Usually I know what my word of the year is likely to be a good month or so before I get to writing my posts on the matter. This year inspiration has gone right to the wire; it only really hit me a day or so ago.
It’s my seventh year of choosing one, and you can read about years 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 here (I don’t think I wrote about 2014’s Creativity or 2013’s Decisiveness). I still feel largely pleased with my year of ‘Do’, but I’m conflicted because the things I thought I would have done, I didn’t – and other things I didn’t expect to happen, did.
I don’t like to make excuses. Scratch that, I love to make excuses, but I know they don’t fly. When I think through last year’s mental To Do list, it’s mixed results.
For example, I had hoped to do a lot more writing last year, and I definitely wrote more often, even here, but I still haven’t finished that bloody first draft. That said, after years and years of all sorts of copywriting, for the first time my job actually reflects that I’m a copywriter, and I came to a lot of conclusions about what that means and what I think I want from this life (even so). Also. for the first time I was asked to contribute to The Pool (!) and my submission was accepted (!!) and published (!!!) and I will actually get paid (!!!!) to write about a film (!!!!!). (It was about Dumplin’ please read my piece and encourage me to start pitching, which I find bizarrely difficult).
Also, going back to that nagging draft, I have got 35,000 words down, thrown out another 20,000 and, in the last few weeks, had an idea that will require substantial rewrites but should fix the boggiest, stickiest, ugliest bit of the book. And I’m having another writerly Gladentine’s shindig at Gladstone’s Library, which should push me past the next hurdle. On the ‘Do’ front, I’d call this a 7 out of 10.
Plus I now have half an actual plan (and half a share in some equipment) to launch a creative side project with a friend, which I’m sure hopeful for.
Oooh, and I joined a gym and have been *actually going* 2-3 times a week. And I hate it – like, really hate it – but I keep going anyway! And thanks to that I’ve caught up on a lot of TV (Parks and Rec 400 years late) and in spite of both of those I’ve also read at least 50 books I’ve never read before. Which can only help my writing, frankly.
And – and! – I have finally booked the trip of my Actual Dreams. I AM ONLY GOING TO BLOODY JAPAN! We did it, and it’s going to be horribly expensive and my God we should have saved more but if ever there was something to bite the bullet and DO DO DO this was it. Bore (sic) about that soon, I’m sure.
But, on the flip side, the small side hustle of my own that I first planned at the end of 2016 still hasn’t launched, and will probably be well past its prime if I don’t do it in the first quarter of 2019. And I’ve realised I need to step back and rework some of it… and that’s quite painful. So that was an apparently easy ‘Do’ that refused to be done.
I can talk about the very difficult family health times, that do and will continue to trundle on, and blame some of my inertia on that, but that wouldn’t be remotely fair. I can blame some of it on fear, and that would be true. I can even point to a bit of a psychological block where even when I am hectoring myself I get contrary and recalcitrant. In the end, I’m not sure why exactly I don’t feel like my Do quite got Did, even though there was a lot of stuff going on and I had a lot of reasons to be mindful of taking downtime, and family time. But I am left wondering if I need 2019’s word to come without what feels like KPIs attached. Do was supposed to be open-ended, but it feels awkwardly measurable, and with me there is no bucket of happiness big enough that I won’t poke a hole in the bottle and look at the leak instead.
The one breadcrumb trail of self-awareness I will follow is that much of the un-Done stuff involved speaking up for myself. Finishing the draft means having to share my work with people and start pitching agents. Writing for other sites means sticking my neck out and hearing no. I still haven’t gone to argue with my doctor about my thyroid because my God that feels like a lot of effort. I have spoken up a fair amount at work because that feels like a safe domain for it (I have a boss that creates the right atmosphere, which helps), but also the stakes are shared there and it’s a team. I know the side hustle means a long term to commitment to bigging up myself and my work that just comes back to me. And I’m not scared of sadness and I deal with physical pain on a daily basis, but I am deeply, gut-gnawingly terrified of humiliation. I am a fat woman approaching 40 who started her career doing video reviews on YouTube – I know exactly how horrible the world can be when you pratfall in public. But also, is that better or worse than if they don’t notice at all? And is that better or worse than never even trying?
I thought about making ‘try’ my word, but that did feel like a copout (especially after the directness of doing). I wanted something with the momentum of ‘Do’ but without the resultant ass-kicking I just can’t seem to stop giving myself. So I looked at what I was really scared of. Anyone who knows me in real life knows I’m a rambling talker, a chatterer, a gossip-in-a-good-way. But that’s not really speaking up, is it? That’s just making a noise to keep the social wheels turning. To speak up for myself means to to speak to the people I don’t know, to speak of myself kindly, to allow that my good ideas will be heard and my bad ideas might be rebuffed but do not make me bad also. To speak in the world means creating the space for others to listen, and not turning down my own mic and hiding my mouth behind my hands in case they actually hear. It means living with the torment of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time and being accountable for that.
So, with any luck and with a bit of grit, 2019 will be a year for me to get past the talking, and actually Speak.