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Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year, everyone! 

2024 is here and I, for one, am dead set on making this a good year. After the slog of 2023, I think we can all agree that we’re overdue for even an ounce of a break—or just some levity given 2023 forced me to take a break for the sake of my sanity. A lot has happened. A lot I wanted to have happen just… didn’t. Let’s talk a bit about it while I’ve got a moment in between festivities and go over the past year and what to look forward to in the next.

2023 is going down in my ledger as the Year of Burnout. As depressing as that sounds, as reductive as it makes it all be, it really is what lives strongest in my mind when I think about the past 365 days. As we all know, I’m very hard on myself. It’s why this year became Burnout Year. Every success I accomplish fades in my mind as I consider it against this… failure, I suppose, isn’t the proper word for it. People will get mad at me if I call “having burnout” a “failure”. But in my brain, that’s what it is. I had goals and I failed to reach them because my brain refused to keep to the abusive pace I’ve kept for almost a decade. 

It’s going to take a lot of effort in 2024 to rewrite this reading of the situation. To some extent, I’m sure I’m going to be working at rewiring this mentality for quite awhile longer besides. But I have gotten things done. There have been successes, just not the sort I wrote in my schedule book at the start of 2023. I published once this year, not twice. I completed only a couple novellas, not the five I had wanted. There were multiple novel rewrites I wanted done this year. Only a few got done. Some, as it turned out, may require another rewrite entirely—my brain wasn’t working well this year, and what I managed to force out wasn’t good enough to fix what needed to be fixed.

Let’s take a minute to translate the above paragraph from its negative, downplayed bend into something most people would read it as instead: I published Ossuary, a novella so well received it saw my follower count skyrocket alongside my sales, making it one of the strongest breakaway successes of my career. I managed to write to completion three new novellas on Patreon, thus giving me enough of a editable backlog that I won’t need to write any new content for publication for at least a year or more—I’ll be able to take a very, very much needed break thanks to that, all without the pressure to create new work to publish. At long, long, long last, I finally finished the first draft of Hiraeth, the final novel in my very first series and a book I’ve been struggling to complete for about five years now. I rewrote half of Aubade, another old ass novel I’ve wanted to rework for years now. It’ll need a lot more work, but it’s now in a state that can be worked off of, not the mess I’d originally made of it back in 2016.

Even typing all of that, I’m at war with myself. It’s just… really hard to justify to myself what “success” versus “failure” is. Most people wouldn’t have been able to do even one of these things. Most writers would be lucky to have written one novella in a year, let alone the several I managed on top of the novel rewrites. I always say my resolution for each new year that passes is to feel pride in my accomplishments for once. I still haven’t figured out how to do that. Maybe this year will be the year for it. I don’t know. All I can do is try, and writing it all out helps, even if only a little.

I’m hopeful for other things for 2024, though. Things beyond my productivity and all the various things I want to produce or publish. 2023 has been… one of the hardest years of my life, to be honest. I don’t talk a ton about my personal life, but it’s been—difficult. This year, especially the last couple of months, hasn’t been easy. The political and world events aside, a lot of my friends have struggled, my family has struggled, and work has challenged me in ways that made it so difficult to come home and even think of writing that all I could do was lay down, put on a youtube video, and vegetate until the noise in my brain went silent long enough to let me sleep. 

The stress surrounding recognizing my burnout and admitting to it publicly nearly ate me alive. Stripping my Patreon of rewards related to consistent output… There were several times this year where I stared up at the dark ceiling above my bed and wondered if I really should continue writing. They say never trust anything you think about your life after nine pm. The number of times I had to remind myself of that… It was just a lot. 

But I’m hopeful. Against everything else, in spite of everything else, I’m hopeful for 2024. I’ve gone grayer than ever before, but the work I put in to reach even keel has resulted in a much more solid foundation for this new year. I no longer need to stress every month to meet my quota. The friends I worried so much about are safe, far closer than before, and thriving. My family has come together in ways we just… never did previously, and that’s something remarkable, and while work is still something I do to pay the bills, it’s coming together to actually offer me the sort of compensation that will help me achieve goals I could only dream of.

This is all very personal and lowkey sad, but it does feel good to get it out. I want to thank you all for reading these blog posts, commenting when you’re able, and just offering up kindness and attention to the efforts I’ve put in over the year. As I’ve said before, I’ve never been good at speaking to a dark auditorium and trusting that someone was listening even through the silence. The support I’ve been given means the world, and every kind word that’s been left in a comment, a review, a QRT, a reply, or just something said to me in person at a convention has gone so far in buoying my spirits when they were at their lowest. 

So, here’s to 2024. Here’s to taking it slow, taking it easy, and above all else, being kind to ourselves as we do what we can and nothing more than that. I hope you all find the space to give yourself grace in ways I’m still learning how to do, and that you’re excited for what’s yet to come—because I do have plans, just not with hard deadlines for once. 

As always, until next time.

T.D. Cloud

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Learning to be kinder to ourselves is always a hard, long road, but I'm glad that you're walking it as it's so worth it. Good luck with that, and I wish you joy in everything you do, even if it's laying down listening to a video ;)

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i hope you have a wonderful new year as well, and that we are able to rest and be kinder to ourselves this go around! i'm already completely exhausted, but my youtube is queued up and i'm about to tuck into a tasty dinner. let's do our best with 2024, and see what happens from here!

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