"Dates that come around every year help us measure progress in our lives. One annual event, New Year's Day, is a time of reflection and resolution."
(Joseph B. Wirthlin)
(Joseph B. Wirthlin)
Here we are at the time of year when resolutions figure in many people's conversations. What are your New Year's Resolutions? That's a question you have probably heard this week and perhaps have even asked. Losing weight is generally a favorite of many of us and one I need to make after too much Christmas goodies!! What are some others that you hear? Perhaps to read through the Bible? More time with family? Exercise every day? Be kinder to those you meet? There are so many ways we can resolve to be better.
For many years I would write in my personal journal around the first of the year. Most of the resolutions I recorded in my journal were writing related. Perhaps to sell a new book. Or to not give up hope in spite of rejections. To come up with a new idea. To finish whatever book I was writing.
Tonight while considering what to write here on my blog, I decided to dip back into one of those journals in the hopes of finding something I could just lift out of a New Year's entry to share here. I went back to 1981 and leafed through the journal. While I didn't really find anything I thought would interest anyone but me, it was eye-opening for me to look at myself as a writer thirty plus years ago.
In 1981, I'd published two books, paperback historical romances in the general market. I was hoping for the third and fourth historical books I'd written that had yet to find a home. As it turned out it took twenty plus more years for those particular stories to find a publisher and make their way out to readers. Meanwhile, as I flipped through the years, I walked through some rejection valleys until finally in 1985 I sold a young adult novel.
That began several years of writing for the young adult market and the oft expressed worry of whether the stories I came up with were going to be ones the editors I was working with liked. I had one editor who filled my ears with great words of praise but then would send back my books with lots of red edits and suggestions for rewrites. One day with her, I'd feel on top of the world when she said something like she could "pick out one of my sentences anywhere" since I had such a unique style and then I'd get a letter saying I needed to "trim the lard" out of my story. Up and down, but all the time I was learning. Not only how to write, but how to deal with those ups and downs of the writing life. I was so young as a writer then. I had two kids in college, but I was still so young.
Oh, to look back through the years and remember. And now I feel so blessed to have books published. To have my stories out there for readers. To have the promise of being able to share more stories with readers in the year ahead.
One of the most interesting things about glancing through several years of my 1980's writing life was that I mentioned stories and characters that I don't remember at all now. Obviously the books didn't sell or I gave up on writing them. One I mentioned trying to write through several years. The character's name was Candra Lynn. I often refer to my books in my journal by this or that character's story rather than a book title. But now I don't remember Candra Lynn at all or her story. Too many characters through the years have pushed her deep into my memory where I can no longer retrieve it without some reminder. The story is probably here somewhere on my rejection shelves. Someday when I don't have a newer, fresher idea to take all my attention, perhaps I'll seek Candra Lynn out and see what story she tried to get me to tell.
Here's a snippet of a journal entry from January 1987.
"You wouldn't believe the things I'm doing to keep from beginning work - including writing this. I've even been cleaning my desk drawers, looking through old letters, etc.
I'm timid to plug in my typewriter in and begin. I keep worrying the words won't come. I know they will but I also know how hard their coming sometimes is. But this book may be a gift."
That book did turn out to be a gift, one of my very favorite young adult novels, The Discovery at Coyote Point. But when I read through the journal entries while I was writing it, I often spoke of the struggle in the writing. I suppose that's what I need to remember as the sun rises on a new writing year - that the words may come hard, but the story may nevertheless turn out to be a gift.
Thank you all so much for reading. You are a definitely a gift to me each and every time you come by here to visit.
Tell me what you are resolving for the coming year.