• Matt Brown

Clean Slate, Reflections of 2019

When we think about a new year often we think of a chance to start with a clean slate. As soon as the ball drops the troubles and triumphs of previous days gone by have cemented in place. While set in stone, their hold seems weaker as we look toward the horizon at a new dawn.


Resolutions are made as we promise ourselves to make this our year of change. What came previous will not lie ahead. In our heart of hearts that’s the goal. The desire for a profound change to how we lived resonates within us.


I know that’s how I’m feeling. I look back and 2019 and it feels like a dark cloud. There were rays, moments when the clouds parted, and the sun shone through. Still, for me, it was a difficult year. I went through a lot, between changes at work, to repeated rejection letters, to a very difficult end to a relationship.


I’m not writing this to rant or complain. It’s simply a time a reflection. To think about what I want to accomplish in 2020 and who I want to become. To not allow depression to sink its dirty claws into me and drag me down as it did so often last year.


When the relationship I was in ended, that was the hardest part. Like an apex predator, Depression was there. It pounced and clawed at me taking some of the passion and fire I had like some sick trophy to parade around for all to see.


In its wake, I found my love for what I do diminished. I think what made this so hard was it was the first time in my life I could truly share something so important with another person. To see the wonder in their eyes as they read my work.


It’s much different than when someone reads your work and loves it. It delves into a deeper part of yourself. In essence and maybe it’s a strange thing to say, but there’s almost a sense of intimacy when your other half sees what you do and falls in love with it.


When they roll their eyes or tease you like you’re some five year old. These moments are precious and beautiful. I’ve never had someone so involved with my writing before not to this degree.


In many ways, it inspired me. Drove me to be better and become better. It was the first time when I looked at the future I saw someone standing with me at Cons and sharing in the success I’m working so hard to achieve. It was the first time I saw the look in the eyes of someone so close to me that believed I was capable of it.


I’m still not sure how we got to where we were. So many questions remain. But, as I’ve said before, Relationships are hard. Sometimes they can be confusing. Again I’m just reflecting on things. I’m not bitter. Time heals.


From where I sit now, I’m slowly working to rekindle that passion. I have many ideas moving forward.


As last year went on, I started learning how difficult the submission process. I’ve sent out several letters, probably close to thirty. I had honestly wanted to send more, but work, life and trying to finish another novel made that more difficult. Especially with me trying to handle social media and the blog itself.


Working full time with limited funds it’s probably one of the hardest struggles for a writer. There are a lot of demands and new ways of thinking that you have to teach yourself. Sometimes it’s hard for me to change modes from writer to manager.


But the learning curve continues. I also realized a few weeks ago that I need to operate at a level that I can handle. You can only do so much. We all have to work with the hands we are dealt until that wild card comes along to give us the edge we needed. For some, the process is slower and at times it feels like you won’t make it. You can though, it just takes a lot of hard work.


After I conference I went to, I definitely feel I’m close to getting where I want to be. Just have to keep pushing. I’m always having to remind myself that it’s a marathon, not a race. I can get there.

Time management has been another thing on my mind. In reflection, I need to hold myself more accountable. I started off last year well, but with everything that happened, I slipped little by little. I mean it’s understandable considering, but it also showed me how deeply Depression’s claws can into me if I allow it.


But in that, I have to remember that these feelings left in its wake aren’t real. They are imagined insecurities that will keep me weighed down if I let them. They’re simply lies. I’m not saying it’s easy. Nothing is ever as simple as it’s spoken.

In my experience, Depression has triggers. It’s like a dog whistle calling out to it and inviting it to dinner. It can’t wait to take a bite out of you when it hears it. For me, a solution has been to avoid isolating myself and find a group of people to connect face to face with. I have a really bad habit of distancing and disconnecting myself from others, most of the time not even on purpose. Game night with a group of friends has rapidly become a regular event that has helped me greatly.


So, as a solution, I found a group of people to hang with and it’s been an amazing help. Like the load I was carrying was taken from me. In recent weeks game night has become a regular thing.


While I have had some positive markers throughout the year, perhaps the greatest ones were Thanksgiving and Christmas. In previous years work has always gotten in the way, but Thanksgiving this year was a true blessing. It inspired me to prepare a special gift for my oldest niece. One that I was able to present to her at Christmas.

I wrote a poem. I wanted something she would cherish. Not some gift that would fade into dust and be useless years from now. I wanted to give her something more precious. A memory.


Kids have it tough these days. The world is constantly telling them who and what to be before they can understand who they are and what they want. Sometimes, it forces them to choose before they are ready. So the poem I wrote had to be something I knew she would cherish and help her stay grounded.

At Christmas when she opened her gift, with the nice frame and parchment paper it was printed on, I could faintly hear her read it through the din of family chatter just a few feet away. She cried. Then she stood up, came over and hugged me tightly. I cried a little too. It was the best moment of that night.


Now that look back over the year, it was tough. I shed tears, experienced both pain and disappointment, met betrayal, deceit, and distrust. I’ve seen fair-weather friends, acquaintances, and people who smile with empty politeness. But, even so, I move on and move forward.


I refuse to be bitter or even allow my words to communicate that. Each experience is a teachable moment. Something I hope to use to shape myself into a better person toward the future.


My goals for the year are set. Finish Valkyrie, and push the Ancient Blood series to publishers alongside it. I plan to write more short stories for the blog and work on creating more content. I have a few revisions to do as well, but that part is easy. It’s going to be a busy year, but I have to set the pace.


I hope this for all of you 2020 is a successful and blessed year. I hope that whatever your struggles last year that this year, regardless of what happened, the clean slate starts now. The past is behind press on toward the goal. You have a great future ahead, reach for it. I plan to do the same.


Regards,


Matt

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