The decade ends in a little less than two weeks, an arbitrary endpoint to an extraordinary time. I went from being afraid I would never figure out what I Wanted To Be When I Grew Up (TM) to being exactly where I’ve always wanted to be – with sufficient wiggle room for growth.
It was, of course, not nearly as neat nor straight a path as that sounds. While I did set the intent at the beginning of the decade to take this whole writing thing seriously, there was rarely a point where I was confident that would bring me any closer to my dream.
Instead I got really good about keeping my head down and focusing on doing the next thing, despite rejections and discouragement, despite my own self-doubt. I got so good at it that I was already mentally closing up shop on my queries for The Impossible Contract and getting ready to move on to the next thing when my agent Kurestin offered representation.
And look where that’s brought us: closing out the decade with two published books and a third on the horizon.
This decade has been A Lot, as has this year. There are a multitude of lessons to be learned, that were learned, but I think the biggest is this:
You’re on your own path.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the endless possibilities of existence, to try and suss out a way forward before you’ve even taken your first step, to look at the journeys of others and figure out how best to mirror their success.
But success isn’t that easy, or that straight-forward. A whole lot of it, in fact, is just putting one foot in front of the other and seeing where that takes you. If you’d asked me at the beginning of this decade where I thought I’d be by the end, I couldn’t have given you an answer. I certainly would never have guessed here, living in Michigan, a published author with a wife, a Toddler, and two cats.
I’m not even sure I would have chosen all that, had it been presented to me back then. But I’m glad I’m here, now, and I couldn’t imagine it a different way. Because this journey hasn’t looked a whole lot like I imagined, nor a whole lot like the journeys of others, but it’s been mine the whole time.
Now I suppose it’s that time in the blogpost to get all reflective-y, to think back on all the highs and lows of the last decade. But you know what – we’ve had enough lows to last us another decade. I want to leave this decade focusing on the highs – those are what drive us forward, after all.
2010 started in Seattle and 2019 will end in Michigan. Two snowy, cloudy places that couldn’t have less in common. And in between: Arizona.
There was a lot to love this decade. I could go on for pages, but instead: an abbreviated list.
– Moving to Arizona. I wasn’t so sure about such a dry, seemingly empty place at the time, but I would never have made some amazing friends if we hadn’t, would never have dreamed of writing these books if we’d gone literally anywhere else.
– Getting gay married. I never thought this would be legal in our lifetimes, let alone within a few years of our ceremony. But hey! Not everyone can say they married the same person twice. And it truly has been a refreshingly normalizing experience.
– Hiking Hadrian’s Wall. A subset of getting married, as this was our honeymoon, but it was also an Experience with a capital ‘E’. We walked through rain and fog and cold and heat and up and down hills and through thistles and thirst and with shoes that pinched then hurt then flat-out made each step agony – but we made it from one side of England to the other and it was worth every step of it.
– Learning property assessment. I don’t often talk about my dayjobs on here, but I’ve had a few and they’ve been quite… varied… and I don’t regret any of them (except maybe that one, but we don’t talk about that one). I’ve learned something from all of them, but learning about property assessment and records has been the oddball gift that keeps on giving. Who knew property title could be so interesting and useful! Not me!
– Keeping chickens. Self explanatory. Did you know those tiny dinosaurs are both adorable and vicious?
– Biking to work. I learned the joys of living in a truly bike-friendly city, as well as the joys of freezing your water bottle and having it fully melt – and get hot – before you completed your 20min ride home. Arizona summers: not joking around.
– Baking cookies in the car. Again: Arizona summers.
– Discovering the joy of weightlifting. Exercise sucks. It just does. But weightlifting isn’t exercise. It’s whole purpose is to get strong and
beat up out-lift your enemies. I can get behind that.
– Making friends. In Seattle. In Tucson. In Michigan. In the writing community and beyond. I’ve found so many wonderful, amazing, kindhearted people who have made my life richer in their own, unique ways and I am thankful for all of them.
– Getting published. There have been a lot of highs and lows with getting published – the ultimate of emotional rollercoasters – but as something I’ve been wanting and working toward for as long as I knew publishing a book was a Thing, it only makes sense that achieving that thing would be full of emotion, as well as conflict as the expectations built up over decades finally clashed with reality. But in the end, reality is pretty great, and having readers who not only get what I wrote, but are equally excited by it, has been the best fulfillment of my dream.
– Having a kid. Wow. Talk about an emotional rollercoaster. This deserves its own blogpost, but suffice to say that this was the best decision of the decade, hands down.
That was the 2010’s. Sitting just shy of 2020, I have no idea what to expect – but that’s kind of the point. We can only keep going down this path of ours, enjoying the journey along the way.
So here’s to another decade of the unexpected, of fulfilled dreams and fresh ones dreamt, of a path that is solely, genuinely, only our own.
Happy new year. Happy new decade. ❤