2016 was the most life-changing year of my life. I got married, moved to Shanghai full time, and explored a few new directions for my writing here in China.
Of course, there were moments of transition that were difficult. My health faltered for a while upon moving to this city and I spent a stressful couple of months really thinking hard about what projects and work I could both do well and feel truly passionate about. This involved a bit of self-reflection, and of course with it, self-criticism, which is not always easy. I identified a number of problems that had led me to my feeling stuck in a paralyzing crossroads: 1) I enjoyed a quite narrow field of work and at times could be inflexible about it 2) I had a hard time saying 'no' to people and projects, sometimes taking on too many and less-than-ideal opportunities 3) My writing and my editing work was all done individually, which meant at times I felt isolated and without a network or community to lean on.
To deal with the first and second issue, I made the decision to cut out all extraneous work that did not either relate to my individual development as a writer or that did not relate to working with the kinds of writing that I enjoyed and cared about. I have dedicated myself to the goal of mastering one craft and for now, focusing on work related only to that goal.
To deal with the third issue, I began to go out more, to commit to more social events, and to tell more people about my goals and my plans. The more people knew, the more relevant opportunities came my way. I also began to feel like I had more of my own network of friends and acquaintances in Shanghai, as opposed to leaning on my husband's.
By doing some self reflection and by opening myself up to more people and opportunities, I was able to start and find some exciting projects and new paths for myself.
To that end, here are the things I'll be working on in 2017:
- I'll be continuing to write about culture, education, and travel for newspapers and magazines as a freelance journalist. This work and the small collection of clips I've gathered over the past 6 months are something I'm proud of; that give me a sense of progress as pieces are accepted, edited, and published; and that help me grow individually as a writer.
- I've joined up with three friends between Shanghai and New York to start a literary magazine here in Shanghai. I'll serve as the Editor of the journal.
- I've started running creative writing workshops for young students, between the ages of 10-15. This is not only one of the most fun things I've ever taught as an educator, but it's a regular reminder to me of the natural creativity we all have within us. Therefore, it is a true pleasure and also a huge source of inspiration.
- Next year I'll start a role as a part time lecturer at a university nearby, teaching writing to a new cohort of graduate students. This is a new challenge for me, an honor, and an opportunity to take my teaching to the next level.
- And of course I'll continue my admissions essay editing, upon demand. I don't do much marketing anymore for Boutique - the requests roll in via word of mouth and I like it that way. But I can't say that this will be my main focus anymore, as I'll also be taking on more responsibilities elsewhere. I'm focusing on my craft as well as cultivating younger and peer writers in my community. Going forward, I'll maintain this blog and my work here - it is largely rewarding working with cool people with big dreams who are honing smart pieces of personal narrative. I am hopeful that all my other projects related to writing and teaching writing will inform and influence my work with Boutique students for the better.
Thanks very much for your time and your support this past year. It's been a thrilling and at times rocky road transitioning my life and work to the other side of the world. But I've made it here safely, and now I'm finally settling in and figuring out who I can be and what I want for the short, medium, and long term. I've faced the risks and responsibilities of accepting that it comes down to one thing: writing. I want to be writing, to be a writer, and to be engaging with quality writing and writers in my community. That's it, folks! Here's to a hopeful 2017, to you and yours and your beautiful dreams.