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Thoughts on the past year

Hi everyone, as it’s that time of year when many people take a moment of reflection on the past year and think about the future, I thought I’d take a moment to do the same.

Last year was a mix of good and bad. On the personal side, I had a long bout of depression and autistic burnout, had frequent meltdowns and shutdowns, and suffered from intense imposter syndrome regarding my work. But I also learnt a lot about my neurology, began implementing coping strategies to reduce meltdowns and shutdowns (like using ear defenders, sunglasses and fidget toys to help with sensory overload and not doing too many tasks in one day) and celebrated a year and a half with my partner and, in November, actually moved in with him.

I also realised that I’ve achieved an awful lot with my writing, too:

  • I did my first edit of my YA sci-fi, Unsung.
  • I put together my short story collection, When The Bard Came Visiting, which comes out this February.
  • I re-edited my Half-Wizard Thordric trilogy to catch all the continuity errors that had slipped through.
  • I wrote a middle grade fantasy involving time travel.
  • I edited two poetry collections and submitted them to my publisher.
  • I did my first author visit at a school.
  • I did another edit on Unsung, and prepared a query and synopsis for submission to literary agents.
  • I put together a poetry pamphlet and a children’s poetry collection for submission to an independent press.
  • I wrote (and illustrated) a bespoke story that the client had won at a local school fair.

Writing it all down in a list like this gives it a lot of substance that I can’t ignore, because it wasn’t until I started writing this post that it fully hit me how much work I completed. When I think about how unmotivated I felt for most of the year, it’s incredible that I managed to do so much. I suppose it does make sense though, because no matter how hard writing can be, it’s the one thing I’ve always known I’ve wanted to do, and is the way in which I express myself best. I know a lot of the poetry I wrote released a lot of frustration and helped me to accept who I am, and writing fiction let me live an adventure I’d otherwise never know.

For this year, I haven’t made any strict resolutions. I simply intend to keep the same goals I always have: to keep writing, appreciate the small things and (this one is slightly newer) ask for help when I need it. I’m sure there will be times when I get distracted, overwhelmed and stubborn, but as long as it’s not too often, I know that’s all okay.

So, here’s to a new year full of self-care, appreciation for those who support us, and determination for whatever it is that we wish to achieve.

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on the past year”

  1. Wow, so many accomplishments! You must be so proud of yourself, writing so much! And a school visit! I’d love to do one of those one day, but I doubt itll ever happen, haha. As an autistic writer, could I ask you for some help/advice regarding a novel I’m working on? It features a character that may be autistic, largely nonverbal, and who does martial arts. Its fantasy, so there is leeway, but I’m hoping to describe an autistic experience/avoid massive faux pas as much as I can. I’ve tried to do some research about writing autistic characters a while back but hadn’t found anything that really guided me. I do have some friends who are autistic I will try and ask their advice from, but they are undiagnosed and (I think) are on a more mild spectrum of autism (if that’s a thing?). Anyways, please email me at mdaoust245@gmail.com if you’re willing to chat a bit about this! Thanks so much!

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    1. Thanks for your comment. I am proud of myself actually, now that I’ve looked back on everything. Regarding your character, firstly it’s great that your including neurodiverse characters! I’d be happy to answer any questions you have, though the key thing to note is that every autistic person is different, so it’s worth asking a few autistic people their thoughts. My author email is kathrynoftreeshallow (at)gmail (dot)com.

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