As we get closer to the end of the year, it’s natural – and even expected – to pause and think of everything we achieved (or didn’t) in the past year.

I took a few minutes to look back through my calendar. It has this lovely column to one side of each full-month spread where I wrote down my goal for the month. I wrote these goals in the innocence of January before the pandemic hit before I had any inkling of what this year might bring.

Goodness, did I have grand expectations!

I expected I would write a book every 2-3 months. I was generous and gave myself a little more time for editing and publishing, but I fully thought that by this time of the year I would have three books to my editor and be preparing to publish them.

So, where am I in truth?

I’ve written one book, two novellas, and I’m about four scenes away from being finished my second book. Book number three I haven’t even begun to think about. Will the first of these three books be published by early March as I’d originally planned? Absolutely not, I’m so sorry to say. I’m going to be lucky if it’s published by summer.

But you know what? That’s okay! It’s been a really difficult year—for everyone.

Our lives have been turned upside-down and inside-out so you and I need to give ourselves a break.

My Christmas present to myself this year is going to be the gift of understanding—understanding that it’s been a really hard year; understanding that it’s perfectly okay to not have completed all I’d hoped to complete in this crazy pandemic year which, for me, also included moving three times in three different countries on two different continents. (I moved from Belgium to the U.S., within the U.S., and I’ve just moved back to Europe—Vienna this time.)

We have all been dealing with the stress of a looming deadly virus, spouses and ourselves working from home, children schooling from home, and sometimes struggling just to go grocery shopping—not to mention those who have actually caught COVID or had a loved one get sick or pass away from this horrid disease. On top of this writers are expected to work, be creative, and produce wonderful entertainment for our readers to help them forget all their woes. Well… that may not have happened for many of us and that’s all right. We have all done our best this year.

So, I urge you to give yourself a break. Give yourself a little understanding. Give yourself a little love and kindness. It’s been a hard year and you did an amazing job just getting through it.

Well done!