feeling and needed to escape, sewing blogs are almost always apolitical. Their authors are usually incredibly earnest women who really love making things and would really rather not discuss something as unpleasant as politics. They were exactly what I needed.
One of my favorites is Gretchen Hirsch. Her retro style and approachability combined with her clear deep knowledge and love of construction I find irresistible. Hers is one of my favorite Instagram feeds. So imagine my delight when it turned out that two of her books were waiting for me under the tree! I’ve spent much of the day reading and flipping through them, imagining the things I will make, the amazing vintage-style clothes I will be able to wear!
Don’t worry–I’m not announcing that, oh, wait, this is really going to be a sewing blog. I’m still first and foremost a writer. Rather my point is a.) merry Christmas and b.) sometimes the strangest things can set us off in productive directions. Who would have thought that the election of a… well, you know would have led me to this particular pursuit. Life is funny.
A recent episode of the terrific #AmWriting podcast hosted by KJ Della’Antonia and Jessica Lahey featured the romance novelist Sarina Bowen. I’d never heard of Ms. Bowen before, but from the podcast it was clear that she’s not only a smart lady, she’s a really savvy businesswoman with a lot to teach.
But the most important take away from the episode (for me, at least) was something all three writers agreed on 100%: if you are planning to publish a book–any book–you need to be laying the promotional groundwork yesterday. The website needs to be up and running, the Facebook profile needs to be live, and you need to be ready to take names and email addresses for the newsletter.
My novel’s draft isn’t even fully completed yet, but it’s a lesson I’m taking to heart now. After my long break from writing, I’m back with a renewed focus and excitement. And I need to take advantage of that by getting this site going as well.
First posts are always a little weird. The reality is that by the time anybody sees this site, this post will (hopefully) be buried under a big stack of better posts. But you gotta start somewhere. So here I am, starting here.