Welcome to the first tea party of 2022! How was our 2021 you ask? Well… let’s get into it. Pour yourself your favorite warm beverage and join us!
1. What are some of your favorite JAAM moments from this past year?
Starting? Ha ha. I am glad to have started. I feel like that is the biggest hurdle a lot of projects face, and after a lot of planning, we’ve started, and we’ve kept up with it for a year. I have tried doing collaborative projects with friends before, and a lot of them never got past a planning stage. I am glad this one has.
We have meetings almost every two weeks, and I’m always happy to talk to my two friends and see their faces, even if it’s over a video call. That’s another favorite thing.
Everything? I love being able to read my favorite authors’ content, like, all the time. I love being able to Skype them every two weeks for check-ins that turn into basically long-distance slumber parties minus the sleep. I love seeing how much we can get done (sometimes *just* in time). Also, brainstorming and writing the group Christmas picnic was so fun, and now I want to do it all the time.
I love our meetings! Getting to talk to Raspberry and Pineapple is always the best time. From discussing JAAM to just catching up, being able to spend that time with them is my favorite thing about this. I would also add getting to read their writing, but I was blessed enough to get to do that before JAAM even existed. Like, I really won the friendship lottery. I love and respect these two so much; I couldn’t imagine doing this without them!
2. What has been one of the biggest challenges for JAAM from this past year?
Just… making sure we have the content ready every week. I started out with about a six-month buffer of chapters before we started and now I’m down to none. I’d like to build that up again, and I think it will be easier with a continuous storyline. We hit some bumps along the way, with life situations and job situations and covid and the winter storm in Texas, but there are three of us, thankfully, so things have been pretty okay.
We’re figuring out a lot of things for the first time still, but it’s been relatively smooth.
Social. Media. I am still so bad at being an engaging person on social media. Creating things, trying to understand SEOs and audiences in a marketing sense is hard. Also, content warnings. I’m starting to realize I can do the writing part, but I’m awful at almost everything else haha
I think we would all love it if we only had to do the writing and reading parts of JAAM, but there are so many other parts that go into this. We’ve had to do a ton of studying when it comes to having a website and figuring out social media and stuff, and there’s still even more learning to do. It’s definitely worth it, though. I’ve gotta let people know how talented my friends are. On a personal level, balancing JAAM with the rest of life has been rough, and I couldn’t have continued doing this without Raspberry and Pineapple having my back the way they do.
3. What message would you like to pass on for yourself in the next year?
“You’re doing good, keep going, keep planning.”
I am proud of how far we’ve come. I did finally celebrate our one-year anniversary and the debut of my new story. I’d like to continue to reach for higher goals while celebrating the things we achieve along the way. There are still a lot of things I want to do, and a lot of things I’d have liked to have done better or differently this year, but that doesn’t mean that this year wasn’t successful in its own rite.
“You’re doing great. You’re so lucky to still be doing this with your two closest friends/fam. Also, I really hope you’ve learned to de-stress a bit.” I’m so proud of all of us for the things we accomplished in this last year. We made a website! We made a bunch of original content! I learned how to tweet! But also, I really hope I’m not putting as much on my plate next year. I love having two ongoing projects (plus 2 in development shhhh) at the same time, but I’d love it even more in a time where writing is my full-time job and not an extracurricular.
I was just about to type out a list of all the things I could have done better last year (note: everything), but that is definitely not helpful or healthy, so I’m gonna go with, “Don’t beat yourself up,” and “Don’t ignore the good things.” Also, “Go to sleep. Please. I am begging.”
4. What is something you have learned from this past year at JAAM?
I learned a lot of things I didn’t know before, like SEO and image sizing. Aside from practical things, I think I’ve become better about planning and communicating. Not just because of JAAM, but in other aspects of my life, too.
I’ve also learned and am constantly reminded how important Raspberry and Apple are to me. We video chat often and text more often, and none of this would be possible without both of them. Not just as critique partners or business partners, but these two are irreplaceable friends. I feel like I don’t express that enough about the people in my life.
I’ve learned more about SEOs and the technical/marketing aspects of being a writer. And I’ve also learned that I need to learn a lot more in those areas if I want to contribute to the team. I’ve learned to relax on my self-imposed deadlines a little, because honestly, I would have worked myself to death if I tried to keep to my own schedule. I’ve also learned more about pulling inspiration for writing. My projects have come from random tropes mixed with a vague fanfic idea I had from years ago, from a writing exercise I did with Pineapple and Apple a long time ago, and a few “why not”s. And it’s been so fun.
I think I’ve gotten better about letting go of the ideal versions of my story plans and outlines. I am lightyears away from being a perfect writer and even further away from being a fast writer, but this past year has taught me that’s okay. I just need to learn to work with those things. Even if I’m not posting the unattainably perfect words I wish I could, I’m posting something—and maybe growing a smidge closer to them with all this practice in the process.
5. What is something you wish you had known this time last year?
I wish I had known what a challenge the art would be. It is, of course, something I willingly undertook and something I will continue to work on, but at times it is a grind and I’m not up to the standard I wish I was. I need a lot more practice to get to where I want to be. I am happy with some pieces while others I’m not, and I want to redo some of the older ones. I had different visions at the beginning than I do now, and so some of the art is a bit outdated compared to the vibe we have now. It is a challenge to keep on-brand all the time, but it changes as we do, and it’s been a lot of fun to grow together.
I’ll stop talking about the marketing (even though I really want to know but my brain keeps throwing out the information regarding it). I think there are a lot of things that would have been (and still would be) good to know this time last year. But I also think that I wouldn’t trade this growing process for foresight or knowledge before. I got to learn new things with my best friends and create new things with them at the same time. We are growing together and exploring the unknown as a team.
It gets better. It’s absolutely been a hard year for everyone, but it does get better. Or it will if it hasn’t yet. Especially when you have such wonderfully supportive fam like Raspberry and Pineapple.
But, like, an SEO/social media cheat sheet would have been cool, too.
What do you think? How was your 2021? Let us know in the comments or @JaamWriting on Twitter!