Saturday, January 04, 2020

New Year, New Decade

Now that the new year has begun, it seems as if the doldrums of the last six months have slipped off me like a loose, ragged sweater. Yesterday, walking up the old road and into the woods with the dog, I realized I was feeling like myself again.
What does that feel like? Optimistic. Energized. Ready to create. Ready to be brilliant! 
In an email exchange with a friend who wanted some editing advice, she said she was feeling good about this new year, that she'd received some boosts creatively and business-wise that excited her.
"But for what felt like an eternity, I had to drudge through a hazy-fog before the clarity came," she wrote. I totally got that. I feel like my hazy-fog has lifted, and even if I still don't know what my writing future looks like after the end of June, I am revitalized and looking forward to getting into winter writing mode next week.

Without my usual hope and expectation this time. For the first time in my life, I am working on a writing project without any attachment to an outcome (as in, getting it published). I am writing it for the sake of writing it; I'm writing it simply for my father. If it never gets published, so be it. In this case, at this point, it really is the journey that is more important than the destination. I've learned so much about my father, that makes it all worthwhile. But I've had the hope and expectation of publication pummeled out of me.

My mother, an avid reader, says most of the recently published books she reads mention climate change somehow, so how my novel about a girl who can communicate with animals and who hears the thoughts of the people around her, or a memoir about a father who was a funeral director can fit into the current publishing market is beyond me.
I no longer care. That's what it means to let go of expectations, not have no attachment to an outcome. That's a weird place for me to be in, yet at the same time, it's incredibly liberating. I have accepted that in six months, I may give up writing and find different work. And I'm fine with that; in fact, part of me thinks it would be very relaxing to have a regular job with a regular pay cheque. Acceptance is a powerful thing, my friends. It frees you to do what you want in the way you want to. My future is a void, a complete uncertainty, so I can't worry about it. I had to slog through a thick, hazy fog -- of hopelessness, of uncertainty, of depression -- to get to this place of letting go and not worrying about the future but that's how it happens.
Rock bottom has a basement, right?

But in the spirit of NEVER GIVING UP, in the spirit of putting it all on the table for the next six months, Dwayne and I rang in the new year with dinner, dancing and a champagne toast at midnight. It's like that quote I found shortly after I left Vancouver in 2002 -- if you want to stop a downward spiral, you only have to change one thing.
So we changed up how we acknowledged the new year. Instead of ignoring it, going to bed at 10 pm, treating it like any other day, we intentionally kissed the old (and rather shitty) year goodbye and welcomed the new year, and the new decade, with open arms.
Open to all the creativity and courage and possibility a new year and a new decade offers. We are ready for the good stuff, whatever that may be, and we wanted the universe to know we are ready.

I had this first part of this Wendell Berry quote handwritten and stuck to the wall next to my desk so it was lovely to find a longer version in this lovely graphic. This could be it -- my real work, the work of telling my father's story.
When none of the books I pitched in 2019 were picked up, my mother said, "Maybe a path is being cleared." For this writing project. There's no way to know if she's right, and if Mr. Berry is right, unless I see this final book project through to the end.

A new year is a chance to believe again in all the possibilities. Because you never know. Epiphanies happen in the weirdest places -- like the card, book and magazine aisle of the grocery store, and clarity can come when you least expect it. And maybe it helps to wear a funny hat.
May it be so for you as well.


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