Looking at my previous blog post, it’s been a year since I was actively hands-on with my writer’s platform. 2017 proved to be a challenging year with health and other stressors that I knew would take strength and resilience to remain positive through. As far back as February 2017, I had to “unofficially” put down my tools and take a breather from my planned writing goals. I say unofficially because in stepping away from pursuing publication or higher degree education for 12 months, I actually got a hell of a lot of draft novel writing done participating in NaNoWriMo and both Camp NaNoWriMo sessions in 2017.
I saw no less than four specialist doctors for my health last year, went through numerous medical tests, and was finally able to get some answers and help for the weird and not-so-wonderful things my body was doing. Back then, I made a conscious choice to practice self-care while jumping the medical hoops. I reduced my obligations in general to the bare minimum so I wouldn’t wreck myself knowing I have fibromyalgia flares during stressful times. I removed myself from toxic or negative influences so they weren’t dragging me down with them until they dropped away from my life without unnecessary conflict, and dialled my goals for the year back to smaller ones that I could still manage regardless of what hoop I had to jump next. I knew the most important people in my life would understand, especially on those days I wasn’t keeping it together so well.
Instead, I focused on positive, happy, and funny things. I reminded myself to keep looking at the beauty and kindness of the world, to appreciate the people close to me and have lots of laughs with them, especially those who remain kind and positive through their own challenges, and to remember to notice the little things that matter in the world amongst the deluge of shit in a difficult global climate. I gave myself permission to write like crap as much as I wanted, and to write as casually as I needed, as often as I needed, which opened the steady flow of what turned out to be some of the best writing of my life.
All this led to finally breaking down emotional and psychological barriers around me and overcoming a massive health hurdle. On medical advice, along with new medication, I commenced a new diet regime and have lost 22kg (and counting) now my body is on a path to healing since starting at the end of June last year. I am feeling better than I have in over 20 years and I can truly say my creativity and artistic focus is the best it has been in a long time.
I learned that self-care isn’t about treating yourself to a block of chocolate, a massage or watching your favourite movie in bed. It’s not about taking care of yourself, it’s about caring about yourself to be the best person you can be in the moment and appreciating that will always change from day-to-day. It’s about knowing what battles should be fought and what are okay to set aside and move on from. It’s about identifying what you need to do for yourself to put yourself in a place you’re capable of achieving a life you love and enjoy being present in. It’s about identifying your demons and knowing that even if they might always be there, you’ve got the means to be more powerful than them.
So, I am dubbing 2018 the Year of the Book. Not just my book and aiming to get it published, but every book everyone out there is turning pages on to try to figure out their own journey. Everyone’s book is different. Everyone’s protagonist has a different villain they face, and everyone’s plot will twist and turn in ways not everyone else will understand. And that’s okay. Because no one else really should write your book better than you write it yourself. They’re busy trying to figure out what happens in the next chapter of theirs. I’m jumping back into the crazy world of being a determined and ambitious writer head-first with a new lease on life. I’m going to get there too, whatever it takes. The first draft of my novel is getting closer and closer to completion and I have already met some wonderful and amazing new writers as I begin to take the reigns and spur this pony back into action.
2018: The Year of the Book. Don’t forget to turn the next page of yours.