Ruminating on 2018

As the year comes to a close, it invites reflection. What did I accomplish? What do I regret? How did I grow?

Ruminating on 2018

Accomplishments and Growth

In comparison to 2017, I can honestly say that I’ve been in a much better mental place. I still miss my dad–and I always will–but time and new experiences have offered their salve.

  • Writing, both journaling and the three novels I’ve been readying for release,
  • Drawing, whether little doodles or letter art or sitting down with my sketchpad,
  • Language learning, because Duolingo is awesome (Spanish and Hindi for now)
  • Reading, especially to the munchkins but also some great series I’ve discovered,
  • Gratitude practice, which I can’t recommend highly enough, and
  • Exercising, from HIIT to yoga, barre to Zumba,

These activities have all helped changed my perspective, keep me busy, and bring different kinds of joy. An analogy that really resonated with me was that grief or loss is like a bubble of a fixed size in the ever-expanding bowl of our life experience. As additional bubbles fill the bowl, the loss bubble doesn’t get smaller, but its proportion in comparison to our life experiences starts to shrink. I think we also get used to the new normal of not being able to share the new experiences of life with our lost loved one. Regardless, it still sucks and the strangest moments remind me of my dad, but I don’t want to dissolve into a puddle of helpless tears at every juncture.

The kids are also more independent and conversant, so it’s fun to see the thoughts coming out of their heads and to play games with them that I genuinely enjoy too. Their personalities are so different, and their capacity to learn and to help and to love brings such satisfaction to my lifelong wish to be a mother. Whether cooking with T or folding laundry with D, we find ways to work together productively and teach each other life skills. T’s love for science, D’s for cuddles, and both of theirs for having someone lavish attention on them warms my heart.

Growth as a writer? Not that you’ll notice since I haven’t released anything, but my writing provides better description and pacing than before. I’m conscious of active word choices and I’ve developed a draft-edit-complete method that really works for me. It helped me speed through Book 2 and is going to help me wrap up Book 3 at pace.

Regrets for 2018?

Can one have regrets without having regrets? Because while there are things I would like to have finished (ahem, release Sea Dreams), I do know that the delay will benefit the book’s quality. Finding time to finish the first draft of Book 3, Sea Treasures, has been a struggle despite having taken time off for medical stuff.

After surgery in mid-November to remove what turned out to be a benign liver cyst, it took rather longer than I anticipated to get back on my feet. Work stuff took priority, and then we had family travel plans thereafter. I’ve really tried to be present for the time I spend with the family, to make the best memories I can, so I can’t regret that choice. All of these activities translated to limited writing time in the last quarter of the year, inevitably delaying the release of Book 1.

The delays in the writing also paid off: I found more beta readers who were willing to share their feedback, and the slow pace of my draft have resulted in some quality writing that should (hopefully) require less editing time. I’ve also updated some things in Book 1 to make more sense and add consistency to the series.

Looking Forward

I’ll be discussing resolutions for 2019 in my next post, but obviously the first three books of Sea Deception will be released in 2019.

Previous Posts

2017 2016

So Many Reasons to be Grateful

Happy Thanksgiving! In the midst of autumn, families gather to enjoy a meal together and recount their blessings.

A couple of days ago alumni outreach from my alma mater, The University of Texas at Austin, called me. The senior I chatted with asked me if there was any advice I’d offer someone about to graduate.

Now, I don’t think of myself of an age to offer life advice, but, as we spoke, a pattern from my life emerged.

Give Thanks

CC0: https://pixabay.com/en/thanksgiving-fall-pumpkin-flowers-2903166/

This year I’m reminded of something else to be grateful for: the chances I’ve been given to do something special, something different or unexpected, and how those chances have paid handsome dividends in my life.

Even from simply deciding to go to Austin for my degree, for pursuing engineering instead of something else, the choices I made and the chances I took created unique consequences. If I’d chosen differently, I’d have ended up somewhere else. With a different degree, I’d have worked at some other company for my first job, likely in a different city, and I would have gained entirely different skill sets.

Instead of moving to Houston and accepting a transfer from that first job to Baton Rouge, there’s no telling where I would have ended up or who I would have met along the way. And while moving to a new city can be daunting, moving to a new place after that where you know no one is even scarier. It’s certainly true that it’s harder to make friends after college.

But because of those moves, I made friends and got to expand my world view. As a big city girl, moving to Baton Rouge was extreme culture shock. Then to experience the impact of Hurricane Katrina and the storms that came after… Let’s just say that I now follow hurricane season every year with a greater understanding and concern than if I’d stayed away from the Gulf Coast.

Even the way I write is affected by choices I’ve made. Because I’m an engineer, I like to think about the way things work. If you haven’t checked out my series on Why Engineers Shouldn’t Watch TV, you’ll find that logic and fact are important to telling good stories. So as I build worlds and explore the inexplicable, finding a plausible (if fictitious) reason for why things work the way they do is a way that I make things feel more real even within the realm of fantasy.

Perhaps if I hadn’t studied science and fed my fascination for understanding how to build or fix things, I wouldn’t consider that a lack of magic in Worvanz would lead to infrastructure breakdowns, as in Dark Empire, or the need for mermaids to have highly transmutable cells and the impact of their biology on their lifestyle, as in the Sea Deception series (coming soon!).

The choices I’ve made impact me in much more personal ways, too. I look around the table at my family, at the man I married and the children we share, at the home we live in, the food we eat, the things we choose to discuss and the books we decide to read, and I realize that all of these small choices add up to build who we are as people. Anytime we go a different path, the effect of that choice may be profound.

And today, as I think about the season of Thanksgiving, I am especially grateful that I have no regrets about the way life is turning out for me. I’m blessed with a family to love, with friends, with a home and a career, and a passion for storytelling that fuels my soul.

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Previous years: 2017 2016  2015  2013