Feb. 21, 2021: The Gap Year
The Gap Year. Defined as the year when a student, typically between high school and college, puts their life path on hold to experience things off the beaten path. They may take a breather from academic pressures to travel, work, or try out things that are not normally a part of their everyday existence.
The personal growth that these students usually experience is seen as a valuable component in helping them ultimately design their adult life. The lessons learned, values uncovered, and self-discovery that often comes from a gap year can help to clarify priorities and goals.
Although I am a 60-something woman with a successful career as an educator, I feel like the pandemic has forced my writing career into a Gap Year.
It is not that I am not writing, because actually, I have done more writing this year than last. But it has forced me to hit the pause button on so many of the things that were instrumental in allowing me to build my career path as an author. Book signings, author talks, conference presentations, school visits. These all came to a screeching halt last March. At the time, I thought it would be temporary and brief. Maybe through the summer. I felt sure that by the fall, which is usually a very busy time for me, I would be once again booking events and meeting with readers.
While most Gap Years are chosen pathways for those who are partaking of them, this has been a forced-upon-me-Gap-Year.
I realize I am not alone. Nearly every art form has been impacted. Actors and musicians who can no longer provide live performances. Artists who can no longer host live showings. New York’s Broadway community has been decimated.
Those who are at the top of any of these artistic professions are impacted less drastically as they can still sell CDs or pieces of art, and provide virtual concerts or performances, but everyone has been impacted.
As the reality of 2021 begins to take hold, I am coming to the conclusion that this gap year may be more like a Gap-18-months. Or a Gap-24-months. This can be extremely discouraging, or extremely freeing. Discouraging if I look only at what I am loosing. Months and months of lost opportunities to connect with readers, which ultimately help sales, which essentially helps strengthen my author-career. Or freeing, if I look at it as giving me permission to adjust expectations for sales and royalties and publicity, and focus on other parts of my writing career.
I chose to look at it as a freeing and productive time.
I will continue to use this time to work on my actual writing. With one novel in the research/planning stage, one in the drafting stage, one in revisions, and one in submission stage, there is always something on which to work.
I will embrace the opportunities (and time) to nurture my spirit through reading, cooking, gardening, and writing. Without the usual events, social activities, and commitments that fill my calendar, I will view the free time as a positive rather than a deficit.
I will accept that even when this gap time is over, life will look different. More events will inevitably be virtual, so I will take this time to work on my virtual presentations and virtual presenting skills. Rather than avoiding virtual events, I will seek them out.
To all of those who feel like your life was forced into a Gap Year by the pandemic, I wish you silver-linings, self-discovery, and success!