End of Year

I plan life to be smooth, if curved, and sensical. Like this:

I prepare for a life far more messy and nonlinear.

Often, my life resembles the second wire spool: knotted, circling back on itself, with periods of thick and periods stretched thin. The year of our Lord two thousand nineteen has been no different. Instead of feeling as though I’ve ventured from A to B, I feel more like someone moved all the letters or maybe letters stopped existing.

Far from advancing in my career, I’ve spun slightly forward. Rather than resolving my medical hitches, I’ve opened more questions. I suppose a life settled, flat, and linear is actually death, just like the EKG says.

One decade ago I thought I was leaving the worst decade of my life, and in many ways I did. What I could not have known was the path ahead. The knots of grief, the threads of loss, the tangled clumps of life to be. This year ending in 9, I am more careful. I will not say a grand thank you to its passing, but I will welcome the shiny new with cautious optimism and disaster preparedness in mind.

I’ve set big goals for the new year. To grow to 2000 patrons at http://www.patreon.com/AmandaSalisbury. To contract with a new agent. To sell [redacted]. To make new and scary-to-me art. To share a vision peculiar to individuals in my life, and to move forward on those visions. I have planned a big year. I am preparing for a small year. Because that’s the balance that keeps me going even when life gets impossibly thick, thin, or tangled.

To you, I wish a new year of abundant good things, freedom from tyranny and oppression, and all the art you can stand to make. I hope for you wellness and goodness and all you need in a good measure, shaken down and overflowing.

-Amanda

The Reinvention of Me: Flexibility

Part of my reinvention theme this year has embraced: less planning, more doing. For an anxious, depressed procrastinator, that’s huge. I adore a good plan and I enjoy a bad plan over no plan at all. I’ve said before that the worst of the postpartum depression in 2008/2009 robbed me of spontaneity. It made me inflexible. I simply had no capacity to be whimsical.

My family learned that they had to suggest things early and often, otherwise I might have just shut down. My parents, both of whom I trust with all that I am, couldn’t come over and offer to take the boys off my hands. I’d freak out. Over time it became easier for them to call and ask to take the boys somewhere and for me to say, ‘let me think about that’. I’d need a few minutes or many minutes to acclimate to the idea.

I could not handle small changes in schedules, like Husband driving to Tulsa for a work commitment. I lived by a schedule. It was my lifeline.

When I returned my children to physical school in January, my mom came to sit with me. She helped me negotiate the big fears I had in their absence. I needed a schedule. I needed a piece of paper that told me what to do so that I wouldn’t waste away from waiting.

For those first months, the schedule was elegant with only a bare minimum of items: take boys to school, start the washer, set out something for dinner, eat lunch, finish laundry, pick up boys. Then I added volunteering at the school library. My mom and I settled into a pattern of working on Indelible Words.

Then the end of May arrived and my kids were with me again. The deep breath I’d been holding all rushed from me. Instead of setting up a minute-by-minute schedule, I set up a point system. It gave me time to work, them things to do and opportunities to work through boredom, and all of us a flexible plan.

I began posting in earnest. I wrote a crude schedule and focused on staying ahead (if only a little). It felt overwhelming sometimes as the tide rose and fell.

The last weekend in June, I created a brand new production schedule. I wanted to see my goals. It still isn’t a minute-by-minute guide but it helps me visualize my daily needs. How many words do I need to write per day? Per week? How do I want to proceed in finishing books I have underway? The production schedule answered that. It allowed me to keep a consistent word count while moving between and among projects.

I set it to begin July 1. Every day doesn’t look the same. I have to remind myself of the big goals and allow myself the flexibility for life to happen.