Looking Back: 2011

This year has passed in what feels like a blink of an eye and I honestly can’t wrap my head around the fact that there are only five days left. For me, 2011 was a year of changes, accomplishments and fun.
But as always, the end of the year brings about a time of reflection and I have pondered what I’ve learned, what I’ve done and what things I might’ve done differently.
Here’s a short list in no particular order:

Quit sooner:
If given the chance to do over again, I would’ve quit my job sooner than I did. At the beginning of 2011, my husband and I tentatively set the date of mid-May as the time-frame of quitting. Looking back, we would’ve been fine financially had I done it at that time. I stayed longer than I should have, out of stupid fears, both financial and what people would say or think about me giving up a full-time job in today’s economy to be a writer. Even though I wish I would’ve left sooner, I learned a valuable lesson. In life, you just have to take a leap, sometimes you’ll fall and others you’ll land on your feet. No one ever grew as a person by avoiding mistakes.

Dreams are meant to be lived:

I think we’re given dreams for a reason: so we can live them. It’s not always easy to do though. It takes courage, drive and commitment. If you feel you’re lacking in the stick-to-itedness department, read this post I wrote earlier in the year about how to live your dreams.

Self-publication isn’t shameful:
I saw a life-long goal come to fruition earlier in the year when I published my first book, Finding Justus in e-book format via Kindle Direct Publishing. A few months later, I published my second book, Love in Greener Pastures in the same format. And finally, this November, I released both novels in one paperback.
A couple years ago I had pretty strong opinions about people who self-published. When I submitted my first book to a couple of small e-publishers in 2008, I either got rejected, or they were interested in the book IF I changed quite a few things about the story. Changes I felt wouldn’t benefit the characters, but rather detract from them.
After I submitted, I put my book away. More than one person told me I should try self-publishing my book. At that time, in 2008, the phrase self-publishing sent shivers down my spine. I thought the act of self-publishing would make me reek of desperation. Flash-forward to the summer of 2010 and I began to see things differently.
Since I put my books “out there” on my own, I of course haven’t sold thousands of copies, but I’ve enjoyed getting my name out there, connecting with other authors online and getting feedback from readers. None of that would’ve happened had I clung to my beliefs that self-published books were awful and the last resort of a desperate, rejected author.

Know when to take a break/be true to yourself:

Dedicated blog readers may have noticed something different about Vida de Verde in the past year, especially in the past three to four months. I haven’t posted much on the subjects of minimalism, down-sizing and green living. Please don’t take this to mean I have abandoned these beliefs. I haven’t. I’ve stopped posting about them as of late because, honestly, I have a bit of a bad taste in my mouth about what a lot of other bloggers in the minimalist movement have done. From taking their blog off the market, to charging for content and/or moving to a “subscription only service” via an email letter format, it just doesn’t sit well with me. I know I could continue to write about these things, regardless of what other bloggers are doing, but I am hesitant for some reason, and I am choosing to honor that hesitation right now.
At first I worried by lessening minimalist/simple/green living content on my blog I would lose readership, but some of my posts started feeling forced and I knew that would come across in my writing, so I’d lose readers anyway. Instead, I posted about things happening in my life, things I knew about at that moment. I’m happy (and shocked) to say my readership has skyrocketed in the past four months.
In the future, I’ll still post about simple living, but will continue to stay to true to myself and post about what I am excited about in the moment. I hope I will always know when to take a step back from something that is no longer speaking to me and realize it’s okay to come back to things at a later date.

That’s my year, in a nutshell. I hope your 2011 was everything you hoped and more and here’s to making 2012 even better!

*A note about comments. There are no comments on Vida de Verde. If you’d like to engage with me about this or any other post, feel free to email me at amanda@amandabretz.com or reach out to me on Google+, Twitter or Facebook.

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