Here's to 2016

It's the Saturday before Christmas. Almost the end of 2015. How did we get here? I have blogged more than ever before this year. This is thanks to several things.

  1. I finished writing my novel. When you're writing something that's as important to you as this novel is to me, sometimes you need to write about writing it.

  2. I took my friend Micah's Clumsy Bloggers workshop and learned a crap-ton of stuff about writing and interwebz and websites that has helped me get better at this whole typing words at strangers on my blog thing.

  3. I set a goal to complete the 2015 Reading Challenge and blog a review of each book I read. I've finished 40 so far and have two more on the go now. I probably won't tick all 50 boxes (partly because one of those boxes is a trilogy) but I'm going to get close, and I'll finish the checklist early next year.

  4. I've witnessed a lot of bad things happening all around the world, but especially in my country. I haven't written about this nearly as much as I have wanted to, but occasionally, I've put some blogs together just about life in general, the way I see it.

It's been a great year. I got a job this year actually using my Master's degree and writing rather than waiting tables and mixing drinks. My husband and I moved into a new house in Australia. I got a literary agent, which I still sometimes can't fully believe. I signed up for my first NaNoWriMo and completed it at 51,000 words for the month of November.

But today, Saturday the 19th of December, I am eating fluffy pancakes and doing international packing while listening to Spotify's "Best of 2015" playlist.

In four days, I get on an airplane with my man and head back to the USA for the first time since we moved here a year and a half ago, and I feel like I'm going back as a different person. Still the same Amy in many ways -- personality, taste, values -- but different too.

I feel steadier now. More sure of myself and what I want to do with words. I care less about offending people, not because I want to offend them, but because the funny thing about the internet is that it shows you just how eager people are to get offended -- so why worry about it? I still go through the emotional highs and lows that most writers complain about, and I still read things online just about every day that have me itching to write a ranty blog instead of just letting it go.

I'm slowly learning to let it go.

Not because I think some things aren't worth standing up for, but because it's starting to dawn on me just how unwilling most people are to let their minds be changed by something they read on the internet. My best friend texted me a week or two ago and asked in a completely respectful way, "What's your reasoning, or purpose rather, for political and spiritual posts on Facebook?"

I told her that I share things that I feel present a unique perspective on a difficult topic in the hopes that they might get people to look at something in a new light, not because I'm itching for a fight or looking to argue. But since she texted that, I've been thinking: when I do post something like that, or write a controversial blog post, it almost always ends up in an argument anyway. Usually with someone I barely know in real life, but we're friends on Facebook.

Don't get me wrong. Sometimes, some things are worth speaking up about even when you know it's going to bug people. That's what writers do, and maybe it's because I'm a writer that I even have the compulsion to do that. There are plenty of great writers out there who make a living pointing out fallacies in common arguments, presenting unique perspectives on hot-button issues, etc. They're great at what they do, but I'm not one of them.

I want to write things that make people think and get people engaged with issues that they've never really thought about hard enough to form a solid opinion on. Odds are, if you are against gun control, you will probably remain against gun control no matter how many people die every year for your right to own one. If you're pro-abortion, someone putting together a strongly worded blog against abortion isn't really going to change your mind. If you think refugees ought to be kept out of peaceful countries because there's possibly a tiny percentage of them that might want to bring harm to that country, then me sitting here and railing on about it will likely bounce off deaf ears.

But what about the issues that don't necessarily have the majority of one political party on one side and the majority of another party on the other? What about things like false confessions, police brutality, the death penalty, and institutional racism?

These are the things I'll be writing about in 2016. Not every blog post, don't worry. This won't be a hotbed for depressing statistics and downer stories. Instead, I'm hoping that by doing my research and writing with empathy, I can bring to light some things that maybe you haven't thought of before, because I'll be telling them to you as things I've only just learned myself.

Of course, I'm also hoping to have exciting news to announced about my first novel in the coming months -- but we all just have to hang tight for that together.

If that sounds good to you, I hope you'll stick with me. The year 2015 has been a tough one for the world, although not all bad as the faithful BuzzFeed let me know this morning. Here's to a brighter, more compassionate 2016. May we all learn a little bit more than we did this year.