New Year, New Priorities
2018 has been the busiest year of my life.
In January I signed with my superstar agent, Kathleen Rushall, in May I switched to the UberEats team at work, in June I sold EMMY IN THE KEY OF CODE (HMH/Versify September 24, 2019), and in October I got married. Throughout the year I published over a dozen crossword puzzles, I began the research on a new book project that I finished drafting during NaNoWriMo, I expanded my freelance editorial/writing/speaking business, and just last week I hit my goal of reading fifty books before the new year.
And I don’t want to complain! I’ve been working toward so much of this for the better part of a decade, and I’ve been dreaming about it for far longer. And I’m so excited about what’s to come that I’m actually looking forward to the end of the holidays so I can get back to work!
But also this year has pushed me to my breaking point.
I’ve always been a “say yes to everything” kind of person. Commit to it now, and figure out a way to make it work later. And that’s been a successful strategy for me thus far, but as my authorial career begins, I can’t pretend that this is the best strategy for me moving forward.
There was a point in 2018 when I was trying to hit a deadline for an Uber project, while also turning around a revision of EMMY, all in the final weeks before my wedding. I was pulling 18 hour days, 7 days a week, for about two months, and by the time my wedding rolled around, it felt like a vacation.
I can’t do that again this year.
I *could* do that again this year.
I could spend 2019 the same way I spent 2018.
I could go another year without taking a day off.
I could keep waking up at 5 AM because I’m too anxious to sleep through to my alarm.
I could continue juggling four different high-priority projects at any given time.
And I could spend another year canceling on friends because I didn’t realize how overwhelmed I’d be with work.
I could do all this
but I’m not going to.
In October of 2018 I made the decision to go part-time at Uber.
Starting in January, I will be working only three days a week, leaving me with two extra days a week to write, research, travel, and rest.
On the one hand, this seems like an obvious win: I’m lucky that I can afford to make this switch, and I’m lucky that Uber is supporting me in this decision. Plus, I’m optimistic that it will give me the balance that I need to remain energized on all projects I choose to take on.
But on the other hand, this is kind of terrifying: I’m the first engineer at Uber to take on a part-time schedule, so this is a huge experiment for everyone involved. Plus, not only am I taking a 40% pay cut, but I’m going to miss out on high-visibility projects, and it’s going to be nearly impossible for me to ever get promoted again, much less become a manager, which is something that I’ve always thought I wanted out of my tech career.
I also have no idea how long-term this plan is.
There’s a chance that this is the ideal balance for me, but there’s also a chance that I want more days a week to write, and I end up leaving tech entirely.
It could also swing the other way, and I may realize that two days a week of writing is too much, and that I miss the social interaction of an office environment.
And what happens if EMMY is a total bust and what if I can never sell another book again and what if it turns out that the very fact that I was stressed all the time is what made me a productive writer?? And what if and what if and what if and what if…
I have no idea what’s going to happen
but I do know that I’m so excited for 2019.
I’m excited for the world to meet Emmy.
I’m excited to take Sundays as a rest day.
I’m excited to write my new project.
I’m excited for all the travel I have planned in the new year.
I’m excited to sometimes spend those extra two days binge-watching Netflix.
And I’m excited to look back at this post one year from today and think about how I had absolutely no idea what was in store for me in 2019.
Happy new year everybody!
Aimee Lucido is the author of EMMY IN THE KEY OF CODE and the upcoming RECIPE FOR DISASTER (Versify, September 14, 2021). She’s a software engineer who has worked at Google, Facebook, and Uber, and she got her MFA in writing for children and young adults at Hamline University. She lives with her husband and mini golden doodle named Bowser in Berkeley where she likes to bake, run, and write crossword puzzles.