Last Christmas my city was buried by a snow storm that canceled the holiday. A few weeks later, J.D. Salinger died. Just before Valentine’s Day, the final book of the Hunger Games series, Mockingjay, was revealed and a thousand hearts exploded in anticipation. In March I traveled to Indiana to go hiking through the woods in order to discover the landscape of my novel and met John Green at a book signing in Indianapolis. In April bullying was the watch-word and authors, would-be-authors, and celebrities came out to tell their stories about bullying and to encourage kids not to let it define them or destroy them. I did too.
In May I switched from Blogger to WordPress and lost half of my graphics that I’m still trying to reconstruct in my archive. In June I experienced my first major burn out and my plot got lost on its way to chapter fourteen. I abandoned writing for several weeks just to feel normal again.
In July I hit up OSFest 2010 and wrote several extensive posts about character tropes which are what originally started luring new friends to my blog. I realized then I had something to share with the world.
I dedicated August to Hot Dystopian Summer Nights and wrote about some of my favorite books and genres. September was all about banned books and October I wrote every day about haunted things but embarrassed myself by calling it an October Blogfest but really meant a festival of blog posts. Whoops.
November was National Novel Writing Month and I started a new steampunk fantasy though I never hit 50,000 words. I wrote blog posts every day and cross-posted them over at Nathan Bransford’s forums where they were well received.
December I paraded out my Top 5 lists, caught the plague and wished for a swift death. I tried not to get buried beneath the shopping frenzy or be run over by psycho shoppers.*** I succeeded at one of these two things. Santa brought me The Mockingbirds and Anna and the French Kiss so 2011 will begin with some fine YA lit.
There were plenty of book contests out there. I gave away copies of Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor, and lots of others. I won Morgan Matson’s Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell, Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, and Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers. I discovered Melina Marchetta and fell in love with words all over again. I met the wonderful Victoria Caswell and I never miss a post by Em and Nora at Love YA Lit, also The Story Siren, or Steph Su Reads.
I discovered that authors are like anyone else (Carrie Ryan, Courtney Summers, Saundra Mitchell, Kiersten White, Melissa Walker), but are also amazing, involved, grateful, lovely and so full of kindness I can hardly put into words but try to model myself after every day.
I read 73 novels, 80 if you include how many times I reread Jellicoe Road and The Sky is Everywhere. I think this says something about my dedication to reading, but I also think it says something about the quality of books that are being published these days, particularly in YA.
I discovered Nathan Bransford’s forums and the crazy personalities that populate its streets and I can honestly say I will never be the same person I was before I met them. They forced me, at linguistical gun point, to become a better thinker. My writing became deeper, more complicated, my characters more diverse and complex, and during those moments where I thought I was done, couldn’t go on, wasn’t even sure I still wanted to, there they were with a hanky and hot chocolate, kind words, naughty jokes, and giant emoticon eyerolls that said “Oh hell girl, we’ve all be there. And we’re all still here. You’ll be fine.” They might not mean anything to you, but the names Margo, Mira, Quill, Polymath, Watcher55, J.T. Shea, bcomet, and sierramcconnell and so many others will always stand out in my mind as people who helped me Take The Next Step, question myself, and speak up without fear of reprisal or derision. I. Am. In. Awe.
Now we come to the final days. These final hours. One more day is gone and I wonder how many people realize there is no going back. No reset button, no do-over. I wonder if the people who say, “I do not have time to write a novel today,” understand that tomorrow is just as temporary? I’m not very old, 31 is the new 21 and all that, but I can’t help but think – did I make the last year worth every last second? Did I waste any of it and if I did, why? It isn’t like we can get it back when it is gone. And I think – am I going to waste any moment of 2011? Will my novel go another year without being finished and why would I allow that to happen? We cannot get back the time we’ve spent and I believe that if we do not spend it well we do not really deserve it.
Did you spend it well? Will you spend it better?
No resolutions.+ This isn’t a competition when you are only competing against your own ability to make excuses. If I do not finish that novel this year, then why am I writing it? Go big or go home right?
2011 will be the year I get out of my own way.
*** True story – a friend of mine got cussed out in a parking lot when he got to a parking spot before another shopper. She then stalked him and tried to run him over after he came out. People never cease to amaze me.
+ I lied, there is one resolution. For two years I have made a resolution to learn how to sew a button and for two years I’ve put it off and avoided the Closet of Coats with Lost Buttons. No more! This year I will learn to fix my own bloody buttons or I’m switching out all my clothes to Velcro.