Autumn Cleaning: Re-evaluating Things #writerslife

by Ronel Janse van Vuuren

I wasn’t sure what to write for this month’s post: I have so many ideas! But with the feeling of Spring/Autumn in the air I went with that.

In my part of the world it is Autumn. It’s a beautiful time of year when the leaves turn into shades of orange, red and brown before creating a carpet of leaves on the brown grass. The days become cool and the nights become freezing.

For me, it is a time to do some cleaning. Yes, like Spring cleaning, but in the Autumn.

Autumn cleaning isn’t about getting rid of the cobwebs of Winter. No, it’s about re-evaluating things. Like scanning in the articles I like from magazines I own before taking the magazines to the library for others to share and delight in; sorting through my closet and donating the clothes I no longer wear or want to those who need it; re-evaluating my writing priorities for the year ahead.

And this year: re-evaluating friendships.

I’ve been part of a large women’s organisation since 2010. I’ve attended all the functions, made sure I wore the right colours and had outfits for every occasion. I organised my fair share of events and dealt with the accompanying headaches. I’ve given and given and given. I thought it would pay off.

But at our yearly big get-together I asked for something for the first time. And… I have to admit that I find myself disappointed. We had agreed at our last meeting that I would do a short reading from my book, talk a bit about it, put my business card at each setting and sell a couple of books to those interested.

When I arrived they wanted to cut me out of everything entirely… I had to stand up for my rights (without getting too much into it: we all had to contribute financially to this venture and we didn’t have entertainment for the day – which is why I volunteered to read and do a signing for free). The rest of the group – the ones I only see once a year – listened to me, some bought a copy of my book, we took photos, chatted, and had fun.

Only four from my group were interested in supporting me (one being my BFF since forever). One from my group outright told me that my business cards didn’t fit with her tables (despite it matching the colour scheme and it being something we’ve decided on at our meeting). Let’s not get into the rest. Like saying you haven’t got money, yet you spent more than twice the amount for a book on playing the horses five minutes earlier…

I know fantasy – especially dark fantasy – isn’t for everyone.

Some of my sales will come from ebooks and audiobooks (I have met a lot of women who either cannot read anymore because of failing eyesight or don’t have the space for physical books anymore). But they have my business card. It was good. Some will buy the English version when it comes out in July. That’s excellent. I made another impression on people. (Which is why live events are great.)

Yet… The effort I had to go through, the planning, the hope of support from my friends – I’m not sure it paid off. If I look at what I’ve done over years and what I got in return…

I think it might be time to only focus on things that really help my career, be with people who actually support my writing (like a few of my friends from this group do) and stop adding extra stress to my life. Some people just have the way to rub you the wrong way and add unnecessary stress to events.

If I can stop writing flash fiction and be a flash fiction judge, then I can stop being part of a group that doesn’t work for me anymore and stop being friends with people I’ve outgrown.

Easier said than done, though.

Re-evaluating things are always difficult. But once the decision is made, deadlines set and commitments made, things usually go okay enough.

If you want to see photos and hear news about my first signing, stop by my blog on the 25th of April. Can’t wait to have you over 🙂

Do you have a yearly ritual of re-evaluating your life? Have you ever had to cut ties with people for whatever reason? Have you ever attended a book signing?


Ronel Janse van Vuuren is the author of New Adult, Young Adult and children’s fiction filled with mythology and folklore. Her dark fantasy stories can be read for free on Wattpad and on her blog Ronel the Mythmaker. She won Fiction Writer of the Year 2016 for her Afrikaans stories on INK: Skryf in Afrikaans. Her published works can be viewed on Goodreads.

Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing

9 thoughts on “Autumn Cleaning: Re-evaluating Things #writerslife

  1. I’ve never been forced to cut ties with anyone because they don’t support me, but if I were you, I wouldn’t be involved with that bunch of snobs that wanted to cut you out of the program altogether. They’re not worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, Ronel,
    I think you made the right decision. An in-person writing group should be supportive of all members. Maybe there’s another group in town that you can investigate and is perhaps more supportive.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m with you – I get in a fall cleaning frenzy. I’m not a spring cleaner. By then, I’m out in the garden enjoying the fresh growth and colorful blooms.
    I’m sorry this came up with your organization. Throughout life it seems that there are always things that need reevaluated. Sometimes friendships, sometimes activities, sometimes simply the decor that surrounds us. But as we grow and evolve, and our lives reflect this growth – sometimes it is time to move on.
    Good luck with your new book coming out!


  4. I can’t imagine the disappointment of being on the program–and preparing so carefully for it–and then learning you’re not on the program. It must also have been uncomfortable for you, but I’m glad you stood up for yourself. As for cutting ties–yes.

    I’ve attended two book signings for the anthologies I have stories in–the only times I got to sign–and a number of them for writers I know, or whose work I know, at the independent book store where I often write (I use the coffee shop as an office). One for Donna Tartt was so crowded that I had to sit on a couch behind bookshelves and never saw the author. I stood for forty-five minutes when Isabel Allende signed there–got to see her, but my feet were killing me the whole time. The couch was already taken.


  5. We have some friends for a season, and then we need to move on. Sounds like success lies in moving on for you, as well as self-satisfaction and support in your writing! Good luck and give yourself a hug!


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