Some Thoughts at the End of The Year

For over ten years now, I've written up a set of thoughts and goals at the end of the year. Not the traditional--and generally meaningless-- lose ten pounds kind of thing, although sometimes that one sneaks in there. It's really more of a taking stock, a reminding myself of what I've accomplished and where I still hope to go with this writing career of mine and with this life of mine in general. As writing at its core is always about what it means to be human on this planet, I suppose the two are intertwined. Okay, I know they are.

The first year I did this-- I think it was around 2005-- the list was short. I was neither published nor agented yet and the idea of both felt simultaneously daunting yet possible. I had finished writing a book. I was headed at least generally in that direction. So I set both as a goal. 

I had written resolutions before, if only as a first day of school in January kind of assignment from one or the other tired teacher not quite ready to begin the push again. But honestly, I'd never followed through. This time I did. I think it's because I had finally admitted to myself that this--writing--was the thing I was supposed to be doing, the thing I wanted most to be successful at, the thing I wanted to work at for the rest of my life or at least as long as I could. 

So I wrote it down and tucked it in a notebook I kept at my nightstand. I held myself accountable that year. I'm not fully sure why although I'm certain it had a lot to do with the teaching year I was having--one of those awful years where despite your best efforts, little is going as it should and either you change life up or wallow in the mire of it. 

By the end of 2006 when I took stock again on paper, I was newly agented. I had not sold a book yet, but we were hopeful. By the end of 2007, DREAMING ANASTASIA had been acquired by its publisher.

Of course not every year has gone smoothly, but you knew that, right? Some Decembers, including this one, I have done that end of the year read through and assessment and come up sorely lacking. Life has a way of twisting and turning on its own. 2016 has been a strange beast for many of us, even beyond the con men and political turmoil and the overwhelming sense that we have lost our way and our civility and our common sense. People have begun referring to the world as being 'post-truth' and that's scaring the hell out of me. My fears as a woman are even deeper.

On a personal level, I have not yet finished writing the book I promised myself I would finish in the first quarter of this year. I have lost confidence any number of times, struggled to keep the faith in what I was and could achieve, felt drowned out by the louder voices, invisible.

And yet: I had a new book come out this year. (Part Tuck Everlasting, part noir murder mystery, part romance, with a bit about conniving con men tucked in for good measure). The Cubs won the World Series. I found a part-time job that I adore. 

Here's the thing: Like all good story telling, there's never really a full ending, just a pause before the new beginning. (Because when you finish reading a book, don't you almost always wonder what happened after that? I know I do.) You close the book but the story keeps telling itself.

To the point. Endings. They are only just beginnings.


  1. I do the end-of-year assessment, too, Joy. Haven't written this year's down yet, just letting it float about in my head. Lots of endings this year...but you're right--now that the dust has settled, they all feel like beginnings...

  2. Endings are only just beginnings is such a profound thought! Love this.


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