Friday, December 30, 2011

Leaving the Year Behind You

One can't move forward until one has recognized where he's been. I'd like to quote that from somebody, but I just made that up. In today's helter-skelter, ant-hill type of world, we're always rushing to get to some point, some place, some moment where life is better.

We never get there, frankly. It's never perfect. And I try so hard to live in the moment. Some moments are memorable. Some make us smile. Some rip our hearts out. But we learn from each one.

That's why we need to take time to recall what worked and didn't work for us in 2011, before we launch into 2012. NOT to do so, means you catapult yourself blindly into a new year, without rhyme or reason. Looking back gives you bearings for when you  turn around and go forward.

In looking back into 2011, I see so much. It was a trying year, a growing year, a thankful year - but then, shouldn't all years be like that?

== I spoke to a large writers conference in St. Louis, Missouri and made some very excellent friends.
== Writer's Digest asked me to do an online tutorial for them - quite an honor for me.
== Writer's Digest selected FundsforWriters for 101 Best Websites for Writers - for the 11th time.
== I became close to the editor of my mystery novel, coming out February 2012.
== I worked on several rewrites/edits to same novel, taking weeks and weeks of focus.
== I became close to a casual friend, a beautiful find. Now we frequent the beach to see her.
== I lost 12 pounds.
== My son married a phenomenal girl, and we enjoyed the full regalia of a wedding with all its dinners and showers 
== Another son adopted a black lab from a shelter, and I became a grandmother to a sweet dog. We share secrets.
== Same son left home to a new job a state away, leaving us with an empty nest.
== I enjoyed kisses from a four-year-old granddaughter we hadn't seen in two years.
== We lost Dixie, my mini-dachshund of 15 years, my shadow, my baby, after a long year of tending to her aging needs. I still tear up several times a week when I catch myself reaching for her in bed, listening for her steps in the hall as she comes to visit me in my study, looking for her to share a bite of whatever I find delicious on my plate.

So much experience. What have I learned?

How to compromise.
How to share.
How to appreciate personalities without judgment.
How to dig down deep and try harder.
How to meet expectations and when to meet my own instead.
How to be silent and proud.
How to love and let go.
How to love and embrace anew.
How to be thankful.

There. Doesn't that feel good? To look at the past, remember it in all its warts and sparkle, disaster and glory? Now, what do you plan for 2012? Keep in mind you have three categories:

== The goals you need to meet.
== The goals you want to meet.
== The goals you dream of meeting.

If you are indeed lucky, all three are the same, but in reality, some things we do as writers aren't that much fun - like marketing, maybe blogging, speaking, cold-calling, querying, web design. But once you've thrown away the last of the ripped wrapping paper and sent your guests back safely home, grab a hot cup of something soothing, a pad, and a pen that rests easy in your hand. Envision what you hope to be writing this time next year - the accomplishments you made in 2012. Then make those items your goals.

Happy, Happy New Year, my friends.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Hope--I love the way you divided goals into three categories.

I'm sorry about your loss. I still think--at unexpected times--that my hand will meet the top of Trixie's head as she nudges to get attention, and she died this past Spring. Pets carve a place into our heart that never get refilled. We can get another pet, and yet they find a DIFFERENT place in our heart.

I just realized one major reason why I'm looking forward to reading your book, despite the fact that mysteries are not usually the type of book I pick (although I'm sure it will enthrall me, as all well-written books do, no matter what the genre). It will be fascinating--after reading your posts about the editing process--to speculate which plot events you fought over, which word choices you agonized over, and so on...

(Just a thought. Have you considered taking a copy of your novel, and marking on it with some fascinating notes about "battles" you did with your editor, character development/plot events that you thought and rethought about? I imagine it would be a wonderful auction item at a writing conference. Just an idea...)

Cheryl Barker said...

Hope, I did some similar reflecting during Thanksgiving week as I recalled the many things I had to be thankful for from the entire year. Sometimes we forget how blessed we are. I can see how it would be beneficial to look at the things that didn't work so well, either. Good food for thought...

D.G. Hudson said...

I've been doing exactly what you're advising - assessing and making plans for my writing and blogging projects.

This is good business sense. I usually post my resolutions on Jan. 1st on my blog, in an effort to share what may be common concerns for writers and to improve the quality of my own content. I work on them throughout the year.

We lost our beloved cat in 2009 and eventually I wrote a short story/post (A Street Cat Tale)from his viewpoint. It's a type of closure on a sensitive memory. Time is the best balm.

Best wishes for 2012! Thanks for keeping us well informed.

Julia Munroe Martin said...

Wow! You've had quite an eventful year! You've encouraged me to look back too, an exercise I'll undertake this weekend! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Betty Snow said...

You are a wise woman. Thanks for passing your hard earned wisdom along to us.
Your newsletter piece on the three lanes of Talent, Discipline, and Luck hit me right between the eyes. Without discipline, the other two just aren't enough. Your essay inspired me to get in the middle lane and stay there.
Happy New Year.

Beth Blair said...

Hi Hope,

Thank you for sharing your joys and sorrows of 2011. I wish you the best for 2012!

Beth Blair

Cat York said...

Thank you for sharing so much with your readers. I look forward to every new post from you. I've been on a frustrating path for a several years and I've realized I'm at fault for not analyzing my time and my goals as carefully as I should have. By facing that truth, I'm able to carve a new path. I'm learning to be thankful for opportunities that were given to me, whether they worked or not. In everything, lessons can be learned, especially failing. I have better laid plans for 2012, and I really thank you for inspiring me to keep at it, make mistakes, be myself, and have a plan. It might be ever-shifting, but the more knowledge I gain, the better the plan gets.
Thanks Hope.
Looking forward to your book - if you come to Nashville on your tour - please post. Would love to see the woman behind Funds for Writers in real time.
-Cat York

Karen Lange said...

Have been thinking along the same lines, reflecting over 2011, and how I want to move ahead for 2012. Thanks for the food for thought.
Congrats on your successes!

Happy New Year!

Kelly Robinson said...

Just because it might get overlooked amid all the writing successes: Congrats on the twelve pounds! I know how hard every one is to lose when you're over...let's say...twenty.