A friend of mine posted this challenge on Facebook on New Years Eve: describe 2015 in three to five words. Five words? A whole year to summarize. I write 65,000 word novels and struggle to keep my weekly blog posts at around 300 words (this one is way over, folks). Despite the difficulty, I loved her idea of summarizing all those year-end thoughts in this really concise way. I chose these five words:
Spectacular. There was a lot of big goodness in my life this year. Traveling to Paris and Belgium. Winning an award for one of my novels. Garnering a non-scathing Publishers Weekly review for the other one. Speaking at a national conference. Joining the Board of Directors for my local writers organization. Running more than ever (up to 9 miles at once, and my best time ever on a 10K). Feeling physically strong and healthy (on account of all that running). Publishing an article on a USA Today blog. Experiencing a lot of growth in my higher education career, notably a substantial promotion right at the end of 2015.
Messy. While it would be lovely to paint a picture of all that big goodness happening in a cloud of glitter, it didn’t. I spent a lot of 2015 wrapping my head around how to make my writing career and my higher ed career play nicely together. In the beginning it looked like frantic attempts to make my art pay the bills – which resulted in creative paralysis because I couldn’t think of that just right thing to fit in with the market and sell, sell, sell! I stopped enjoying writing. Which made me profoundly sad. In the end, the decision I made, the one that I feel so peaceful about, that is helping me slowly (one hour at a time) fall in love with writing again– was to pursue BOTH careers full-steam ahead and not place the pressure on my art to earn a certain amount of money. This surprised even me, so I’m pretty sure looks pretty confusing to anyone not inside my head.
Lessons in Both. In this swirling mess of a spectacular year I realized that sometimes I talk too much and sometimes way too little. I need to listen more carefully and quietly, not just to others, but to myself. It was a year of learning that sometimes you have to start before you’re ready and when enough people you trust are telling you to leap– it’s probably a good idea, even if your legs are really shaky. And finally, in oh so many ways, 2015 was a year of learning that sometimes moving forward looks like backing away.
What are your five words? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.
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