Cyber-smooches to the Writers in Our Community, Taking Inventory, and Merry Whatever-you-celebrate-mas!

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Today is Christmas/the third day of Hanukkah/the day before Kwanzaa/two days after Festivus/and whatever-you-celebrate day, and for many of us, it’s a joyous time full of awesomeness and sparkly decorations, spending time with family, exchanging gifts, and eating way too many cookies. But for some of us, it’s also a time of lousy weather, seasonal affective disorder, weird family interactions, and sadness that seems amplified because you’re supposed to be happy.

And if that’s you, dear writer, you have full permission to feel sad or angry, write somber poetry, punch dance it out in the woods like Hot Rod imitating Kevin Bacon in Footloose, change the lyrics to Christmas carols, and chug a bottle of J√§germeister in the bathroom while avoiding your family. Honestly, do what you need to do to make you feel happy. I’m thankful for you, and for all the writers in our community. In fact, I don’t think I would’ve gotten through 2019 as gracefully had it not been for the writing community.

Last Christmas Day I blogged, I’d just broken my ankle trail running and was scheduled for ORIF surgery (which was simply wonderful because instead of Santa Claus climbing down your chimney to leave you presents, a surgeon drills a hole into your bone and puts a metal rod in your leg while you’re sleeping), but 2019 proved to be my most challenging year yet. We didn’t get a tree this year and decided not to purchase any gifts because honestly, it’s more fun to make things like ugly dolls, chocolate chip cookies, fart jokes, and laughter.

My husband has had four surgeries this year and is scheduled for another one in February. He’s currently on chemotherapy for colon cancer, and for a quarter of the year I administered him with four IV drips a day through a picc line for a bone infection caused by a total reverse shoulder surgery, of which he’s had three. Our business was forced to close last February and he’s been out of work since, and I’ve taken on two extra jobs to support our family, and my father-in-law who currently lives with us has onset Alzheimer’s. I’ve dubbed him the “Notorious Rapscallion of Caff√® Mocha Accidents” and will be printing him business cards with his new title for the New Year.

And yet, every time I visit the oncologist and talk to the beautiful survivors with colorful head wraps it quickly puts things into perspective. So today, I’m thinking about the people who are having a hard time—the people who are sick and the ones caring for them, the people who are out of work and struggling to make ends meet, the people who don’t have any family to spend the holiday with, the heartbroken, those who’ve lost their homes, the people who’ve lost loved ones and are grieving, the people who are depressed during the holidays and having a tough time. Today I’m thinking of you. This may not be your best holiday ever, but I’m thinking of you today and wishing you a better New Year.

I’m also thinking about the writing community. The writers and instructors here at WOW, the writers in my Butt-Kickers Accountability group and my Mem-Warrior group—they already know about my personal issues because that’s what writers do. Maybe because we’re used to excavating our stories, finding that kernel of insight to share with the world, that we tend to support each other in ways that go beyond writing. That type of cyber-hug is never more than a click away. In fact, some of my most cherished friends are women I’ve never met in person. But we’re there for each other.

If there’s one thing that helped me get through the year, it’s writing. I breathed writing in every spare moment because it gave me a break, and gave me purpose. Knowing you have writing is like having the superpower of invincibility, and maybe invisibility too, because it allows you to disappear for a while. I thought I hadn't accomplished that much in 2019, but then I took a quick inventory, and discovered that I:

  • wrote 58,570 new words of my memoir, created a beat sheet, chapter summary, and marketing plan
  • completed 3 workshops with WOW, and wrote seven essays
  • read 32 books
  • submitted creative nonfiction to six publications, had three pieces accepted, and one of my essays was nominated for both the Best of Net and the Pushcart Prize

In my work as editor at WOW, our team:

  • published 4 new e-zine issues with 46 articles
  • facilitated 8 writing contests
  • published 82 works of fiction and creative nonfiction
  • published nearly 350 blog posts, an equal number of social media posts
  • launched 14 blog tours
  • interviewed over 146 writers in our community
  • sent 129 email campaigns with valuable content
  • and I personalized over 147 Amazon gift cards for contestants and WOW staff this year
  • the list goes on

Congratulations to team WOW, and to our vibrant community of writers, readers, and followers. We'd love to hear what you have accomplished! Leave a list in the comments below if you feel inclined to share. I bet you’ve accomplished more than you think you have.

Writing is hard, but so worthwhile. Much like life.

Thank you for your support this year, writers! I’m grateful for you, and I hope you're not dizzy from all the animated .gifs. They just brighten my day. :) I mean it when I say I couldn’t have gotten through the year without our writing community. Merry whatever-you-celebrate-mas and cheers to a better, most awesome and sparkly New Year!

We will bring it in 2020.


Nicole Pyles said...

What a wonderful post!! I love the punch dancing image you have given me. Thinking back to this year, I have reached the point where the process of writing, reaching a story's end (which once felt as elusive as the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow), rewriting, submitting, feels possible. It didn't used to feel so possible. It felt overwhelming. And this year has been such an excellent learning experience! I have a good feeling about 2020 and I am so impressed with everything accomplished by you and the whole team. Very happy to be part of this team of amazing writers! (14 tours?? Wow!! Who knew??)

Sioux Roslawski said...

Angela--You have gotten soooo much accomplished, despite sooo many obstacles. You keep trudging forward, which makes me admire you. Your hiking injury (see? There IS a reason I don't exercise ;)... your husband's battle for his life... your father-in-law's Alzheimer's (a horrible thing)... your business having to close down. Any one of those things--by themselves--might have stopped the average person in their tracks.

But not Super Angela! You either need to draw yourself as a superhero, or have someone else do it, and hang it where you can see it when you write--to remind you how fierce you are.

Your post reminded me of how much support I have missed giving to my fellow BKers while I've been in my writing funk, along with how much strength I could be getting because it's "contagious" when surrounded by strong, talented people.

May 2020 be a wonderful year for you, your husband, your family and your writing.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Thank you for this reminder! It is so easy to focus on what we didn't accomplish (no agent, still working on the graphic novel) and forget to look at what we've accomplished.

I finished the Beat Sheet for my mystery. I have drafted almost 40,000 words on that project. I'm learning about memoir. I took a WOW class on school visits and learned a ton. And, counting picture books and other children's books, I've read 150+ books this year. It looks more impressive than it is since a lot of those were picture books!

Margo Dill said...

Great post, Ang! You are amazing, and we are all a result of how amazing you are. You are our fearless leader. Here's hoping Mike's health gets on track this year because then imagine all the time you'll have. I can't wait to read your memoir! Happy New Year!

Angela Mackintosh said...

Nicole ~ I’ve seen you grow SO much this year and excel in so many different ways--everything from your short storiesg and articles to your kick-butt tour management skills and marketing--you should be very proud of your accomplishments. I love that you’re rewriting and submitting, and I’ve read some of your short stories and they are really good. Keep submitting and I know you’ll find a home for your work. I have a great feeling about 2020, too, and definitely want us to get together at the start of the New Year for some projects I have in mind. :) I know, 14 tours, can you believe it? That’s not even counting the ones you have in the pipeline! And if you haven’t seen the movie Hot Rod, definitely check it out. It’s hilarious, and one of my all-time favorites. Happy New Year, love! xo

Angela Mackintosh said...

Sioux ~ Thank you! I personally know you’ve accomplished so much this past year, from finishing (finishing! That’s a dream of mine) your novel to submitting it and starting another one. I know you’ve been through a rough patch with your novel, and you know the reason why, and I strongly believe that the tides will be shifting this year in the publishing industry and I don’t want you to give up hope. Your book is good and it’s a story that needs to be told. You will find an agent who will stand up for it, and you will find a publisher. I have a feeling 2020 will bring great things for you, Sioux! xo

Angela Mackintosh said...

SueBE ~ You are a writing and reading machine! 150+ books? Amazing. 40+k for your mystery is incredible. I had no idea you’d written that much. You’re going to zoom right past me! Okay, you didn’t include how many books you’ve written, and I know it’s at least four or five... ?

So proud of you, Sue! You rocked 2019. I can’t wait to see what you do in 2020. Cheers to you! xo

Angela Mackintosh said...

Margo ~ Thank you for the kind words, and I’m very hopeful that Mike’s health will get on track and this will be the year of recovery and good health. It’s been one of the scariest years of my life, honestly, just realizing that yeah, he’s not going to be around forever and what the hell am I going to do without him. That also made me realize how lucky I am to have writing and our community of writers. You are all amazing! I can’t wait to finish my memoir. It’s going to be a long road, but I’m down for it. I can’t wait to read your women’s fiction as well! Happy New Year, Margo! xo

Sioux Roslawski said...

Angela--You do. Not. Want. To. Know. How many books Sue has written. It's mind-boggling.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Oh, Angela, what a year you (and hubs) have had!Reminds me of that Elton John song..."I'm still standing, better than I ever did. Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid. I'm still standing."

I probably thought of that song a thousand times in the last couple of tough years. ( might not remember it but EJ was my jam) And you are so right; I, too, have writer friends whom I've never met in person but they lift me up. It's funny, because just today I was thinking about how having to write up my WOW! posts when I couldn't think straight was part of my getting through it all. It was so good for my brain to escape into writing about something completely different, though I don't know if I realized it at the time.

Now, of course, I do, and I'm so grateful for you and this opportunity to write outside myself. I don't know what my writing accomplishments have been this year other than getting lots and lots of blog posts written (I also write for my regional SCBWI blog) and revising lots and lots of pages from novels that needed lots and lots of revision. I'm okay with that 'cause I'm still standing. Yeah, yeah, yeah. :-)

Renee Roberson said...


THANK YOU for always being such a shining light to all of us even during what has to have been the most trying year of your life. I'm giving you a virtual hug and high five just looking at all that you've accomplished this year. Your memoir. The Pushcart nomination. The lit journal acceptances. Completing and showing up for the workshops. All those books you've been able to read. Your work here at WOW! didn't miss a beat (at least not that I could tell) and you have showed up for Mike and your FIL and continued to get those words on the page. Congratulations on all you've accomplished and I promise I'm getting my butt in gear now, LOL!

KAlan said...

All it takes for a Merry Christmas is to see Angela's positive light shining through a troubled year.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Angela definitely has a positive light.

How many books did I write? Three young adult NF and one picture book which I am still working on.

Remember 150 book is easy when half of them are picture books. I read 11 books a year for book club. Oh, and don't forget all the graphic novels I read this year. ::shrug:: I've always read like this but I read quickly. My son read very slowly and remembers every single detail.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Cath ~ Yes! I remember the EJ song. I just looked it up though to watch the music video. OMG, the 80s outfits. Thank you for putting that image in my head. :)

I know you’ve been through a lot, and as Jodi Picoult said, “Grief is the gray shape-shifter of emotion.” I also feel like there’s no time limit on grief. Everyone expects you to be over things in months or a year, but for me, I know I will grieve for a lifetime. It just changes shape over time, and TG we have writing to get us through it. Not only for an escape, but as a way to work through it. Grief was the reason I got into writing and continues to fuel my writing today.

I didn’t know you wrote for the SCBWI blog! That’s fantastic. :)

Yes, we’re still standing! Cheers to us, and happy New Year! xo

Angela Mackintosh said...

Renee ~ Thank you! You’ve accomplished a lot this year as well. Everything from leaving a job to landing a new job as editor of a magazine to creating a submission package and putting your novel out there for the world to read--you’ve had a BRAVE year. Those are big leaps, Renee, and you should be proud of yourself. That’s not to mention all the writing and your podcast! You’re a woman of action.

Cheers to both of us! Happy New Year, love! xo

Angela Mackintosh said...

Keith ~ Aw, thank you! You’re the best. :)

Sue ~ Three YA nonfictions and one PB is amazing! Congratulations!

I read very slowly and don’t remember every single detail. But I’m okay with that! I remember what resonates with me, and I think that’s how most people read. If you've read any great graphic novels lately, I'd love some recommendations. I've read a lot, but not this last year. I think the last I read was a graphic memoir from one of the writers in our community, By the Forces of Gravity by Rebecca Fish Ewan (Hippocampus Books, June 2018), and I took Naomi Kimbell's WOW workshop Speculative Memoir with Rebecca, which was so fun because we were the only artists in the workshop and drew illustrations to go with some of our exercises! She's really talented at combining memoir and artwork.

Marcia Peterson said...

You are really inspiring, Angela! Always so positive in spite of some really tough breaks. I like that you said "If there’s one thing that helped me get through the year, it’s writing." I find that to be true myself, particularly journaling.

I hope 2020 is an easier time for you and Mike. Wishing you a great new year! Looking forward to more awesome stuff from WOW.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Thanks, Marcia! I'm glad you're journaling. It's often the start of all my writing--either that or free-writing. Personal writing can be so satisfying, especially when you make a practice of it. :)

Wishing you happy writing in the New Year! xo

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