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2023: The Year of Hard Things

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From about December 1st on, I’ve been wondering what I could possibly write about in a year-end post. Without reflection on the past year, things feel unfinished. But I didn’t do anything. I couldn’t think of one accomplishment or achievement for the entire year.

And then I was like, ah. That is mental illness trying to trick me.

I actually did a lot of things in 2023. And they were hard things. And they were hard things that were stacked up and up, stretching into the metaphorical sky, beyond the limits of what I thought I was capable of (and above what I ever could have been capable of just three years ago).

Yes, I’m being dramatic, but let me break it down month-by-month.


  • I turned in the second 30k words of the second season of Her Brother’s Billionaire Best Friend for the Yonder app.
  • While also rehearsing to play Bea in Something Rotten!.
  • Just two months after a car accident that left me without a functioning right arm.
  • And I survived the one year deathiversary of my best friend.


  • I turned in the third 30k words of the second season of Her Brother’s Billionaire Best Friend for the Yonder app.
  • I played Bea in Something Rotten!
  • And weathered a snowstorm that ruined our opening night.
  • I went ice skating for the first time in almost twenty-five years. It was like riding a bicycle.
  • I took my youngest kid to her first hockey game.


  • I had a super painful surgery to repair my non-functioning arm.
  • 48 hours later, I refused all pain relief except ibuprofen and ice packs so that I could get back to work.
  • Yeah, I was back to work two days after my surgery that needed a year to heal, because I am stubborn.
  • I turned in season four of Taken By The Alpha King to Radish.


  • I decided to make the most of my recovery and start reacting to Bridgerton episodes on YouTube (and discovered my love of video as a format for creation)
  • I began gruelling physical therapy for my still-shitty arm.
  • I was hired to direct a production of my late best friend’s favorite musical, The Music Man.
  • I turned in the first 30k words of the final season of Her Brother’s Billionaire Best Friend on the Yonder app.
  • Our family decided that we would move to Kalamazoo.


  • The Music Man went into production, casting, and rehearsals.
  • I went on my first audition post-surgery, for Big Fish (and didn’t get cast).
  • I turned in the second 30k words of the final season of Her Brother’s Billionaire Best Friend on the Yonder app.
  • I turned in season five of Taken By The Alpha King on Radish.
  • Taken By The Alpha King seasons 1-3 released in paperback and e-book.
  • After fifty years of living in the family lakehouse, Baba decided it was time to move into senior housing.
  • More physical therapy.


  • I turned in the conclusion to Her Brother’s Billionaire Best Friend.
  • Rehearsals continued for The Music Man.
  • I rode a float in the Kalamazoo Doo-Dah! parade to publicize The Music Man.
  • I had the honor of taking one of my cast members to their first ever Pride celebration.
  • I roller skated (AMA) for the first time since my surgery.
  • While it was desperately painful to do so, I missed my annual writing retreat for the first time in eleven years.
  • We started an apartment search.
  • We found (and secured) the perfect townhouse and began packing for our August move.
  • I started recapping The Missus on YouTube.
  • Hey, guess who was still in physical therapy!


  • Baba moved and we said goodbye to the lake house, the central magnet for family celebrations, with a final, subdued July 4th.
  • While having a quiet, reflective moment in the peaceful lake, I scraped my foot on a rock. Fuck you, too, lake.
  • I swallowed my hatred of participation and rode the float in another parade.
  • The Music Man, despite being a beautiful production praised by audiences, absolutely fucking flopped. The theater broke even, but my heart was broken. Still, it was a great tribute to Jill, and she would have loved it.
  • We continued to pack for our August move.
  • And I was still in physical therapy, which was beginning to wear me down.


  • I started writing The Ogre’s Fairytale Bride and developing the world of Fablemere.
  • Our move was delayed until September.
  • That scrape I got in July? Caused cellulitis that I was too busy to get checked out in July. Fuck you, too, lake.
  • I was hired as an accessibility and inclusion coordinator for a production of Matilda, Jr..
  • Grey’s Anatomy came into my life at the best possible time, because things were about to get shitty for me.
  • Guess who was still in physical therapy!


  • Our move was delayed twice, before being pushed back to October.
  • I began to lose my hair due to stress.
  • After hearing about my Fablemere project, Radish contracted me for a dark romantasy serial set within the world before The Ogre’s Fairytale Bride was even finished.
  • I started a rewatch of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on my YouTube channel, since the multiple Hollywood strikes temporarily paused my Bridgerton reacts.
  • Physical therapy ended and I began to grapple emotionally with the reality that my arm will never be the same as it was before the accident.
  • The Something Rotten! cast reunited to perform “A Musical” at the Theater Kalamazoo party in Bronson Park. I was one of the very few cast members who wasn’t in that number, so I had to learn it.
  • Then the event was rained out in the most impressive flash-flood way possible, cementing Something Rotten! as the most cursed show in existence.
  • The cellulitis finally went away, but the yeast infection caused by an endless parade of antibiotics lived on for two interminable weeks.


  • After living off paper plates for two months, and with all of our stuff packed up (some of it in a storage facility), Edward Rose & Sons canceled our move entirely after they changed their minds about allowing our previously approved emotional support animals. We received this news on move-in day as we pulled into the driveway with the truck.
  • We decided that moving was not in the cards for us, as we were all too exhausted from the stress to try again.
  • I was so destroyed by the entire moving debacle that I resigned from my position on Matilda, Jr..
  • I had to start wearing a wig or wide headbands to cover up my bald spots.
  • The Ogre’s Fairytale Bride began posting on Ream, Vella, and Patreon.
  • I started the impossible task of unpacking my entire house after all that was left to do was clean out and dispose of large items.


  • I auditioned for (and wasn’t cast in) The Lion in Winter.
  • I scored tickets to Patti LuPone at the Gilmore Piano Festival. Front row, so I’ll have to be on my best behavior.
  • I committed to a February writing retreat on a whim, based solely on the fact that I know like, one person who’s going to be there.
  • It’s on Hilton Head Island, so I began researching how to be bitten by a shark, a bucket list item of mine.
  • We were still unpacking.
  • My youngest child turned fifteen.
  • I suffered a moderate mental health setback after a real rectal prolapse of a person confronted me publicly with a written statement about how I don’t smile enough (read: mask my emotions to appear neurotypical enough).


  • I turned in The Princes of Pleasure and Torment, a Fablemere Faeries story, to Radish.
  • In a manic state, I wrote 60k words in ten days on various projects.
  • I should have used that manic state to unpack, because I still haven’t finished.
  • We managed to decorate for Christmas. We just decorated around the boxes.
  • I recovered from my episode and came back stronger than ever.
  • I was nominated for two BroadwayWorld Regional Awards, one for acting and one for directing, and The Music Man was nominated for Best Musical.
  • I went roller skating at the rink for the first time since my surgery, and only the second time since I got in my accident on the way home from the roller rink.
  • And yesterday, my eldest child turned twenty-one. He celebrated with donuts.

The TL;DR of it was that I had a supporting lead in a musical, directed a musical, weathered a major surgery and a canceled move, a major change in my family, faced numerous mental and physical setbacks, yet still wrote six full-length novels while producing online content.

I wrote earlier this year about “the grind,” and my perception of myself as lazy and worthless. Since then, I’ve adopted a new attitude: I can do and achieve big things. Hard things. I can spend months turning grief into collaborative art, and have the people who worked with me walk away having had a positive experience. I am a writer, even if I take a day off. And while I honestly could work harder at marketing and building my audience and rebranding and staying fresh…

I like where I am. I like what I do. I like writing what I want, when I want. I like making fun of bad books (or being pleasantly surprised by decent ones, like Modelland). I like making YouTube videos and being silly on TikTok and Bluesky. I’m happy with this. I’m happy with the me I was in 2023 and what I achieved. I don’t need to strive for greatness. To me, greatness very much looks like creating things I enjoy, for readers I enjoy, and half-watching Grey’s Anatomy while playing Fall Guys in my bed.

Will I get a massive traditional publishing deal with heavy marketing and become the next genre fiction darling by being comfortable with myself? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean I’m lazy. I’ve given myself permission to no longer want something that has burned me out countless times in the past, in an industry devoid of ethics, where the worst of the worst make big wins. Letting go of that dream that writers dream by default freed me to truly enjoy my work again. To see it as an escape, rather than something I want to escape from. I no longer fantasize about being a grocery store cashier.

And you know what? I don’t feel like a failure when I walk into a bookstore anymore. Bookstores are fun again, rather than some symbol of my inability to make it in traditional publishing. That’s probably why I’ve done so much reading this year, too.

That was the lesson I learned in 2023: I granted myself permission to not want. And in 2024, I’m giving myself permission to just be enough.

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  1. Laina

    I have also gotten into Grey’s Anatomy this year after decades of swearing it’s not my thing.

    Jenny, it is my thing. It is “two seasons in a week” my thing. Why is it so like that?????

    December 29, 2023
  2. Avery Knight
    Avery Knight

    Seeing it all laid out like that, that’s so much endured and accomplished! It really was a year of hard things, but you made it. You deserve to be proud of that. Here’s hoping next year is considerably easier, though!

    December 29, 2023
  3. Sarah Dorrance-Minch
    Sarah Dorrance-Minch

    That was one HELL of a year that you survived. Wow. I hope next year goes better for you.

    December 29, 2023
  4. Rory

    This is really beautiful and I am somewhat jealous. I want so badly to act again but my health has continually prevented me from being “reliable” and I get fired but this is honestly inspirational. Maybe I just need to figure out how to have fun with it again.

    I’m sorry about your accident but it’s amazing how much you’ve achieved. I hope that things keep looking up for you. You truly deserve that.

    December 29, 2023
  5. Moving is such a clusterfuck that I can’t fathom having to handle it all and *then* back off, I’m so sorry that you got jerked around like that.

    Also, I always remember one of your kids is about the same age as my eldest from Ye Olde Twitter Years — mine will turn 15 in a handful of months — but the eldest being 21! That threw me, how dare time march on.

    I wish you a wonderful and hopefully less hectic 2024!

    December 29, 2023

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