Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Of Writing Goals, Hope, the Old Year, a New Year, and One Word

My end-of-the-year, start-of-a-new-year newsletter went out about 10 days ago. If you're not on the distribution list, here's the main story, one I hope will speak to writers setting out with new goals for 2015. The full newsletter is here (along with a link to sign up for future ones).

Last year, my word was HOPE. Each year I choose a word, or short phrase, as a beacon of sorts. It helps me remember my way when the writing life (and life, period) acts up.  
I wanted to remain full (or at least mindful) of hope, as I sought to publish a memoir-in-essays. As I let go of freelance editing and writing jobs that I enjoyed and which provided part-time income, but were preventing me from developing longer range projects and nailing down teaching jobs. As I worried, as always, about income and health insurance and when and why and how to publish and in what venues.
So I hoped.
Some things worked out (teaching jobs, journal publications, editing projects); others didn't (a book publishing offer, mainly). Life acted up, as usual.
The manuscript was a finalist in a few contests. Some publishers expressed interest. Some are still considering it. Some sent (what seemed to be) sincere notes:  the best of the worst of the rejections, was from my #2 wish-list publisher, and read in part, "...This is so very lovely, and comes so close, really within a whisper, of what we like to publish. But, alas...".
Another publisher invited me to resubmit after/if I revise the individual essays into a linear narrative -- advice I've heard before (even from myself), thought seriously about, and up to now, have rejected.
A mentor of mine who did that told me, "It was like breaking the back of each of those essays." But she did it, and something else, different but lovely, emerged.
Could I break the backs of those essays I loved and labored over? The ones editors at various literary journals over the last eight years read, accepted, edited, and published? Those I carefully shaped, revised, polished?  The ones I thoughtfully envisioned as singular, segmented, stand-alone?
It's time to think. Maybe my word for 2015 will carry me through. 

I keep my current year's word private, in a perhaps juvenile attempt to protect its potency. It's a word that seems to suggest two contradictory ideas (contronyms, they're called, words like cleave, bolt, strike). 

t's a new year. Do you have a word? 
Don't tell me. Tell yourself, over and over. Whisper it, or shout it. Write it down, in your heart, on the inside of your forehead, on your desk, in the air you breathe.
Alas, it may be what carries you through your writing year. I hope so. 
Images: Flickr Creative Commons: Hope Sign (Pol Sifter); Words (Joe Fife)..

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