In 2016, I told myself I was too busy moving and pitching and hustling and finding jobs and, well, life, to set an intention or pick a word for the year. I spent much of the year feeling quite out of sorts, floating from one random project to another without any real concrete goal. It was like I was having my Saturn Return at age 40 (though that may be the wrong metaphor). I accomplished some big things that were on my list, like quitting caffeine and getting a business credit card, but most of the year felt like I was scrambling to catch up with myself and never got even close.
So this year I decided to set two words, because I'm a hoarder and can never pick just one (actually because they go together) to help guide me in 2017: nest and save. While I love traveling and have a huge list of places I would love to visit before I die, the truth is travel can be very stressful. Most of the time when I travel I am also bringing along the baggage of a giant to do list, which cuts into my ability to relax and enjoy myself. Plus now that I have actual jobs rather than the random cobbled together freelance writing assignments of the past, I don't want to miss any more unpaid days than I have to. I'm missing a few for my book tour because the Best Women's Erotica of the Year series means the world to me and I want to do everything I possibly can to make sure these books reach a wide audience and that I offer the opportunity to do live readings to my authors.
But other than that, I'll be sitting out all conferences and postponing my European vacation to a future date. The other side of the coin is savings. I've listened to every episode of Gaby Dunn's podcast Bad With Money (you can read my interview with her about it at Salon), and felt a deep sense of shame that at 40 (and still at 41), I identify with so much of what she discusses, yet she is in her late twenties and already helping herself climb out of her bad money habits. I heard her say in an early episode that she has $20,000 in the bank and realized that I think I can only say I've had that once, for a brief, lucrative moment.
I'm only starting now, which I fear is too late but I also know that it's the best that I can do. I raised my credit score from around 580 to above 700 last year and intend to keep on raising it. I did accomplish some financial positives last year but I also wasted lots of money on pointless trips and spending that could have been better harnessed saving with a purpose or funneling back into promoting my books. That's not to say I won't spend any money this year, but that I will do so more deliberately and will have the time to plan and assess because I won't be on the go so much. I will have more time, for instance, to actually read all the lovely books I bought during my Boston independent bookstore trip.
I moved in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 and unless an unexpected problem crops up, I will be staying put in 2017, which is great because I love my huge bedroom/office and all the artwork we've decorated with. I want to further get to know my neighbors and neighborhood and my state and focus on self-improvement and my relationship and what's important to me. I want to start volunteering again locally and be able to donate to my favorite nonprofits at the end of this year. Travel is also something I value greatly and I will still see family and hopefully take another trip with my partner, but only after I've met some savings goals first. That's the opposite of the way I've been doing things for my whole adult life, and while I have gotten to visit some wonderful places, now is the time to step up and act like I'm in my forties, rather than someone half my age.
All of my income streams could end any day, and I'm fully aware of that. Jobs come and go, which I know well having been laid off. Book royalties, which were wonderful last year, could dry up, which is why I'm also devoting some time every day toward book promotion. But all of those small tasks that go into the general job of "erotica editor" I can't do to my fullest when I'm on the road. Yes, there's wifi at airports and I do get some things done and have even written pieces I'm very proud of in hotels, but I am far more deliberate and aware of my purpose when I have steadiness and reliability in my routine. I'm someone who drinks out of the exact same coffee mug every morning and actually miss it when I go away.
I don't know exactly how these worlds will play out, but I know as I sit here at my desk listening to the rain fall that I'm grateful to have them as my guiding principles, to help me sort out the kind of life I want for myself rather than feeling like that sense of peace and comfort is always too far for me to grasp.
Labels: word of the year