Just recently my best friend – we shall call her BETA ONE (this because she was the very person to ever edit any of my work – lucky her. Our shared past is littered with overly dramatic poetry, flowery romantic intrigues, and a singularly TERRIBLE “novella” entitled The Informer) – and I were discussing our philosophies about New Year’s Day. BETA ONE pointed out that she always finds the first few days of the new year depressing – it makes her think of time passing – but that she loves the week between Christmas and New Year…it’s, in some sense, a week out of time. Everything slows down; there’s no work to be done, no obligations to fulfill beyond those dictated by family (and those are usually fun!).
I feel very differently. For me the week between Christmas and New Years is the week I feel most aware of time passing. This year it's a decade, really, that is drawing to a close. The last week of December seems to take forever, giving me plenty of time to ruminate on how quickly the rest of the year – the rest of my life - seems to be passing by. And then I get to January first, and the world is full of promise again. It’s a new year! A fresh start! What wonderful, incredible things could happen in the next 365 days? I’ve always been an “anticipator” – planning ahead, longing for the future. Of course, as I get older, increasingly I find myself wishing I could slow down, stop and appreciate each moment a little more.
My budding writing career is a good way to practice this “slowing down” technique. Everyone says the publishing industry moves at a glacial pace and, from my experience, I have to say “everyone” is right. I’ve found that the only thing that keeps me sane when waiting to hear back from editors about a submission, or my agent, Wendy, on something I’ve sent her to read (though she’s amazingly fast, which I SO appreciate), or beta readers on a new manuscript, is appreciating each small step in the process. It’s true that if you don’t like the writing part of creating a book, you are probably in the wrong field. The act of getting published will not make up for the hours and hours you spend actually doing the work of writing if you don’t enjoy it.
I am NOT a patient person. Ask BETA ONE. Or my husband, who shall be known henceforth as MAJOR HOTSAUCE. And yet, between my fairly new role as an Army wife, and my experiences so far with the publishing industry, I’m learning. Slowly, painfully, with much kicking, screaming, and general gnashing of teeth, I’m learning.
My resolutions for 2011?
To continue my education in being patient. On MY terms. I will focus my attention and angst on those things I can control – how much time I spend writing each day, the desires and needs of my characters. What I can do to support MAJOR HOTSAUCE during his latest deployment.
To exercise more. Because passing out at the end of the day after one of MAJOR HOTSAUCE’s CrossFit workouts is better than laying in bed half the night, staring at the ceiling, wondering what the heck editor X is thinking about my novel, or what Wendy will say about the latest work in progress.
To enjoy. Enjoy writing. Enjoy each step in the publishing game. Enjoy the sunlight on my face, the familiar strains of my favorite songs, the loving, slobbery kisses of THE KIDS, ie, my dogs.
Which do YOU like better, the last week of December or the first week of January? What are your resolutions for 2011? What experiences or moments are you determined to really enjoy?