A Year in Review

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Two days until we put to rest 2022, and I’m currently engaged in a battle with myself, whether or not this was a year of positive net.

It certainly was one of the most interesting ones I’ve survived.

On the bright and beautiful side, I pushed myself farther and to greater heights with my writing than I ever had before. I took chances and got out of my comfort zone, and thank goddess for that. Because those investments in myself and explorations into new experiences led me to some of the best connections I’ve made, the dearest of friends, more published pieces I’ve had in the last five years combined, and a publishing contract with a company I believe in. https://www.5princebooks.com/sarahreichert.html

Not only that, but when I put my fear of rejection aside, and made a deal with my writing bestie (Rebecca Cuthbert) I succeeded in my goal of 100 rejections for the year (along with about 15 acceptances that I’m so grateful for). My work was featured in awesome and quirky journals and sites and some even were accepted in more traditional venues. I co-wrote my first romance with my wonderful friend and mentor Kerrie Flanagan . I learned a lot about myself as a writer, how to manage my time in a busy world, how to write in different genres and formats, and how to shrug off the worry of failure. I learned that I can do things. Hard things. New things. Interesting things. Things I never even imagined. I learned that I can do whatever. I. Set. My. Mind. To.

On the darker side of things, I was, and still am engaging in a battle with my daughter’s worsening OCD. It is a constant in our lives and I am in a cyclical ride of refilling and emptying out my patience levels, trying to find and give to her compassion on the daily, reassurances to the virulent voices in her head that tell her on repeat horrible things will happen if she doesn’t follow its asinine rules. (More Info Here) I have to put aside my own anxieties and depression, I have to square my shoulders and tuck away my own mental strains so that I can be a solid rock for her during this ongoing storm. In turn, these pressures have left me very little space for other people’s bullshit, and maybe that’s a good thing.

I’ve become aware that I no longer tolerate the levels of injustice I used to. I no longer tolerate the levels of disrespect and flagrant wasting of my time that some people think is acceptable. That I’m not going to let assholes go on being assholes without telling them they’re being assholes. And I’ve come across some doozies in the last few months.

Not for the first time, I got a taste of gender imbalance and misogyny in my outside-of-writing-profession. It’s disheartening, especially, when it comes from men in a position of trust who have been my supposed ‘family’ for so long. It reminded me that the imbalance of power in our culture is always in play, no matter how safe you think a business or place is. I watched as a world that was once my sanctuary turned into a dark place where people I once trusted, threw dirt on the grave of my autonomy and denied my worth as a human being.

I’m still battling with if I should stay at my instructor position for the sake of the children and other females in the school. Is their instruction and safety worth more than having to put up with the culture that would allow and overlook frightening behavior and disrespect? Still battling over that one, and I guess if I give myself time to think (as I’m doing this week from social media) I will arrive at the solution that is the best for myself and the people I care about most.

But I have my writing, and I have my friends, and I have people who have stood by me and loved me and shook their fists for me when I just wanted to curl up and die. And that’s not nothing. Years like this teach you who your allies are. And who you should not put your faith or your respect in. They teach you who will stand by your side, and who will throw you under the bus, for their own personal gain. And that knowledge is not nothing either.

So as you look into the new year, I urge you to not forget the lessons you’ve learned. I urge you to write your own story. One worthy of you. I ask that you take leaps of faith, and do things outside of your comfort zone. I ask that you let yourself get rejected and keep moving forward. I ask that you let loose your imposter syndrome and know that you and your art are more than enough to be shared.

In this new year, surround yourself with people who put your safety in mind and value your worth. I urge you to stand up for the friend in need of some fist shaking. I urge you to not put up with anymore bullshit, especially the hateful, uneducated, dehumanizing kind. Use your heads, use your hearts. Build this year, 365 single days at a time, and find something at the end of it that has made you outgrow a little more of the old you.

Choose what to carry, and what to let go. Some things are too heavy, but more than their weight, they don’t belong to you. They are not yours; they serve no purpose to you or to the greater good of the world. They are merely weights that keep you from getting to where you’re meant to be. So know when to let them go, and don’t berate yourself for leaving them behind. Sometimes the absolutely strongest thing we can do, isn’t to keep holding on. It’s in the letting go. So you will have both hands open for the next, better opportunity.

The Beautiful Writers Workshop #9: Mental Floss

My daughter and I recently had an interesting discussion due to a class assignment on mental health concerning OCD, depression, and various other mental challenges. Trying to explain some of the behaviors and levels of severity made me think about my own quirks and habits that can be both positive and bordering on detrimental.

 

Creativity comes with certain mental “flourishes” that often translate into some pretty tortured souls out there, creating brilliant works of art, whether it be through paint, words, sculpture or music. In fact, I think society tends to think one almost must be tortured in some way to create.

I was listening to an interesting podcast with Florence, from Florence and The Machine, and along with her brilliant Scottish accent I was captivated by her story of alcoholism and how she used to think she had to drink to be creative. That she had to suffer, and to be spiraling down to really get to the good stuff of the soul and write music that mattered.

But then she sobered up and realized that it actually got easier to write without the heavy chained idea that suffering is the only way to make meaningful art.

It got me to thinking about how we can turn the chaos inside, into something beautiful by not fearing it. By not suppressing it or numbing it. By accepting the quirk that is you.

It’s like the person with OCD who uses their energies to post-it the hell out of an outline instead of writing “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” five-hundred times.

It’s all about how we use our quirks.

This week’s workshop is about finding your quirk. I don’t just want the strange dance you do when you walk through a spiderweb kind of quirk. I want the chronic kind. The one that makes you desperate for a piece of wood to knock on when the slightest terrifying thought crosses your mind. Or that makes you have to park in the same spot at the grocery store, every time.

Write a bit about your quirk, then go a level deeper and see what comes up. Why do you think you do it? Do you remember when it started? What fear drives it? What desire does it fulfill or captivate inside of you?

How can you shift it to work towards your advantage in your life and in your writing?

If you can’t think of anything, can you use your quirk IN writing as a character trait and follow how it changes your character’s life, behavior, and relationships. Write a poem about it and get past the grizzle and into the bone, or find the ridiculous humor of it to laugh at.

Self-reflection isn’t always easy and we often discover things we didn’t know were hiding in there. You aren’t required to share, but allow yourself to hurdle over the fear and discomfort to know thyself a bit better. Turn your downward spirals into whirlwind of thought and brilliance. See you next week.