Changes & my Focus for 2018

Hello and welcome to the New Year!

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. I know mine was. I spent a few hours each day reading with my girls, writing a book with my eldest daughter, playing games with my lovely family, watching TV with hubby, and creating several handcrafted items to stock my handcrafted shop (more about this later).

Now that the new year is finally here, I’m both excited and a little apprehensive. I’m excited because so many things in my life have changed and there is more that I plan to change before I’m done. I’m excited because in many ways I’m starting over and doing something new, which is also why I’m apprehensive. Doing something new can be scary, especially for someone who wants everything to work out perfectly the first time around, and starting over doesn’t mean that it will work any better this time around then it did the last time. I’m apprehensive because I don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past, and because as much as I love a challenge and taking risks, I don’t want to fail.

Yes, I know that failure is full of opportunities to learn, to move forward, to start over, and to make changes, but it can be a painful process.

I spent most of 2017 re-evaluating of my life and my writing career. And I’ve finally had to admit to myself that I failed at my writing career, and that I failed spectacularly well.

YAY me! LOL

I was once told hat I’m a doggedly determined person, and at the time I thought that was a good thing and it can be. But I’ve also come to realize that being doggedly determined can be a bad thing. In the situation I found myself in, it was a really bad thing because I pushed forward well past the point that I should have quit, when most people do quit.

The last few years writing has become a daily struggle and more times than not I failed at the goals I gave myself, not because I couldn’t reach them, but because something in me resisted. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that I’d become so focused on my writing career that I never stopped to ask myself if I wanted the life that I was creating for myself? I never stopped to ask myself if I was enjoying what I was doing and how I was doing it? I never stopped to ask myself if I still loved writing?

The answer to those questions is no, no, and sort of.

Everything I’ve done since I published that first book 8 years ago has brought me to this point. And it was time that I took a long, hard look at the life I had created and change what I didn’t like about it.

What I realized this years was I hate my writing career. I hate all the little things I’ve done to gain even a small measure of success. I hate what I’ve had to sacrifice because I thought it would make me successful. I hate that somewhere along the way I’ve lost sight of all my other dreams. I hate that I lost that spark that started me writing in the first place.

Now don’t panic, for those who love my writing, I’m not quitting altogether. Not writing is not an option for me. You see, writing is in my blood. Even when I try to take a break from it, it creeps into my subconscious mind and eventually my fingers will itch to write. If this year has taught me anything, it’s that even contemplating not writing doesn’t feel right.

What I should have quit is how I went about creating my writing career. What I should have quit was the thinking that writing had to be everything for me. Writing isn’t the only thing I love.

So now I’m doing what I should have done years ago. I’m taking a break from writing and doing something else. I’m giving myself that time to healing the damage done to my poor writer-self so when the time is right I can rebuild a writing career that I can be proud to claim as mine. A career that I can manage with everything going on in my life. A career that allows me to to do all the things I love while still spending time with my family. Because nothing is more important to me then my hubby and daughters.

Note: Two articles had a big impact on my decision about my writing this year: Business Musings: Burn Out & the Indie Writer (outside link) and Business Musings: Quitting (outside link ). Both were written by Kristine Kathryn Rusch and I’d like to thank her for all the articles she writes as they are always helpful, even if I don’t realize it until 7 years later (I’m talking about another article by her that I read years ago and which finally made sense to me now but I was unable to find to post here.).  While they are written for authors, some of the points she makes in the articles can relate to anyone in any career. At least my 11-year-old daughter seemed to think so when I read it to her.


My Year in Review

Much of what I did this year is balanced with living my life, spending time with my family (this has become my #1 priority), and working with Hubby on the Ranch (this is my #2 priority in life). So while it might appear that I’m not getting a lot done during the months, there is a lot of personal stuff going on behind the scenes that isn’t mentioned here.

January – June: Writing

I wish I could say that I got more accomplished in this six month period, but my writing took a sharp downward decline around February and by June it had gotten so bad that I finally stopped writing anything. I can honestly say that everything I tried writing this year stalled out within a few days and nothing went as planned.

July – August: Woodworking + Crocheting

I spent much of the Summer assessing my writing career and realizing just how much I hated it. Since I’m not one to sit still, I threw myself into other projects I’ve neglected over the years, mostly craft items.

This year I decided to return to wood working. This is something I’ve been teaching myself every Summer for the last 2 years. This year I cut several wooden disks from a large cedar branch that we cut away from the house. The wood grain was so beautiful that I wanted to make several coasters from the wood.

During the drying process, the wood split, ruining any chance of using it the way I wanted to. I guess I’m going to have to do a little more research on drying wood so that I can try again on the next branch that we have to cut down.

Rather then toss the wooden pieces, I pulled out my Dremel tool and created several pieces of jewelry. It wasn’t just fun but I learned a lot about shaping the wood. At this time the pieces are unfinished. I plan to make a trip to a friend’s house to use his belt sander and find the best way to treat the wood.

I wish the red grain of the cedar came out better in the picture so you could see the rich red and red-purple of the cedar. Maybe once I varnish them it will help, or maybe I should have brought them outside to photography in natural light. 😀

My other project was crocheted covers for the back and arms of our new couch. This is practice for an afghan that I will shortly be making for Hubby. He loved the pattern. 😀

September: Craft Shop + Book Cover Design

I was also contacted by two lovely authors that I’ve worked with in the past (Ruth Ann Nordin and Janet Syas Nitsick (outside links)) and asked if I could design their book covers. I believe they turned out beautifully. What do you think?

After a suggestion from a friend that I should start selling my excess handcrafted items, due to this tendency I have to love an idea so much that I create it without thought to what I’m going to do with it when I’m done (like with the scrubby dishcloths that I created. I’m pretty sure that it would take me years to use the ones I made), I have been looking into opening a small online shop.

I started by doing a little research on how to sell crafts, where to sell them, and creating a website for my shop. What I found was oodles of information on running a craft business, but very little about the hobby crafter who just wants to sell a few things. As much as I love creating things, I really don’t want to run a craft business. For the foreseeable future, running any business is off the table.

October: Websites & a New Planner

I started creating a website for my book cover design services, as this was something I have been thinking of returning to for months. But it didn’t take me long to realize that I was falling into an old trap of mine. If the past has taught me anything, it’s that I can’t manage several websites and blogs along with everything else in my life. It only leads to stress and burnout.

Since the book cover design and handmade crafts would be hobbies and not businesses, they don’t need different websites. So I scrapped all the websites and placed all three of my loves in one place. I guess if someone has a problem with how I’m doing this, it’s not my problem.

I also released my new planner for 2018, about a month later than planned. The 2018 Writer’s Planner is a different take on planners and is more for the weekly planner then the daily planner. You can read more about this planner here (opens in a new window).

November: Gathering Crafts

After scouring the house for the craft projects that I’ve created over the years and haven’t used, I came up with a good-sized pile. It kinda surprised me at how many things I had lying around the house and didn’t know it.

I tried my hand at crocheted placemats for the craft shop in November, but loved them so much I decided to keep them. The left one belongs to my oldest daughter, the right one to my hubby, the middle one was mine, and the orange one for my youngest is in the wash. I have plans to make more of the tan ones because I love the look of them.

I made a few craft purchases this month, added a few more projects to work on, and started creating more items. By the time this posts I hope to have a few more items on my list.

December: Sold Out & Writing Again

I contemplated opening the Handcraft Shop for Christmas, but tossed the idea out because I’m nowhere close to ready and  a friend (the same one who suggested the store in the first place) ask me what I had for handcrafted gifts for Christmas. I gave her my inventory list and she bought almost all of it. The only item she didn’t want was the Lacy Pink Infinity Wrap, and only because it was pink and her relative doesn’t like pink.

Crocheted Lacy Pink Infinity Wrap

 

About the end of December, I was came to a few conclusions: 1) if I do open a handcrafted shop it will be to support my crafting habit, but it’s not looking promising, 2) while I felt the writing itch again, it couldn’t sustain my interest for long, and 3) I need time to find my passion again and heal from creative burn out.


Things I’m Focusing On for 2018

Crochet Scarves & Hoods

I have a few skeins of yarn that I bought years ago for a baby blanket that I never made because relatives sent me more blankets than I could possibly use or store. I boxed the yarn away and waited until I found a project to use them with. The other day I pulled them out and decided that a heart pattern would work with the hot pink yarn.

This is my current work-in-progress, a heart infinity scarf.

I also bought several skeins of gorgeous yarn on sale a couple of weeks ago that I thought would work up beautifully into scarves and hoods. The hardest part will be picking out the right pattern for each color. 😀

Status: In-Progress

Scrubby Washcloths

These cloths are of my only design and at 4″x4″ they are perfect for my smaller hands (I wear kid’s large or women’s small gloves). I love these cloths and I have requests for more. I guess I’m not the only one who isn’t a fan of huge washcloths for dish washing.

Since all the 10 sets I made are now gone (either given as gifts or sold) and I still have some leftover cotton and scrubby yarn, I plan to make some more and sell them in sets of 3. My grandma is a big fan of using these on her skin. She loves the feel of her skin after using one. Silky smooth. 😀

Come in three colors or a set of three. One side is soft and the other side is scrubby.

Status: Waiting to be done

Beanies for Babies/Kids & Cocoons for Infants

My girls bought me a loom set for Christmas and I’ve been trying my hand at loom knitting. Something I’ve wanted to try again for years. With the birth of a second grandbaby, I want to make beanies and cocoons for the little ones.

Status: In-Progress.

Website + Blog

There are some more things I need to fix on this website and pages that need to be posted or created, although not right at this moment. I’m also looking into how I want to do the blog, because while I’m no longer writing this blog for business, I really don’t want to abandon it. So I’m rethinking my focus and what I’ll be writing about here. I guess you could say that I won’t be abandoning writing at all.

Status: Research and development stage

Book Design Services & Returning Clients

I have a few more to-dos on my list, but for the most part I’m ready to start working on book designs again. While I’ve been looking into some places to post my services, I think for the time being I’ll just stick to posting them on my website and  working with returning clients.

Sometime this year, I will be designing the covers for two different returning client of mine. The first wants to redo her older book covers and have new covers created for her books coming out. The second wants to redo the cover and formatting for an older book and possibly a new one.

Status: Mostly in-progress, but some things are on hold until I have further details

Writing the Sara Greenway Book (Series)

As my oldest daughter has been asking me to write a book for her for the last two years now, I’m going to try to focus on writing this book/series. This is a story that we’ve been working on together and that I’m writing under a “pen name” because of the stuff I mentioned in this post.

Okay, so it’s not really a pen name. I decided that rather than writing under pen names (it goes back to what I can and can’t manage), I’m going to use a shorter version of Stephannie. So my YA books will go under Steph Beman and everything else will go under Stephannie Beman.

Since most kids I know aren’t interested in reading huge tomes, despite what the publishers put onto shelves, I promised my daughter that we would keep each book around 30,000 words. I’m not sure at this point how many books will be in the series and when I will actually get them done, but they are on my list of things to focus on.

Status: In-progress

Children of Khaos Series

While I’ve been debating a complete overhaul of the series and the possibility of more stories under this series, in the end I decided not to. Mostly because it will create significant changes that will anger the readers who love them the way they are. And yes, I’m talking to you mom. 😀

As My Lord Hades and Death’s Lover are basically ready and other then being proofread for mistakes, haven’t changed, they will be the first ones I release. Loving the Goddess of Love needs a little more work. I will be adding a few extra scenes before sending it to my favorite proofreader, change the title, and update the cover before I send it out.

After that, the plan is to write Beloved Kora to end the series. I know there are a lot of people who loved this series, but I don’t have the passion to write any more on it for the time being.

Status: In-Progress

2019 Planners

Sometime this year I will publish two blank planners that can be bought anytime during the year and be used throughout the year. I will no longer make the dated ones as I’m spending too much time doing it without enough reward for the effort.

Status: Haven’t started yet


Conclusion

I know that this looks like a huge list, but some things are already in-progress, others are almost done, a few haven’t even been started but they’re smaller projects that I can stick into the nooks and crannies of my day, and some aren’t too important to finish. Also I work in waves. Most of my writing and design work is done during the winter months while most of the crafting is done turning the warm months.

Thank you all for your patience. I love you guys.

Wishing you all the best this year,

7 thoughts on “Changes & my Focus for 2018

  1. I’m late commenting, but I’ve had so much going on that I wanted to make sure I could sit down at the computer instead of trying to do this on my phone. LOL

    Sometimes we have to make decisions even when we don’t really want to. Your decision to focus on crafts, book covers, etc. instead of so much on the writing is kind of like me focusing on proofreading and formatting. But, like you, I don’t intend to stop writing. But we need to do what’s right for us at the time.

    I’m glad you mentioned crocheting because I’ve thought about learning that so I’ll have something relaxing to do while I sit with my mom at the nursing home at night (when I don’t have editing jobs or writing to do). I’ve read a lot about knitting vs crocheting, and what I was seeing was that crocheting might be a tad easier, but there wasn’t as big a variety of stitches to make things look different. But I’m seeing some of your crocheted stuff, and I see variety. So I’m thinking of going back to it since I did crochet when I was a young adult. A friend of mine made me some knitted wash clothes, but I see they can also be crocheted. 🙂 Maybe I can learn to make something besides a granny square….

    I have to confess, I didn’t buy the planner this year. I barely touched mine last year, but it was because I was so unorganized and discouraged about writing; But it’s barely into January, so I might just get one anyway and try to discipline myself to actually USE it. I did recommend it to someone this year.

    I hope 2018 will be productive and profitable AND enjoyable for both of us!

    Like

    • As they say, “better late then never”. LOL I prefer my laptop to the phone too. Whenever I use the phone my comments come out short or wrong. Once I was even asked if I was angry.

      I’ve learned over the years that sometimes the things we thought to be the worst moments in our lives turn out to be the blessing that shape us and sometimes give us another path to walk. Sometimes that path calls for change and we find ourselves doing things that better align with who we are or what we want out of life. But that doesn’t mean change is easy. 😀

      I always found crocheting easier then knitting. Something about my hands and two needles just doesn’t work right despite all my mom’s best intentions to teach me. But I do love the look of knitting, which really only has two stitches (knit and purl) that are mixed up to give a pattern texture, so for Christmas my daughters got me a knitting loom (http://www.redheart.com/learn/articles/introduction-loom-knitting) and a book on loom knitting stitches. I’ve really been enjoying it and even teaching my girls to use it.

      If you want, I have a book on How to Crochet that I don’t need anymore that I could send you.

      Thank you for your recommendation of my planner to others. I hope it helps them.

      Since you confessed, I will to. I didn’t buy one this year and I didn’t use mine much last year either. 😀 I didn’t use it because I find the size to be too big for me and it’s impossible to carry in my bag. Also I would write down what I wanted to get done and get nothing on the list done. I found making a daily to-do list each morning is easier because I can rip it out and make another if plans change.

      I’ve been thinking I might make a smaller planner for people like me who carry it with them and maybe a blank one that might be more helpful for people who want to fill in their days as they need it. Maybe one day I’ll make printables where people can download the pages they want and build their own planner. I hear that office supply places will print and bind it for cheaper then I can sell it for.

      Thank you for the well wishes. I hope this year will be productive, profitable, and enjoyable for you, your mother, and me. Good luck!

      Like

      • I went ahead and bought the planner. 🙂 I know Ruth uses hers a lot, and I know it would be useful to me if I would discipline myself to use it this year.

        I would love to have that crochet book if you’re sure you won’t be using it anymore.

        Liked by 1 person

        • She does and I love the way she uses it too. She sent me some pictures so I could see what she was doing. I love the feedback that I get from those who do buy it so I can make it more user friendly for writers and even freelancers.

          I won’t be using the crochet book and would be more than happy to send it to you. It’s a book that came in a crochet kit that I got my daughters for Christmas so they had their own supplies. It’s a basics “how to” book and they are far too young to have the patience or the understanding of the explanations in the book. They seem to learn better by seeing me show them so they won’t need the book. I’ll contact you through your contact page on where you would like me to send the book.

          Like

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