Have you heard of the year of yes? It involves saying yes to every opportunity that comes your way. I decided to do that in 2015. I’m sure it paled in comparison to Shondra Rhimes’ year of yes, but we can’t all get away with murder (even if we are mystery writers). My rule for the year was that, when presented with an opportunity related to my writing, I said yes. And because of this, I did thirty-seven in person events, traveled out of state six times, and accepted an invitation to join the board of directors of Sisters in Crime, among other things.
Having a year of yes was great because it guided me. Instead of weighing the pros and cons, turning down events that were hundreds of miles away, and guarding my time like a warden guarding a prisoner, I said yes and figured it out. I met a lot of great people and was reminded that, while writing is a solitary experience, promotion doesn’t have to be. (I also spent more than my meager income anticipated, but hello tax deductions!) (#silverlining)
One of the takeaways of my year of yes was that I connected more with people when I let myself go and was honest. Instead of trying to position myself as someone who had made it, I talked about the rejections that I’d received (137 of them) before deciding to indie publish my first book three years ago. I acknowledged the frustrations that I’d felt after years of querying and not finding an agent. I shared personal stories about my own experiences that went on to inspire my characters: divorce, job dissatisfaction, fear of abandonment, emotional isolation. I didn’t ask people to criticize me but I admitted that I criticized myself. And when I started sharing the stumbling blocks in my journey along with the successes, the entire experience became more fulfilling.
I don’t know if it’s easy for any of us to tell people that we’re writers, especially when we learn to anticipate the ever-popular follow-up question: have you written anything I know? Many of us are faced with critical family members and former romantic partners who don’t understand our need to tell stories or to tell people we’ve written those stories. We’re surrounded by people who can’t accept our willingness to make sacrifices both financial and familial in order to do what we want to do. It’s easy to develop the equivalent of deflector shields, sit at home in our offices and log words day after day, occasionally checking our Facebook feeds and Twitter streams in an effort to connect with the world. But creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum, so it’s necessary for us to get out every once in awhile.
As a Capricorn, I get the double whammy of a new year on the calendar and a new year in my astrological chart. I’m feeling very excited about 2016. It’s a chance to try new things, take new risks, forge new paths, and determine a new future, one filled with possibilities. I encourage everybody to make a change, big or small, that will help you get one step closer to your goals!
Diane Vallere | @dianevallere