Changing your life’s course isn’t easy. I wrapped up 2016 wallowing in the sorrows of a more-than-difficult year. As the New Year’s Eve countdown approached, I set a new trajectory: climb out of the pit, loosen my grip on the problematic past, listen to the universe, and reach toward a promising future. The decision launched me toward a year of firsts no one could have predicted.
First on my list was to put myself, well… first. To allow myself to focus on my passions instead of clinging to others’ expectations. I took risks, I failed, and I grew as a person and artist.
As you read through my year of achievements, please understand my purpose in sharing them. An artist’s journey can brutalize confidence. This list serves less as a boast of accomplishments than as a reminder to me that there were some.
Week one in January, I started my first professional writing job. It wasn’t for me, but the experience taught me that I can use the skill to make money. In the same month I filmed my first television role, a speaking part in 3030 Series. I also started convention modeling, which turned out to be my most lucrative new venture.
February proved monumental, and a tough month to top. In Show Dogs, my first feature film, I gained my first SAG voucher by playing a featured role. This prompted the creation of my IMDbPro account. (It’s sparse, but it’s mine.) Also in February, I accepted the position of Dime Grinds coordinator for my favorite writers’ group.
Attending Erica Vital-Lazare’s Writer’s Truth Workshop changed my life. Not only did I start a new story, I made an eye-opening discovery about my writing and myself. And just before Valentine’s Day, Writers Group of Southern Nevada selected a chapter from my novel for their “Love is in the Ink” themed Painted Stories. I officially came out as an author, including informing my very much in-the-dark family, and presented my work in front of a crowd.
March launched the first Dime Grinds, which I hosted with Joe Van Rhyn. At the event, I chatted with fellow writer, Brian Rouff, who suggested “Coming Out as an Author” as a brand. I played an extra on a national television show and wound up hanging with the star (along with several others from the production) in his private booth at Omnia. And my experience on the 3030 Series, led me to my first starring role in the short The Girl in Apartment 2.
In April, I earned my first publishing credit with a short story in Tales from the Silver State IV, a redemption-themed anthology. I ran for office in the Henderson Writers’ Group (and won). I worked on LIE, my first Bollywood film, with some of the nicest crew I’ve ever met. And I attended my first DragCon.
In May, I was featured in my first national commercial. I discovered the profitable world of instructional videos in June. And July allowed occasion for me to read at the Writer’s Block EXPO from my first published work, which actually sold books as a result.
Amazing August began with my venture into the land of Instagram. Much more fun than I imagined. The month improved with an audition hot streak. Not only did I land every job; one offered me an even better part. Even more exciting, I received an opportunity to travel abroad, which brings me to September.
London—my first solo out-of-country journey, where I entailed many new experiences, including tea with cream, West End Theatre, and letting myself get “picked up” in the name of research. The trip inspired a middle-of-the-night epiphany: where to conclude my too-long first novel. I arrived back in Vegas more confident and determined than ever, and before month’s end, I’d applied the final polish on my first completed manuscript and handed it off to my BETA readers.
October brought new firsts and fresh jitters. After encouraging feedback, (at least two BETA readers have read the story twice, and all claimed they’re ready for book two), I began the daunting querying process. Only a few nibbles so far, and one “Yes, but” contract. I’m holding out hope that the right agent will see my work by next summer.
In November, I appeared as Hamlet’s Ophelia for a live audience, my debut Shakespeare performance, which meant I also sang solo in public for the first time. This emboldened me to audition for another play, MorStar Production’s Ripe and Seedless. Mark March 17th and 31st on your calendars. I landed my first starring role in a full-length production. And fair warning. This, too, involves singing.
To conclude the incredible year, this December, I published my first Kindle book under a pseudonym, a naughty Santa/Alice in Wonderland mash-up poem. These opportunities shaped a new me. I’ve grown as an author, actress, teacher, and public figure. My knowledge and skill increased more than I considered possible in this short time. The greatest lesson I learned? No matter how tough the road, or how long the journey, the only way to get where you want to be is to keep moving.
I wouldn’t have believed I’d go to London nine weeks before it happened, let alone nine months. But I did. I didn’t think I’d be published this year. But I was. My insecurity had prevented me from auditioning for live theatre, and now I’m the lead in a play.
Am I a success yet? That’s debatable. I’ve millions of miles to go. But I am so much further than I ever thought I’d be and certainly closer than before taking steps to change my course. As I move into next year, I’ll carry my recent lessons and aim for bigger goals. Who knows where I’ll be next December? This I can say: I’m proud of this year’s accomplishments, and in 2018, I’m ready to achieve even more.
Tell me: What did you achieve in 2017, and what are your goals for this year?