Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! May 2020 be an absolutely wonderful and blessed year for you!

Looking back at 2019

When I look back at 2019, I can really see that I put too much pressure on myself to keep doing more and more (which inevitably led to burnout and me barely writing since September).

This is also why NaNoWriMo was a flop — I’d thought that after being booked off for two weeks I could just go back to a hectic schedule like nothing happened… yeah, that didn’t happen. Especially since that’s the time we start working on the Christmas magazine issues and we need to do almost double the amount of work we usually do. Oops.

I realised that I actually needed to take a proper step back and rest instead of acting like my body and mind wasn’t protesting every day.

It wasn’t all gloom and doom, but the year was very challenging. I learned a lot, though, and grew a lot as well, I think. The year ended on a high note, however.

The publishing company I work for (my day job as copywriter), closed between Christmas and New Year, so I had a few days to spend either with friends and family or simply doing nothing. Or at least my idea of nothing, which includes things like crochet.

It did give me some perspective on just how worn out I’d become and that I still needed to take it relatively slow. I did get some time to make plans for 2020 as well, though.

I am still very much in the middle of trying to find balance between all my commitments, but, hopefully, this will be the year in which I get a lot better at it.

Looking forward to 2020

During this year, I want to focus my energy on The Ruon Chronicles and on Medium articles. I may still do flash pieces here and there, but I’m not going to push myself to do X amount of flash pieces per week or month.

2019’s Jozi Flash still needs to be written (deadline is 31 January as we’ve all had an extremely rough year).

I also want to read more — and I’ve told myself that I won’t buy another book until I’m at least halfway through my to-be-read mountain.

In other news, I may also take part in Club 119 from January to May. More on that later, though.

Looking at my social media use, I really want to curate better where I spend time on social media. And I’m going to try my utmost best not to read comments on YouTube videos or follow the never ending fights on Twitter.

I mean, there are fights worth fighting, but mostly it seems to be idiots shouting at each other and being vile. And… well, I really don’t need that in my life. It’s so easy to get sucked into a whirlpool of negativity!

I’ll be spending more time on Instagram, probably, as it’s a lot more curated at the moment than my Twitter feed, which is news, hobbies, and, well, basically everything mushed into one.

I need to take a day during January and just rip my Twitter apart at the seams. Like my sister, I’m then making one stream with news, etc. and one with content that won’t make me want to crawl into a hole and stay there forever.

I also haven’t actually been on Facebook the whole of the vacation and up to today. I just needed to cut myself off from that as well for a bit!

Some of my 2020 goals

During 2020 I want to document more as I often forget to. But, don’t worry, that doesn’t mean that I’ll be taking and posting a photo of every sandwich of 2020!

But I’d like to have some photos of when I hang out with friends and family. For example, I completely forgot (okay, we all did) to take a photo of the family on Christmas. Another oops.

On one hand, selfcare is really a large part of where my focus should be this year. Or at least not being so hard on myself that I burn out again. It’s putting less pressure on myself to Do All The Things.

I really need to start celebrating the small things in life as well and not rushing through everything. Towards the end of 2019 I think I got a lot better at it, but during most of the year I was just rushing, rushing, rushing and not really paying attention to much.

That is one reason why I celebrated JRR Tolkien’s birthday anniversary on 3 January (and actually took some photos!).

Okay, so you may be wondering what on earth Club 119 is. Well, it’s a kind of Bible study group hosted by Elyssa Nalani. The goal is to read through the first five books of the Bible in 5 months, starting with Genesis today (6 January). I doubt I’ll take part in the Facebook Group and stuff, at least at first as I have found that I get sucked into these groups quickly and it really becomes a timesuck.

I actually found Elyssa’s YouTube channel while watching Thomas Frank’s channel and I really like it. (For once the algorithm did it’s job right!)

Changes to the blog and website

You may have noticed that I changed the appearance of the blog again at the end of last year. The main reason for this is that I’m still trying to get it to look like the idea of it I have in my head, but also because I have now consolidated Hersenskim and Trebles On My Mind into one blog (still called Hersenskim because I just love the word).

I figured that, since my hobbies make up a large part of my writing — for example in The Ruon Chronicles — I might as well keep everything in one place rather than trying to keep two blogs afloat.

Lastly, a Vlogbrothers video by Hank Green that really made me think about my own “channels”

The newest Vlogbrothers video deals a lot with the influence of Vlogbrothers and the size of their audience and how they’re not really trying to grow the channel per se. Watch it rather, he makes more sense than me.

What really struck me, was that it was something that I’d struggled with a lot during the past year as well. There is so much pressure to “build your brand”, “grow your audience”, “build your email list by 10 000 subscribers” and stuff like that.

And I realised that I was really worrying too much about building an audience and a following than simply being myself and letting things just develop. With the strain of the past few months, I also realised that I don’t need to put such pressure on myself.

I’m not going to turn into a six-figure author overnight, especially not if I spend so much time ruminating and worrying that my work won’t have mass-appeal and not actually writing and working on the Ruon series. The whole reason why I want to do this the Indie way is that I want to write the epic that I want to write, and not have to “write to market” and stuff like that.

I mean, of course I want people to read the books and like them, but I don’t want to suddenly have to turn them into The Next Game of Thrones or something like that. If that makes sense.

I’ve also looked at the awesome work that Radical Face has been doing as an indie musician. It’s definitely not projects that the large companies will think of as a good idea (money-wise), but his music has been an inspiration to me and thousands of others.

That is actually what finally made me decide to self-publish The Ruon Chronicles. It’s not that it wouldn’t be awesome to see my books on a shelf in the local store, it’s that I don’t want to have to change everything about the story to be seen as a “product” that can be mass sold.

And, in the end, I think that this is what has taken a lot of pressure off my shoulders as well.

Well, after all that rambling, that’s it from me today! Have a great week!

By Carin Marais

Bibliophile, writer of speculative fiction, non-fiction, and maybe-fiction, language practitioner, doer of stuff.

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