Where we last left off following the adventures of Chelsea Counsell, American Wizard, we found her vomiting and feeling sorry for herself… (This was quarter one of 2022.)
So what happened in the rest of 2022? I’m sure you’re all dying to know. Maybe. A passing interest.
Well, the biggest news probably is that I started a small business in June. An art business.
✨TINY BEE STATIONERY✨
[[Image shows business card for Tiny Bee Stationery.]]
My friend Pam was like “hey, you should sign up to sell your art at the Easthampton Farmers Market” and I was like, “oh okay,” and the first date they gave me was in early July, so I slapped together the pieces of a small business in June lol.
[[Image shows two dragon cards: blue on white backgrounds.]]
So I sold my art at the farmers market, a big maker’s market in September, and some holiday markets in December. I designed and printed two-dozen card designs this year, so that was a lot, but I tried to just get a few new cards every market I had, so I had new things to show off to returning customers.
[[Image shows pleased raccoon decorating a black trash bag with red ornaments and garland.]]
The great news about my business is that I’m already in the black. There aren’t many businesses that can turn around on their primary investment in the first six months, but I did. Cheers! And thank you very kindly to my friends who have bought cards already to support me in this new adventure.
✨I TOOK AN INTENTIONAL BREAK FROM WRITING✨
I haven’t been very kind to my brain. As you may remember from past blog posts, I’m very hard on myself with regards to goal setting. Frankly, I’ve never made a realistic goal in my life. I’m the kind of person who will unironically speculate “wow, a long weekend? Maybe I can write a whole novel.” My planning brain is a big dumb fart who doesn’t see reality–only dreams and madness.
So when I wrote my last blog post about resting and being compassionate to myself there was a part of me that was like “oh man, idk if this is actually gonna happen.” Because it ain’t never happened before. And it did take a bit to happen. I was coming out of querying Magic Princess Academy and feeling profoundly dejected because I had gotten no interest between November 2021 and summer of 2022. All the rejections I got were forms. I was obviously doing something wrong, and it was bumming me out because I assumed it must be the word count.
I attended a Manuscript Academy course that July and learned from one of their guest agents, ESCANDALO, that there is a word count filter on query manager, and if your work is too long for the genre or age group, it could be getting essentially tossed out without even getting eyes on it. So that was heartbreaking news. I may have endured two years of querying, which feels like shit, for essentially nothing.
But last August, the idea of making Magic Princess Academy, currently tapping in at 87,000 words, 30% shorter (so it would be closer to 60k words) was giving me ✨panic attacks✨. My brain was absolutely not having it.
[[Image is a portrait of a calico cat I did for a friend.]]
The lovely people at Hopefully Writing suggested maybe I should take a break from writing.
I was like, “A BREAK?! What are you CRAZY? How will I become published with A BREAK?!” And I was also like, “Ugh, a break? What have I been doing ALL YEAR?” because I didn’t have a super productive writing year, and I was beating myself up for not writing a whole damn novel this summer.
But it turns out not writing but expecting yourself to be writing is not actually a break, because it’s not a break from ✨THE SHAME✨. So I took their advice and took a real, honest to god break from writing. In August, I said to myself, “Chelsea Counsell, you are not going to write. You are not even really going to think about writing. No outlining, no revising, no NUTHIN’.”
And let me tell you, if there’s one thing I’m better at than writing, it is not writing. 😂😂😂 lol fml
[[Image shows a small parade of pastel dragons.]]
I went through August and September, just marveling at how good I was at not writing. Every day I woke up knowing I could absolutely crush my goal of not writing. I felt powerful. It was like, by eschewing (what I felt like were) my responsibilities, I was actually being responsible.
And it turns out rest is actually good for you? In July, I’d been really struggling to make art, but the second I decided I wasn’t going to be writing for a time, the art part of my brain was like HERE YOU GO, BITCH <tosses art all over me>. Which, again, was good for my art business.
And it turns out writing doesn’t actually go away? All my projects were still waiting for me when I came back. Nothing had changed. My chance to become a writer hadn’t disappeared. I think there was a part of me that thought that would happen. That if I didn’t write right now and as fast as possible, then all the agents would close their doors and publishing companies wouldn’t be buying books anymore, which is absurd, but idk, that’s my brain for ya. Champion of falsehoods.
The best news of all, though, is that after taking a REAL writing break, I felt rested enough that I could attempt NaNoWrimo! Double win!
✨I STARTED A NEW BOOK FOR NANOWRIMO✨
My newest project is The Cats of Rivenoak Academy, or ✨aCATemy✨ for short. The basic premise is that it’s a magical school book told from the POV of cat witch familiars. For me, it’s exciting because it’s first-person, multi-POV between three cats with very different personalities, which I’ve never done before.
[[Image shows three different colored cats with witch hats and jack o’lanterns.]]
During NaNoWriMo, I got 18000 words written, which is pretty okay considering I quit around day 17. As I said on my Tiktok, I had gotten three migraines by day 17, and I had a sore throat. (I’ve had a lingering cough since about November 12th, lol fml–I think it’s because my downstairs neighbors are smoking. The joys of renting. 🙃)
So I’ve got a starting point for the book. 18k is about 30% of my 60k wordcount goal for the book. I’m really aiming to write to spec for this one–i.e. To the market desires of a shorter middle grade book because ✨🙃we’re capitalists and we love saving money on page count.🙃✨ Friggen hate capitalism. Booooooo. Give me the fully automated luxury gay space communism I deserve. I just wanna make art and sleep. And stop people from smoking poisons near my breathing air kthxbye.
[[Image shows the meme “Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism”. It’s got vaporwave vibes.]]
✨I RANG IN THE NEW YEAR WITH FRIENDS✨
So even though I started my first quarter of 2022 with covid (January) and then norovirus (March), and feeling bad about a lack of productivity, it actually turned out to be a pretty good year. I have a sweetheart who is the bees’ knees. I have friends who are interesting and cool creator type folks. And I have writing projects that are fun and inspire me. AND A CAT. fuck. The cat is great. My kingdom for this boy:
[[Image shows my BOY. (He’s a tabby cat with a cobby face and stumpy ears with grandpa hairs.)]]
Oh, and before I forget, I did finally get a little interest on Magic Princess Academy! I don’t know if it will come to anything, but an agent I queried in May of 2022 got back to me asking to see 50 pages in December of 2022. (Including dates so people can see what the wait times in the business are like.)
I ended 2022 eating a profuse amount of cheese and grapes, surrounded by friends, and petting a cat. Good vibes going into the new year all around!