Tamoja Presents: Big Steps & Reflections

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*walks in wearing party hat*

Welcome to the 2018 block party! I can't believe it's already rolled around again and another year has gone by. And what it Year it was! Wattpad authors are branching out into bookstores everywhere. Books on shelves, books on tape and even movies!! Whoa. This year even the big orange W itself has branched out with new and exciting apps like Racoon and Tap.

This world we live in is constantly in motion and as authors, we have to be as well. Staying complacent and still can be comforting, but also keeps you out of the race and turns you into the person holding out the cups to the runners who pass by. That is not where you want to be! Unless you do, I respect that. Those people can make or break the runners and they get my total respect. (Ok- wandering topic averted)

This year has been an exciting time for all of us. Those of you starting out are challenging yourselves by being brave enough to put your words out there in public and letting your voices be heard. And that, is amazing.

Those of you who've already put in your newbie time and are building your skills are really upping the bar and bringing the goods! Let me applaud you here - because what I see in the feed and the books I currently have bursting my library shelves is some holy cow incredibly fantastic work that makes me swoon.

For me this year is been incredible. I won a Tap Watty-- and was shortlisted for a regular watty. I finished two books that fit the word count of "actual books" (over 50k words). And, I've sent my first full book to an editor to start the process of querying an agent. Big steps.

Big steps that wouldn't have been possible without all the little steps. Every failed book, every glitch, every single tear shed over dreams I was sure were washed up. Those were the moments that defined who I would be now. (Stay with me here I'm making a point - I promise).

Today as I sit down to write this piece I took a moment to reflect on where I thought I'd be today last year when I wrote my blockparty post. Truth is- laying it all on the line- I had big dreams. I envisioned myself wattfamous. A star by my name, triple the followers, and having so many comments I'd have to dedicate time every week just to answer. And let's not forget the NYT bestseller. Oh yeah, that was the backup plan. :)

None of those things happened. But some really amazing things did. Spontaneously wonderful things that I wouldn't change for any of the dreams listed above. I wrote stories I'm proud of. Stories I'd be proud to take to someone I respect and not look down towards the floor nervous.

I went to another Wattcon!! In Toronto this time. And filled my brain with people that I'd pick every day of the week to be stranded on an Island with because they are so talented and kind and fascinating I'd never get tired of them. I got to see Wattpad Headquarters which is truly the Disneyland of authors. The people who work there would hands down be some of Walts favorite people because they are truly exceptional. Whoever does the hiring there - props to them because they have gathered together people who care and are passionate and funny and bursting with energy. They are people you just want to be around, and that's a gift.

But most of all this year - I grew. I grew as a writer, as a reader, and as a human. This year I struggled. As we all do. I lost two dogs, fostered a preemie baby, watched my marriage crumble, and wept over a world that just can't seem to get that every damn person of every color, creed, sex, nationality, sexual preference, and any other category you can give me deserves respect, love, and dignity.

But in all the sorrow, the heartache, the rage and the frustration - there is promise. Because this year- I survived. No, I didn't just survive- I grew. And I won't stop. And you can't either.

I'm so lucky. Beyond words lucky because I have a tribe. A group of women (it just worked out that way - we didn't start out with that intention) from wattpad that I speak with every single day. Sometimes it's about writing. Sometimes it's about how we cried so hard wine came out our nose. Whatever the topic - even if it's a silly joke as we're walking out the door it's a connection.

If I can give you a single strategy for making it this year, a single piece of advice to hold you together when the whole world seems to be trying to knock you down, it's this - find your people. The ones who don't judge. The ones who "get it". The ones you can't make it through the day without. Because they are the family that pushes you to grow.

So I'm talking a lot about growth - (did you notice there was a theme to all this babble?) and the reason I wanted to talk about it is because if you don't grow- you're stuck. And no matter how wonderful where you are right now is- someday you're going to want to reach higher.

I don't care how you grow. Grow stronger, wiser, grow in your ability to write more words or with less mistakes. Grow in knowledge, or grow in the way you learn to help others or finally grow enough to get brave enough to ask for help yourself. Whatever it is you need- GROW.

I don't have a secret formula for what it is you should do. But you know that already. And if you don't - examine yourself - that's the key to growing. Seeing where you are and where you need to be is the key to starting the process. What do you want, and how are you going to get it?

That's about what I have for this years block party. That, and my thanks for being the people who make my life better. Wattpad is magic, and as tremendous of a platform as it is, it's only as good as the people who roam here. That's you. You are what makes this place succeed. Every interaction, enthusiastic post and shout, every download and upload and every vote and share. Together we make this community what it is. Let's use it for positive things like uplifting each other. Let's show things like acceptance and kindness that goes against what the outside world says is possible when people from all walks of life get together in a single place. Let's Grow.

We don't have to be bff's with everyone. But let's strive to be supportive, to realize we're all dealing with joy and sorrow and a million pounds of baggage that no one else can see. This is where we escape the ugliness, the noise, the reality and do this- gather at a virtual block party reading the ramblings of someone who just has too much to say. (Lol)

So remember wattheads.

-ALWAYS BACK UP YOUR WORK ON MULTIPLE SITES. (Yep- I went there)

-BE THE PERSON YOU WANT TO BE

-GROW. AND NEVER STOP GROWING

-FIND YOUR TRIBE

-BE KIND- ALWAYS

Those are the secrets to the universe that make happiness. They won't stop your struggles. Life is full of rough times and unfair moments - but they will help you get through them. They will lead you a hand that's there for the holding when you need it. And that, sounds like the perfect place to do all the growing you can.

My name is tamoja. I'm 3 years in and happily serving a WP life sentence. (Haha). I came here with the hopes of reading some great books on the advice of a teen and have never looked back. Wattpad is home and home is wherever your heart is. My motto has always been be kind, and this year it's expanding. *Always be kind and part of the solution*. I like it, and I live it.

Feel free to stop by and chat - no follow necessary. I'm pretty easy to chat with- but beware - I'm a hugger. 

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