A Progress Report
It’s the end of February 2022 and a new season is coming. I’m referring to more than the annual change of seasons. It’s a new season personally and a new season world-wide. First, a reminder for those who are new to my progress reports.
Instead of goals or resolutions, I use intentions. You can miss a goal. You probably break most resolutions. But an intention is a focus. When life gets in the way of your plan, take care of that event or disturbance intending to return to your primary plan. Every morning begins with a renewed intention. For more information about intentions read “The Indie Author’s Three Hats.”
The making area was pretty neglected this month. I spent less than a third of my work time working on stories or blog posts. Instead of starting the outline for the next book in the series, I took a much needed break. But never fear, I also jotted down the many ideas that I will use in And When I Wake.
I published all but one planned blog post this month.
At the end of this month, I received my editor’s notes on If I Should Die. Commas and hyphens are my downfall, but she loved the book. YAY!
At sixty-eight percent of my total work time, managing the office and education took a big chunk of February. I’m tweaking the website, making it function better. I finally found some the hidden buttons in the theme. (Really? Was it too hard to clarify where to change the color of titles? SIGH.)
I’m continuing to clean out my office in preparation for remodeling my work space. I’ve got one more piece of furniture to arrive then I’ll have all the parts I need.
Learning on multiple fronts is blowing my mind. I’m learning to use Mailerlite, about marketing on various online sites, and I’m learning about author branding. Yup. Brain overload warnings are flashing!
I had a huge SNAFU with my online payment for this year’s 20 Books Vegas conference that took several weeks to iron out. Thank goodness, it has been resolved.
Another SNAFU involved software I purchased to download on my computer. The vender told me I had already downloaded it when I had not. It took multiple emails and phone calls to the store and the vender, but that too has finally been solved.
I placed learning about my business belonged in the larger bucket of Managing. So I spent less than five percent of my time on activities in the marketing “bucket” during February.
Right now, home looks like someone doesn’t know if she is moving in or moving out. There are boxes of books and electronic equipment in every room. Multiple boxes clog some rooms.
Don’t ask me where a specific book is. I might get the room right, but it’ll take a day or two to find the box that holds that one book.
Of course in the middle of all of this, my overhead light (the only light) in the kitchen go dark. I ordered and then changed the light bulbs. No joy. The light itself has failed. It’s old. It was bound to happen sooner or later. I would have preferred later, but that’s life. A new light was ordered and has arrived. Now I must wait for my son to have a day off so he can install the new lights. (There will be more than one in there soon!) In the meantime, thanks to a friend’s suggestion, I placed a temporary lamp in the kitchen so I can see to cook dinners.
My biggest personal event in February was the first anniversary of my dear husband’s death. I knew that would be hard. Planned for it to be hard. And it was. But I was able to go out to one of his favorite restaurants with the rest of the family. We had a delicious meal and remembered him with love.
If you follow me on Facebook, you know that Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine was upsetting. Miblart, the company that I hired to do the latest covers for the Fellowship Dystopia series, is based in Ukraine. I’ve grown fond of several people there while working together on those covers. I am worried for their safety. Please send good energy, donate if you can, pray for peace and their safety in whatever language or religion that means something to you. Thank you.
The big item for March is the next to last edit of If I Should Die. Once that’s finished, the book will go to my advanced reading team and to my proofreader.
I’ll continue my efforts to understand how to serve my readers better. My marketing education is a long range effort so that will be ongoing for the rest of the year.
After all the books and bookcases are removed from my office, I have a wall to repair. It will take another couple of months before the remodel of my office is finished.
What I Learned in February
In addition to the stuff I’ve learned about branding and advertising, I’ve learned more about personal loss than I ever wanted to know. As a nurse, I’ve stood beside the dying and their loved ones as an involved and empathetic caregiver. I knew their experience of their loved one’s death was many degrees different than mine. In this past year I’ve learned in a personal way that education, empathy, and sympathy are not the same as experience.
I thought I understood the experience of being “other.” I have learned that my otherness came from the inside which is bad enough, but it’s not the same.
There have been a few times in my life when I knew that my very pale skin color made me “other,” where people around me saw me, defined me, as “different.” This only happened because I traveled away from my home.
I have been afraid for my life before when I strayed into a place of danger. I have never lived in a place of constant danger.
As a woman, I have chosen my clothing with care for fear that my looks might invite unwanted and violent attention. It’s close, but it’s not the same as not being able to put the hood of your hoodie over your head for fear of being killed for “looking suspicious.”
There is a huge difference between my life and my Hispanic daughter-in-law’s life, the lives of my grandchildren, and many, many others whose skin color isn’t white-enough. Huge.
My empathy and support are tiny in the face of the discrimination people of color face, but I am here. I will do what I can.
I have felt a tiny, tiny piece of the fear of invasion of my homeland. I lived too far from New York City and the Pentagon to feel the fear on a more personal level. I watched in fear. I worried about friends and family in the area. But it’s not the same as watching invaders drive their tanks down your street, or bomb your neighbor’s homeor bomb your own home.
I don’t say these things lightly. From the loss of my husband, to my fear of wearing the wrong clothes, to my fear for my country…all of those were and remain significant in my life. Neither your nor my losses and fears are lesser than the fear or loss anyone else has experienced. And yet…
Some of us are lost. Some of us are floundering. Some of us have closed our eyes, our ears, and our hearts to the suffering of others. They deny that such suffering exists. Sometimes they deny “others” capable of feeling. Often, the deniers have the loudest voices. And that can be scary to the ones with softer voices and hearts.
If we cannot learn from those fears and losses, if we cannot empathize with fear and losses across the street or across the globe despite our differences, then we—the human race—are lost.
Am I saying we humans are lost? No. As long as some of us fight the deniers, we are not lost.
It takes a special kind of courage to keep our eyes, our ears, and our hearts open. Fortunately, there are a lot of you out there who have done that. You are making a difference because of your determination and strength and courage. Some make a difference with a whisper. Some make a difference with a shout.
While our eyes are on the Ukraine right now, and their crisis seems the most threatening right now (at least to many), theirs is not the only crisis in your neighborhood, your city, your state or region, or your nation. Theirs is not the only crisis in the nation next door or across world. No matter which crisis you face or choose to address, no matter how loud or how quiet, know that you make a difference.
It takes courage and determination and strength to keep going in the face of fear, in the face of loss. Thank you and God bless those of you who keep going with your eyes, ears, and hearts open and ready to lend a healing word or thought or a helping hand. And God bless the brave, the fearful, the loud, and the quiet voices of support and resistance in the Ukraine and across the world.
I have felt small, insignificant in the face of discrimination and the suffering of others, especially in the light of the war waged on Ukranians.
What lesson have I learned? I’ve received flowers, and words of comfort, and a warm touch (actual and virtual). I know that the smallest flower, the softest word of comfort, and the smallest hand offered in a time of need, does help.
I have learned that a story read by the right person at the right time can do more than thousands of angry voices and raised fists. Sometime that one person will become a hero to one or many.
I’ve learned that though I can do little, the little I can do will help someone. If each of us do the same, if each of us helps one person, it will make a world of difference.
A New Season is Coming
Looking forward may be difficult, but a new season is coming (Spring for the northern hemisphere, Fall for those in the south) and will come no matter how the crisis in the Ukraine works out.
I am moving into a new season in my career and my personal life. It’s an unsettling time, but change always is. In the meantime, I hope to spread make a difference, one small flower, one soft word, and one warm touch at a time.
How will you make a difference?