Janus, the Roman God, has two faces. One looking back, the other looking forward. I think it is natural this time of year for us all to the same. There is nothing like a fresh start to re-energize, re-focus your dreams, your ambitions, and the path that you would like to take. All the while, looking back, learning lessons from the past (hopefully), and carrying forward any wisdom that has been attained over the year. The diet and stop smoking ads have replaced the warm, gooey, feel-good Christmas ads on TV. In other words, you had your fun, now it’s time to buck up. And so it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut used to say…the cycle continues. Happy New Year.
I’m usually not prone to major shifts in my life at the beginning of the year. Resolutions have never worked for me. The joy of past January's have arrived comfortably in the presence of the ever increasing daylight, and knowing in the coldest nights of the year that somewhere a pair of great horned owls are performing their mating rituals. They will soon begin searching for a nesting site. New life and warmth are on the horizon—that’s usually enough change for me.
My fresh starts have come in the form of my freelance spreadsheets starting at zero—with confidence and ambition assured that they would quickly fill up to match or exceed the previous year. January has previously passed too quickly in a flurry of work. In a blink, the daffodils would be ready to bloom…in another blink the warblers would be migrating north, and in another it would be time for summer vacation—the memory of the cold nights in January stored away with the sweaters, and the next January not even on the radar screen.
But this year seems different for me. I have a nagging feeling to change some things in my life.
In many ways 2007 was a triumphant year for me.
As a freelancer I maintained my pace from the previous year, and I hit the milestone of 500 projects in my career. The deadlines were countless…and I didn’t miss a one. The fourth quarter was brutal. More brutal than I can ever remember. Maybe I’m just getting older…my pace slowing, but it took something out me that I have yet to replace.
As a fiction writer I had my best year ever. I was nominated for a Derringer, and I had short stories accepted by Ellery Queen, Boy’s Life, and Mysterical-E (all to be published in 08). I was also invited into an anthology that will be published by Kensignton Press in the spring of 08. And I began to spread my non-fiction writing wings. I wrote an author profile that appeared in December in Roundup magazine, and I contributed to the upcoming Encyclopedia of the Western Expansion to be published by M.E. Sharpe.
As a novelist, I wrote 2 new proposals, so including the 2 novels my agent is currently shopping, I now have 4 chances at selling a novel.
Like I said, a triumphant year—I can’t complain.
Which, of course, brings me to the present—to looking forward and hopefully to being a little less—busy. It would be nice to focus on one project instead of 50 or 60 over the period of a year. Have one deadline instead of countless ones. As happy as I am with 2007, it wore me out. For the first time in years, I took off 2 weeks over the holidays. I didn’t realize how burnt-out I was.
So I’m taking my cue from Janus—for once—and I’m making some changes at the beginning of the year. A fresh start. My goal?
Have more fun.
And face less deadlines.
Unfortunately that means I have decided to end my weekly run here at Acme Writers.
I may drop in from time to time to bring you up to date on my comings and goings or comment on Norm’s antics, Rob’s wonderful instruction, DL's beautiful slice of life stories, Todd and Terry's adventures, Margot's lessons, or Morgan's tireless energy.
It has been a great pleasure to share the stage with my fellow writers, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.
So, be well. Keep writing. Keep dreaming. Work less, have some fun, and I’ll see you around...
All my best,