2018 was a year of firsts for me. I started the year off having just received my first couple of payments for writing online clickbait for The Richest. It wasn’t the first time I’d ever been paid for writing, but it was pretty close, and even if the work seemed cheap the knowledge that thousands of people were out there reading my words had a profound effect on me. With money coming in two times a month and eyeballs constantly on my writing, I felt for the first time in my life that I could honestly call myself a professional writer. It wasn’t so much about the amount of money I was making – It was about the mindset. Suddenly I started thinking to myself, maybe I can actually do this.
Professionally, 2018 included three significant landmarks. First, I began writing for my favourite Raptors fan site in January. It wasn’t a paying job, but getting my name out there as an amateur sportswriter helped connect me with the local basketball community and offered a step towards a career I’d always dreamed of. Second, in April, I got my first piece of short fiction published, in Blank Spaces. It was a small magazine, but seeing my name in print for the first time as a fiction author helped me further work through my impostor syndrome. And finally, in September, came the highlight of my year – the day that Running The Point won the 2018 Story Shares Diversity Award. Not only was it my first time getting PAID for a work of fiction – it was also my first writing prize and my first opportunity to see my name on the cover of a published book.
There were other milestones, of course. In 2018 I created my first personal website – this one – and appeared on my first podcast. 2018 was also my first full year of living with a significant other – a harrowing experience that somehow didn’t completely destroy our relationship but did lead to us agreeing that we need a bit more space in 2019. Over the course of the year I also reached out to two important girls from my past. Those interactions weren’t necessarily meaningful on their own, but sometimes it’s worth mending some fences just to move on with life without lingering on past hurts. It’s part of being a real adult, I guess.
And then there were the hiccups. The fact I spent most of the year recovering from a concussion suffered in November 2017, a recovery that is in some ways now complete but maybe in other ways never will be. There was the fact that I wasn’t able to gain traction at paying publications or significantly raise my online profile in an industry where exposure is everything. Or the cold, hard realization that while my first year of freelancing has been exciting, it’s hard to ignore the fact that my bank account has been shrinking faster than it’s been growing.
All in all, 2018 was a year to build on – a year that offered a launching point for a career, if not an arrival. A year ago today, I wrote five resolutions for 2018 over at the Sleeping With The Material World blog. Here’s a quick look back at them and five more resolutions for 2019:
1. Find a steady writing gig
Success. I don’t know that I’ve necessarily found a steady writing gig in the way that I imagined, but between the work I’m doing for Irwin’s Industrial Safety and the work I’m doing on the book, my plate is pretty full these days.
2. Quit my restaurant job
Success. I quit my job right before Easter and I couldn’t be happier that I did. Money has been tight and there may be another wage job in my future somewhere, but I definitely needed to unlock the chain that was around my neck.
3. Get Sleeping With The Material World into the hands of a publisher
Fail. Priorities have changed as the book has evolved and we’re now focused on finishing the manuscript before submitting it. Of course, a year ago I would have said that I expected to have finished the manuscript by now. So – I can’t say I’m thrilled about where I'm at with this one.
4. Eat better
Success. I’m still not eating especially healthy, but not working nights has freed me up to cook dinner quite a bit more. There’s still lots of room for improvement, but the takeout nights have gone down from about 6 per week to about 3 per week. Baby steps, right?
5. Spend more time with friends
Fail. I’m going to give myself a fail on this because I still feel like I haven’t reconnected with a lot of old friends in the way I planned to. Then again, at this stage my life it’s more important to look forward and worry about making new friends rather than worrying about the people who may or may not have been there for me in the past.
So, how about 2019 resolutions?
1. Finish the SWTMW manuscript
2. Find a larger publisher for Running The Point
3. Publish a paid article on a major(ish) magazine or website
4. Raise my online profile
5. Become more comfortable conducting interviews
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Just a writer from Toronto trying to make a living.