Avon Van Hassel

Building Worlds and Filling Them With Magic

A couple friends of mine have posted this trend of choosing one word to define the year to come.

The word I chose for myself is:


I like this idea of choosing a focus word (no pun intended, though maybe it works) as a mantra or affirmation for the next year. I don’t know about you, but this year has been a dumpster fire for me, with a few really huge bright spots. In a positive way, not like a solar flare.

I went to Europe for a 3-week cruise and kicked the crap out of my bucket list, I made a lot of progress with my first two books and got a bit further down the road toward publication, I got my teeth fixed (yay!), I turned 30 (boo!), I saw some people I haven’t seen in a long time. Now, 2017 isn’t quite over yet, but I think it’s close enough to call it.  I won’t list all the bad things that happened, that won’t serve anything, and it won’t change anything. So as much fun as I have had, I won’t be sad to watch this year die.

And I’m clearly not the only one, which is why I love this idea of wiping the slate clean, closing the door, and moving forward with one single point on the horizon to focus on.

I chose ‘Focus’ for a few reasons.

-I need to focus on my needs. I am the kind of person who will happily put other people first. Part of the reason is because it’s the easy thing. It’s easy to do that one thing right now, it’s not a big deal. It’s easy to go along with whatever thing I’m not actually needed for because it avoids a fight. Even if it takes time away from things I need to get done. I have a career that I want to take seriously, I have a strict diet that is better for my body, I have a rigorous exercise schedule. All of these things are easy to set aside, ‘just this once.’ But ‘just this once’ becomes an everyday thing and before I know it, it’s been a week since I wrote last, I’ve got ridiculous heartburn, and my back is hurting again.

Selfish as it sounds, I need to focus on myself.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to cut myself off from the people who want my help, but I need to weigh what things I’m actually needed for, and what things are less important than my health and future.


-I need to focus on my work. This might sound like the same thing as the first one, but it’s not, it’s much more active. I have a tendency to be on call, and I get pulled away a lot, so it gets hard to dive deep into my work immediately. I like to surf Facebook or play Solitaire to decompress and put myself in the space to work, and if I keep getting up and sitting down, getting up and sitting down, it becomes a lot of Solitaire and not a lot of writing.

Or reading. Or social networking, editing, beta reading, researching, or studying. Writing is so much more than sitting down and telling a cute little story. It is so much work, y’all. So much work. Especially if you’re trying to find an agent or worse, self-publishing. It’s not just the story, it’s everything.

I need to be able to *snap* drop back into my work and actually get it done.


-I need to focus on the positive. I was talking to a new friend recently and I realised that I am almost never not angry when I talk to her. I’ve known her for a little over a year, but we’ve only been friends for a couple of months. She has a totally inaccurate impression of me. I am not an angry person. I used to describe myself as having the emotional variability of wet sand, because I’m normally pretty stable emotionally. I used to be able to count the times I could remember being actually angry on one hand. I’ve lost count in this one year alone.

I am not an angry person.

The negativity swirling everywhere is out of control and it finally got through my granite wall. The thing about focusing on the positive is not ignoring the negative, it’s not pretending the world is all sunshine and smiles, it’s choosing to internalise only what buoys you up and not what pulls you down.

And if I can get political for a moment (of course, I can. It’s my blog.), focusing on the positive is not the same as complacency. You can focus on the good in the world while at the same time fighting the bad, and you must. You must protect yourself in order to defend others. You do not have to sacrifice yourself for the greater good, don’t let overwrought fiction make a martyr of you.



If I can combine these three types of focus, I think I can really heal myself and get myself on track where I want to be.

I’m actually pretty drained from writing this blog post. It’s quite a bit outside my comfort zone to talk about my personal life like this, but this idea of a single word really speaks to me and I wanted to share.

If you could choose one word to focus on for the coming year, what would it be?

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