It's a New Year. Yay? (Penny Rader)

Joël, Evelyñ, François
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I have a secret, one I've never admitted to anyone.  Not even myself.

I dread the new year.

Sounds silly, doesn't it?  A new year should be, well, all fresh and shiny…and new, filled with anticipation and all sorts of possibilities.

I do wish I felt that way.  Instead, a new year brings new expectations.  It means I have to set goals for the year.  Goals I know I won’t reach – I haven’t met many goals I've set for several years.   I keep telling myself “baby steps.”  And I’ll occasionally make one or two of those baby steps, but they’re very few and far between.

Since negative people are such a drag to be around and I don’t want to be one of those people no one wants to be around, I work hard to keep a smile on my face and have a positive attitude, to be kind and non-whiny (yeah, big fail on that today), yet here I am in the new year:
  • Still not organized.  
  • Still not healthy or slender.  Mostly sick and tired of being sick and tired.  Have lost a few pounds, but still have quite a few to go. Blood tests always come back as normal.  Migraines and tummy issues flare up at really inconvenient times.  Sometimes medication helps, sometimes not.   Would love to have steady amounts of energy instead of almost constant fatigue, instead of looking at upcoming events and wondering if I’ll even have the energy required to participate in whatever family event, etc, is approaching.  I’m embarrassed by how relieved I am when there’s nowhere I have to be on the weekends or after work.  Too bad energy can’t be conserved and stored for withdrawals later.
  • Still haven’t finished another writing project.  Have barely made any progress on writing at all.  I've had one book published…over four years ago.  If I were a Harlequin author I would've been expected to have written 8 -12 books by now.  If I were a single title author with one of the big NY publishers that number would mostly like be 4 – 8 books.  At the minimum I figured I’d have at least another novel drafted by now (I am a slow writer) and working on polishing it (which is my favorite part of writing).  Writers write and I haven’t been.  
  • Still haven’t defeated my nemesis: fear.

So now that I've thoroughly depressed myself (and probably you, if you're still reading), I went hunting for some quotes to lift me out of my funk.  I figure if they inspire me or make me smile, then maybe they’ll be helpful to someone else.

Conor Thaxton
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“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I'm afraid of. ”  ― Joss Whedon

“One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I’m going to do my five or 10 pages no matter what, and that I can always tear them up the following morning if I want. I’ll have lost nothing—writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off.”
— Lawrence Block

“Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.”  —Ray Bradbury

“Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer.”
―  Barbara Kingsolver

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“Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.”
―  Jane Yolen

“I learned that you should feel when writing, not like Lord Byron on a mountain top, but like a child stringing beads in kindergarten, --happy, absorbed and quietly putting one bead on after another.”
―  Brenda Ueland

“This is for writers yet to be published who think the uphill climb will never end.  Keep believing. This is also for published writers grown jaded by the process.  Remember how lucky you are.”   ― Terry Brooks

"Believe in love. Believe in magic. Hell, believe in Santa Claus. Believe in others. Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. If you don't, who will?" ―  Jon Bon Jov

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“A writer is like a bag lady going through life with a sack and a pointed stick collecting stuff.”
―  Tony Hillerman

“Don’t forget – no one else sees the world as you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell.”  ―  Charles de Lint

"Don't look back. Write a page, turn it over, and move on. It's easier to make changes to a book that's finished."  ―  Mario Puzo

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is continually fearing that you'll make one.” ― Elbert Hubbard

Teresa Robinson
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“One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. Something more will arise for later, something better.”  ― Annie Dillard

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes and having fun”
― Mary Lou Cook

“No one can tell the story you can tell. No one knows it. No other human can feel the emotions swirling around your characters or feel emotion on behalf of those characters unless you put those characters on the page…. Have I convinced you that if you’re a storyteller who’s not telling stories, then the rest of us are deprived?”  ―  Beth Hill

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What do you do to get yourself out of a funk and rediscover the joy of life, of creating?


Tanya Hanson said...

HI Penny, I don't fear the new year as much as January. I hate the month. Christmas and all the attendant hoopla and fun is over...and it's the anniversary month of Hub's cancer diagnosis. Fortunately he got the "cured" word last year, praise now I like to treasure the days we are given.

There are always writing decisions to make. I hear ya there. I guess if writing isn't making one happy, they should take a break.

Hope you feel better, and thanks for the interesting thoughts.

Laura Strickland said...

Hi Penny, I agree with the Jane Yolen quote (and love her writing, incidentally). My version of it is, "I day without writing is like a day without sunshine." (Remember the old orange juice commercial? If day goes by chewed up by things like cleaning the house or doing the laundry and I haven't put pen to paper at least once ... well, that's a day wasted. Thanks for the interesting post!

Rox Delaney said...

Mixed feelings always accompany a new year for me. Hopes and dread. :) Or a "Oh, gee, another year gone and a new one to face" resignation.

I love all the wise sayings you posted, but I'm starting to learn that simply reading them and agreeing doesn't do a lot of good. We have to believe them. Without doing that, they're pretty but empty.

We all need a little more positive in our lives, and I know you, as well as I and the rest of us, have things that make us smile and feel happy. Focus on those, and let the others go. Once we can do that, we change how we feel, giving us the power to change more. (Yes, a little wacky inspiration from Rocks-in-the-Head.)

Pat Davids said...

Hugs, PENNY.
I had no idea you are feeling so low.

When I think of the cheery people I know I think of you. When I wonder who is coming to a WARA meeting, I always hope you'll be there. You're our founder. You are the reason I belong.

Your love of the written word knows few bounds. Look at all the wisdom you have collected for just this one post. You search and gather nuggets of inspiration and information for all us to use like the hyperactive squirrel from Over The Hedge.

Your friends love and admire you for who you are, not for what you write. We all know a person doesn't have to be a writer to love writing and books.

If writing has become something you dread doing, dread failing at doing, give yourself permission not to write a single thing this year. Make your goal 0 words.

No word count goal.
No deadlines.
No stress about writing.

Honestly, we will love you the same.

You have accomplished a great thing in writing a book. It's something few people will ever achieve. I know you wanted to do more but maybe one great love story is all you had in your heart.

Even if that's the case, you are still a valuable member of WARA. I can't imagine where we would be without your smiling face.

Penny Rader said...

Hi Tanya,

Thanks for stopping by. How wonderful that your husband got the "cured" word. That must be a huge relief. Though I can see how January is an annual reminder of a really scary time for you. May you be blessed with years and years and years of days together with your hubby.

Penny Rader said...

Hi Laura,

I haven't read any Jane Yolen books yet. Do you have any recommendations?

I do like your sunshine reference. Thanks.

Penny Rader said...

Rox said " ... simply reading them and agreeing doesn't do a lot of good. We have to believe them. Without doing that, they're pretty but empty."

You are right, Rox. I gotta work on that believing thing.

I nearly deleted today's blog post a half dozen times because every time I read it I felt so, I don't know...stupid and whiny and unworthy. And I thought this is a blog to encourage writing. How's my complaining going to help anyone?

I try to keep reminding myself that others are having a much tougher time than I am. I tell myself to be grateful for the good things in my life. I have a job, a roof over my head, a car, fabulous kids & grandkids, a husband who cooks for me, a great group of friends through WARA.

Somewhere I have a gratitude journal I started a long time ago while reading Simple Abundance. Tonight I'm going to go find SA and begin re-reading its daily essays. They almost always comforted me or gave me a sense of peace when I first discovered the book a couple decades ago and I'm sure they will again. Funny, sometimes just holding a book gives me comfort and peace.

Penny Rader said...

Oh, Pat. Thank you so very much for the hugs. And thank you for helping me give myself permission to not stress about writing this year. [Wiping away tears.] Good to know I won't be kicked out of WARA for taking a sabbatical from writing and that maybe it's okay if my monthly posts are sharings of bits and pieces (or bits and bytes?) I find while wandering the web.

I do have one decision I have to make soon. The grace period for my RWA dues ends the 31st. I've been a member since 1986 and wonder how I will feel if I allow my membership to lapse and undo what I have accomplished. If I had never found RWA I don't know if I would have met all the friends I've made in WARA and RWA or if I would've ever finished S&G, let alone share Derek and Alexandra's story with the world. We'll see what the 31st brings. For the next few days I'm not going to worry about it. Que sera sera.

Thank you again for your kind words. I'll keep them close to my heart.

Rox Delaney said...

It's late, but I'm trying to catch up before hitting the pillow, and I want to say I agree 100% with Pat about not writing. If you make yourself write when you don't feel like doing it, you'll hate it. A break sounds excellent. If something spurs you to put words to paper--any paper--do it. Otherwise, don't. Lots of writers have to take a break, not to mention that we all have things we have to do but don't want to. A chance to not have to something is a gift. Take it and enjoy. And find something you do want to do, after a nice, long rest...even if it's watch TV, read, or sleep. Give yourself the gift of one year.

You know we're always here for you, RWA or no RWA. ;)

Melissa Robbins said...

For you, the new year should start April 16th, not January 1st.

Love you, Penny!