It’s the beginning of a whole new year; what time could possibly be better to become more motivated and inspired? You have a whole 365 days ahead of you, and now is the time to start making them count, so we're asking authors what they've got planned for the year ahead!
Jasmine Silvera shares her writing journey to date and how it's influenced her plans for 2019.
It may seem a little strange to start the New Year looking back, but for me it is an important part of moving forward. Mostly so I don’t get stuck in a Groundhog Day-style loop. As my sense of what I can accomplish expand from being an unpublished writer to an author, my goals have to grow too. Sometimes it’s easy to get stuck in the daily grind of work—no matter how cool it is that work for me is telling the stories in my head to other people—and not acknowledge what I’ve accomplished. And most importantly, it’s good to recognize not just what I’ve done, but what I’ve been through in any given year. Because life isn’t just rosé and word counts (don’t let Instagram fool you!) it happens.
In 2016, I went from being an unpublished writer to an author when my first book Death’s Dancer came out. I had the sequel, Dancer’s Flame in the bag… I thought. Turns out I had a draft that, after some beta reading and a lot of soul searching, turned out to be a hot mess that had to be stripped down to the bones and rewritten. Twice.
How was it possible a second novel set in the same world, with most of the same characters, could be harder to write than the novel that made my dream of being published come true? I wondered as I wept bitter tears into my coffee.
Clearly, the same goal would not do. I had to learn how to write a sequel, and a better book. That was the journey of 2017. Also…
Remember the life part? We moved three times in two years. Turns out remembering when the movers arrive and where everything is packed is shit for my ability to focus on world building and character development. So, basically, life happens.
That sequel, Dancer’s Flame came out in early in 2018. I learned so much more about how I work—and procrastinate—and the best way to motivate myself to get work done. I improved my writing with workshops and more workshops and books on craft and putting words on the page—and revising them! Through what feels a bit like divine intervention I made a friend who sees my work as I do and has become the kind of first reader I think most writers dream about. That’s been one of the most important relationships to grow out of this year.
I also re-prioritized my physical health and mental well being. For my writing career to be sustainable, I have to take care of the rest of me. That means more long walks, yoga classes and the HIIT workouts that can give me a little kick of endorphins in seven to fifteen minutes. It means downtime with family and friends. Ironically the thing that keeps me charged up for writing is being away from the screen—reading, watching movies, and having conversations. I’ve got to make sure the well is dug deep enough before I attempt to draw water.
I’ve never been one to set resolutions, but as I look forward to 2019 it’s with all of these things in mind. Do more sustain-ably, and keep being kind enough with myself to know when I need to be rest, not push harder.
One of the most amazing transitions that’s happened is becoming part of a larger community of romance authors, fans and enthusiasts. From consent to trademarks to feminism, I’m proud to be part of a community that is actively engaging in conversations that haven’t always been fun or easy, but have felt necessary and urgent. All creativity is filtered through the mind of the creator, and it’s wonderful to know so many are creating with consideration of the way art impacts not just individual lives but society.
The joy of social media is that writing is no longer as solitary as it once seemed. It’s allowed me to engage with authors I am inspired by, and to learn from ones I may have never had access too otherwise. I’m finding my voice off the page, and that’s exciting too. I look forward to more of the conversations (and the pep talks and the grammar memes) online and in the real world.
What I’ve learned about revising and rewriting has already served me well as I move toward releasing the third book in the Grace Bloods series in April 2019 (No more salty tears spoiling my coffee, huzzah!) In addition, a spinoff trilogy, and an unrelated new series that keeps clamoring for attention no longer feels overwhelming, but with the right planning will keep me happily creating all year and beyond.
I hope to look back at the end of 2019 feeling a measure of mastery—or at least accomplishment—in this next stage of my writing career, but also a sense of more balance in my personal and professional life. And whatever else comes, knowing where I’ve been will help me figure out how to keep going.
Jasmine's latest release, Dancer's Flame, is out now. For more information about her and her writing, check out her website, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.