Happy First Anniversary "Next Draft"
A look back (pt 1)
This week is the first anniversary of Next Draft with Diane Hatz. I thought I'd take the opportunity to look back over the past year and then peek into where things might be headed with myself and the newsletter.
When I started Next Draft, I was trying to keep my nonprofit, Change Food, afloat. I'd moved to New Mexico after thirty years in New York City and started my new chapter at the height of covid lockdown. I came up with (a very New York) idea to create a center for food, art, culture, and calm. For proof of concept, I planned on organizing an international event around food, bringing together leaders from around the world.
Then Delta hit. I scaled back and started planning a U.S.-only event. Then Omicron descended upon us all. That changed everything.
I moved to Santa Fe as a New Yorker, but as I spent more time here, I realized I was unhappy with my work. Food - even nonprofit food systems change - was now big business, with billions of dollars funding food startups and new nonprofits launching nearly every day. It seemed the money shifted a lot of attention from food advocacy to food businesses. And I realized it was no longer my thing.
I couldn't raise money in this new food world, or, more succinctly, I didn't have the passion to chase down money that some funder would still control. So I guess I could say I half-heartedly tried to keep Change Food afloat. But I didn't know what to do.
And that freaked me out for months. To help, I restarted my meditation practice and spent hours upon hours trying to feel my way into what I wanted to do. That was definitely difficult. As a recovering codependent people pleaser, I was used to doing what other people thought I should do. I also found that work had been a distraction that kept me from finding my joy. Oh, and should I mention I'm also a recovering workaholic?
For months, I watched white puffy clouds float across the blue New Mexican sky. Eventually, I realized I no longer wanted to participate in the rat race. I was done with all the outward grabbing for some illusion. Or perhaps I finally saw through it.
Those were my NYC years. After many clouds and quite a lot of anxiety, I realized I still had the same passion I had when I was 15. I wanted to write. And I wanted to make a good living at it.
So my new adventure started. I'd had a Medium account, a blog through Change Food, and had done some writing for my consulting company Whole Healthy Group, but it wasn't enough. I think I've made a whopping $3.16 from Medium in the years I've published on it.
I looked into writing for Fiverr and Upwork, and even took an essay class and looked into writing for magazines. No. No. No. I took a stab at Newsbreak but quickly realized I didn't want to be a news reporter. Another no.
During that time, I kept hearing about Substack, so I eventually launched the Whole Health Journal. I was still grasping on to Change Food, so it mainly focused on food and, well, bringing in old blog posts from previous websites as well as some pieces on my move to New Mexico. But I wasn't able to really sink my teeth into the newsletter.
At the end of 2021, I realized it was time. I shut down Change Food. It was not easy - it was like cutting off a cherished limb. But it had to be done to find what I was meant to do.
(Video design by Kri Pelletier, Firehorse, @firehorsewest)
I floundered for months and fell into a period of weepiness where I used a few too many tissues. But I needed it. I'm still peeling off layers of New York City, and I needed, and continue to need, time to fully get that life out of my system.
Don't get me wrong - I loved living there. And I'm so grateful for all my experiences, but I needed to move on.
A few months into this year, a friend from my early days in NYC reconnected with me. We met while temping in the call center at the Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center. This was after I was laid off from Island Records and before I got to Sony Music, so around 1991-1992.
Kri P. had read my book Rock Gods of Acht. I'd written it in the 1990s, indie published it in the 2000s, and never promoted it because I had such low self-esteem around my writing. She got in touch to tell me I had the book all wrong. It was not about the demise of the corporate music industry. It was about the search for self in a crazy corporate environment, as all large companies tend to be.
When Kri finished Rock Gods, she quit her office job. That's how much the novel inspired her.
After a few emails, a couple zooms, and much encouragement from her, I decided to republish the book with a preface, endnotes, and minor edits. Kri has been helping me all along the way. She designed the fantastic book cover and has created videos promoting it, including the one above. And most importantly, she's encouraged me whenever I get overwhelmed or unsure of myself.
That led me to take a deep breath and decide to jump all in. I'm now a full-time fiction writer. I renamed the novel Rock Gods & Messy Monsters and am indie publishing through my newly-created publishing imprint Whole Healthy Group. The book will officially release on September 7th.
I know I'm incredibly fortunate. I had been saving what money I could in the hopes of one day being able to buy an apartment in NYC. Because I had some funds tucked away and am not going to buy anything in NYC, I’m able to be an entrepreneur and focus 100% on books, at least for a year or two. The universe is giving me this chance, and I'd be foolish not to jump at the opportunity.
I also decided to rename my Substack Next Draft with Diane Hatz. The former name didn't fit the new focus. The newsletter now centers on my writing and the ins and outs of indie publishing. As well as some self development stuff. And that's where we are today.
Next week I'll touch on where I think I'm headed. And even though I have the occasional panic attack and sometimes wonder what in the world I'm doing, I'm finally pursuing the path I was meant to dance on.
I am a writer. Hear me roar.
Thanks for being here.
If you like Kri’s work, you can contact her through her company Firehorse. Just note that she’s an experiential designer (pop ups, spaces, etc), not a book cover designer. And she’s amazing! @firehorsewest
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