As I look back on this year, there is a long list of things to be thankful for. But mostly, I’m not thankful for ‘things,’ as much as I’m thankful for people. This tends to start close to home, with my wife Sarah and son Owen, but it quickly extends to you reading this.
I wouldn’t be able to have the life that I do with Sarah and Owen if it weren’t for you. The person who takes the time out of your busy life to check in on what I am doing, to read my newsletter, to take a course, or to just pass along a kind word. That is — literally — everything to support what I do, and thus, Sarah and Owen.
Earlier this year, I shared the story of working with Miranda Beverly-Whittemore on the launch of her novel Bittersweet. When she and I were negotiating my consulting fee, she had to have talks with her husband to really identify what they could afford. That always drove home how closely our creative pursuits — our business pursuits — are tied to that which matters most to us: our families. Last week, when I mentioned Dannal Newman, a new author crafting his stories, I made a point to notice how he kept mentioning his wife. She is an integral part of his work, even though she will never write a single word of it. Between the words – those spaces – are the people we love supporting our work.
Every writer and creative professional has their version of this. I suppose that you are mine. I ended last year with a blog post The Small Moments, where I reflected on the value of the journey, not the goal:
To value not the diploma, but the process of learning;
Not publication day, but the process of creating and sharing one’s work;
Not receiving an award, but in connecting with readers and fans.
These are inherently the social parts of the process — where you collaborate — and something unique is created in the caring and enthusiasm of the journey.
As I look back on this year via my blog, I consider how each blog post started with a relationship or a conversation, and how they often extended to create new relationships and conversations after I posted them:
- Create Experiences For Your Readers
- The Long Road of Connecting Your Book to Readers
- The Questions To Ask BEFORE Asking “How Do I Sell More Books?”
- I Am Changing How I Use Social Media: MORE Social, LESS Media
- Does Building Your Audience Feel Like Herding Cats?
- Lessons From Redesigning My Website
- Finding Maximum Capacity
- No, Things Were Not Easier “Back in the Day,” and Other Narratives We Cling To In Order To Avoid the Hard Work Of Success
- The Power of Enthusiasm: Should You Create a “Street Team”?
- Empathy, Education, and What It Means To Truly Create a Body Of Work That You Are Proud Of
- The Year-Long Book Launch
- Investing in the Future, While Honoring the Past
- Who Reads Your Work Matters More Than How Many
- How I Am Trying to Create a Book Giveaway Filled With Enthusiasm & Fun, Instead of Spammy Self-Promotion
- Your Life is Not Tetris – Stop Trying to Shove More Stuff Into It
- Don’t Make It Perfect. Just Make It Better.
- How You Fail Determines How You Succeed
- Helping Kids Find Their Voices as Writers
- It is Insane to Write and Publish a Book. There, I Said It.
- Publishing is a Team Sport, With a Singular Black Hole In The Middle
- “New York Times Bestselling Author” (and other things you would like to have permanently attached to your name)
- Taking Control of Your Creative Resources
- Things I’m Learning While Hiring an Intern (or Three)
- What Writers Can Learn From a Restaurateur About Establishing a Closer Connection to Your Audience
- Being Proactive vs Reactive in Crafting and Sharing One’s Voice
- What Are Writers Afraid Of?
- Who Started It All For Your Creative Spirit?
- Preparing for Success (and finding more time to write)
- The Mindless Robots of Social Media “Best Practices”
- How An Email Newsletter Can Help You Engage More Deeply With Your Audience
- Forgoing the “New and Shiny”
- Closing the Gap Between Your Taste & the Quality of Your Craft
- Getting Help: What I Learned in Hiring & Working With Interns
- The Success of Starting
- Two Words to Define Your Career: Custom and Collaborative
- It’s Later Than You Think
- What is Your Creative Capacity?
- I Am Amazed By What These Two Women Created for Our Local Literary Community
- Momentum Sometimes Looks Like Failure
- Overwhelmed: Turning Your Creative Vision Into a Sustainable Career
- Create Experiences For Your Audience
- Launching a Bestseller Without Selling Your Soul
- How to Stand Out on Social Media: CARE
- Q: What Builds Buzz for a Book? A: Craft and Enthusiasm.
- Truly Embracing Your Audience
- I am a grown man, and I take a nap every day.
- Pushing Further
- On Challenging What is Expected, In Order To Create Something Extraordinary
I also shared an essay about my journey to become a creative professional, “On Risk and Writing.”
The result of these posts is not measured in word count, but in connections formed because of them. Much like the way a reader experiences a book, sometimes the connections are internal — to new ideas or new actions. Other times, they are social — they create conversations and relationships.
Thank you for being there for me in any way you did this year, even just taking a moment to read this note. If you were willing, I would love to hear about your journey this year, what are the highlights that stand out when you think back on 2014?
Happy holidays to you and those you love.