As I prepare to put 2011 into the book of Years I’m Done With, I really do want to pause to reflect. This one goes in as the year when I started doing things, instead of just dreaming and talking about doing them. It hasn’t been an easy year. On the contrary, it’s been a year of big, scary changes, but I am ending it in a much happier place. Not everything is quite where I want it, but many of the things I do want are in motion. I feel like a better version of myself than I started the year with, and that would be the most important part. The progress upward in life is really all you can ask, I think.

I’ll start on the downside of things, just because I find it’s better to get these things over with so I can end on a good note. The only really bad thing is, well, getting divorced. After trying to make the relationship work for 6 years and the marriage work for 4 of those years, my now-ex and I have called it quits. I am happy to note that we are doing it before we start hating each other and, after some initial pain, I’ve come to the conclusion that it may be the best thing for me. I will fully admit at this point that I married the wrong person. So did he. Now we can both go off and find the Right Person with each other’s blessings. It won’t be official until later in 2012, but it’s close enough for me.

Now, that said, the divorce and attendant reconsidering of everything in my life has led to pretty much every good thing I want to talk about, so I’m not too sad about even that bad thing. Yes, this means that the latter half of 2011 was better than the first half, but I can live with that. Go out with a bang, right?

For one thing, the biggest thing, this is going down as the year I committed to myself as a writer, to the writing itself really.  A lot of my accomplishments this year are, in fact, writing related.  I participated in National Novel Writing Month for the first time and won (winning is writing at least 50,000 words within the 30 days).  Winning NaNoWriMo comes with no prizes, really, except self-esteem, lessons learned and a major jump in my writing output.  Wait, those are all very real prizes, and ones I needed.  It also seems to have set me on a path where writing is not something I wait for.  I don’t wait for inspiration, or the right words, or the feeling that I can do this.  I go out and do it regardless, I sit down and write, I work on something writing related every day.  I no longer let my brain off with the excuse that it doesn’t feel like writing.  I sit in front of my netbook and start.  And keep going, usually carrying myself unintentionally well beyond any point I had hoped to get to.

I’ve learned so much this year as a writer that it would be hard to encapsulate them all in this post without it becoming excessively long.  Suffice it to say that I feel like I grew a lot and am on my way to at least becoming a publishable author.  Published is a question for another day.

I have, this year, completed now two drafts, beginning to end, for Dark Mirror.  This is a phenomenal achievement for me, as I had never managed to get beyond about 30,000 words on a novel draft before this year without losing the story or my drive or something else vital to getting through it all.  I will be editing the recent version in early January (maybe sooner) then printing it up and sending it out to my two test readers (you know who you are) for comments and then turning my brain over to one of the many other projects that have been trying to distract me from finishing Dark Mirror.  This will serve two purposes.  A) to keep me writing and B) so that I don’t pester my test readers.  They have lives of their own, I’m fully aware of that, but I’m not long on patience when I have enthusiasm instead, they know it and I know it.

There are also signs that this is the year I finally found the process that works for me as a writer (see last paragraph if you really need me to spell out what those signs are), and that is even better than the finished drafts, if you can believe it.  That’s something I have struggled with for years, so it’s welcome.  I’m sure that, in the next few years there will be tweaks, largely for changing technology, but having a functioning core in place is an awesome feeling.

Finally, this is the year that I have let go of my need to be perfect on first draft, to reread and edit as I write the story.  This is the year I gave myself permission to be a human being and understand that writing is very much an iterative process, but that I have to get to the end of a story in order to fix it.  Letting go of the need to be perfect and the fear of not being good enough that went hand in hand with it has done something amazing, it made the ideas and words flow in brain in a way I never expected.  I really do have more ideas simmering right now than I could possibly have time to write, and more show up every day.

I also found out this year that I did actually miss some elements of being single, and am adjusting to my new life better, faster than I expected.  That might be because my head is always stuck in a book lately, either one of mine or something by someone else.  I love living a life of words.

2012 will be the year of more writing.  It will be the year of querying, one way or another.  It may be the year of self-publishing, in electronic form at least, depending on how I feel when I come down off the high of finishing the new draft.  I will be doing NaNoWriMo again, and, if I have something ready at the time, I will probably also do one of the two summer WriMo camps.  I doubt I’ll have stuff ready enough to do both, but I won’t rule it out entirely.

I will, of course, continue posting here about how it goes through the year.  I find amazing the supportive community that exists here on WordPress.  Every comment, every like, every follower is a delight for me.  Thank you all for caring, sharing and for the laughs.  I will see you here in the new year.