2023 was a year of learning and vulnerability for me. I entered the year with an idea for a children's book that had kind of lingered for a bit. It came to me in November 2022 and pretty much stayed cozy in the back of my head until I started to wonder if I should act on it. Can I do it? Is that crazy? How do I do it? Should I do it? Where do I start? There was a lot of uncertainty around this topic, as book writing was a new terrain for me (and writing publicly in general).
I kept this little secret of mine for a while and eventually started verbalizing it at the beginning of the year. I started talking about it with a trusted few and I started to get good advice on what my next steps could be. What to learn about. Where to find more information. And most importantly, the simple notion that it is within reach for me to do. I began exploring this new terrain and followed my intuition that creating was something to look into.
Putting Myself Out There in 2023
In terms of where to start with this inkling to explore writing, I had the advantage of already being in the editorial world. I had been a freelance editor for about three years and had an existing network of editors who were also writers and knew of resources that could help me out. So, thankfully I wasn't starting from scratch. I realized I just needed to tap into the resources around me and be curious. I was in learning mode. In 2023, I attended three conferences related to writing, publishing, and editing: the Women in Publishing Summit, the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) Publishing University, and the Editorial Freelancers Association's annual conference ("EFA Con").
Given that I started freelancing toward the beginning of COVID in 2020, I hadn't gone to any in-person editing related conferences prior to this year. I found that being around like-minded people at these conferences was particularly energizing. I learned so much and met some amazing people. I was inspired by speakers; my world opened up.
The Women in Publishing Summit took place in March, and after attending, I was inspired to try out the writing journey. After meeting and listening to so many women writers, entrepreneurs, and publishers, I was motivated to go for it and make space for more writing and creating. In my freelance business, I had previously focused on healthcare, academic, and business editing; though I realized I didn't want to restrict myself in only those topics. So, I re-branded by business to make room for other ventures, such as writing and more authenticity reading. I updated my website and changed my business name from Marcella Healthcare Solutions, LLC to Marcella Lopez Editorial, LLC. In April, I created a business Instagram account and began the first drafts of my children's book manuscript. In June, I started a blog (I had never blogged before so this was both exciting and scary). I joined another professional organization, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). I was rolling! Making moves and taking names. This was all new to me, but I felt like I had momentum and inspiration on my side so I continued on.
I put myself out there this year—more than I have in the past. I used to be quite private and afraid to share much with others. And I think over the past few years, I've shed some of my fear of being seen and gained some confidence to create the life I want.
Imposter Syndrome and Slowing Down
And while I had some real momentum most of the year, it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. It was a lot of work and after the summer, I had a few months of feeling stuck with the progress of the manuscript. Maybe I had been too optimistic on how it could progress. Maybe I got a little discouraged after some tough critiques and some publishers not accepting new manuscripts later in the year. Or maybe I just had a hard time carving out time with all the realities of life: relationships, work, the demands of everyday activities.
Ultimately, I had to learn to let go a bit on my self-imposed timelines and give myself a little grace to feel what I felt and take some time to get through my feelings. This time period was tough because I was feeling some major imposter syndrome. However, I inched my way back to some inspiration around early December and began learning what works best for me to create (e.g., time of day to work, how to prioritize the order of doing things). While it took me some time to snap out of it, I do think it helped me learn more about myself and develop some techniques to keep a positive mentality and clear head. Fortunately, I have been feeling re-energized these last weeks of the year.
What is for me will find it's way to me. I need to remind myself of that from time to time.
In yoga class this week, the instructor offered the notion that entering a new year is not all about letting go of things from the prior year. It can also be about keeping what you'd like to cultivate more of in the coming year. This made me think that while a lot of things were new and uncertain for me this year, there were definitely some positive things that I'd like to keep as I enter a new year. Along those lines, here are a few of my ins and outs for 2024.
Ins and Outs for 2024
In for 2024
Out for 2024
Being intentional with my time to create
Cultivating great relationships
Self-care (physical/mental/emotional/financial health)
Prioritizing activities that align with my goals and authentic self
Feeling guilty for not doing all the things
Saying no when it doesn't feel right
I enjoy writing these blog articles. I admit it was scary when I first started publishing articles in June, but since then I've come to look forward to it. And I hope you're enjoying them too. To me, if they're helpful or resonate with even just one other person, then it's worthwhile.
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