As my blog followers know, I like to begin the year with an inspirational post on January 1st with a focus WORD, goals for the new year and a reflection on the past twelve months. I am a week late, which saddens my punctual Anglo-Saxon heart, but December threw me a curve ball that knocked me right out of the ball park (hope you’re impressed with the American metaphor)! Last year’s word was CENTERED and until December, I was doing pretty well, what with the visa wait, trans Atlantic move, and becoming a student again after twenty-five years. I took some risks, as I spoke of on Jan 1st 2013, achieved most of my goals and managed 11 months of centeredness. Rather than look at those goals though, I have decided the best antidote to the angst of the past weeks is THANKFULNESS, so I shall look at those things for which I am grateful for through each month of last year.
JANUARY – Time with dear, old friends in wintry London and I begin, with not a little trepidation, my first novel-length manuscript.
FEBRUARY – Back to Brooklyn, and I respond to an unusual request by illustrator, Diane Perruzzi and write my favorite PB manuscript of last year about a gender nonconforming kid.
MARCH – Discover I am lodging near author, Marcie Colleen, and spend many happy hours talking picture books at our local French bistro on Smith Street, Brooklyn. Finally meet my author friend, Susanna Leonard Hill while on a hike in her hood of Poughkeepsie.
MAY – Back to the UK and a three-week stay turns into a three-month stay in a beautiful Devon farmhouse with generous friends and the perfect pastoral peace for an author! Not to mention a visit to Agatha Christie’s summer residence, Greenway.
JUNE – Achieve my goal of completing the first draft of my first YA novel. Jubilant about the overthrow of the DOMA even if I am not there in person to celebrate. Squeeze in a sunny week in my old home, Nice.
JULY – The visa gods are gracious, if last-minute, and release my student visa to me two days before I need to book a flight and fly to Los Angeles for the awesome, summer international SCBWI conference.
AUGUST – So happy to be back in New York and staying with my super supportive and fun friends, Anne and Emma, while I search for accommodation. They answer my constant questions (and still do) about how to go about practical things in NYC. – my own orientation team!
SEPTEMBER – Classes begin, and I encounter motivated, mature and cool writing students and wonderful professors at Stony Brook Manhattan. Writing weekly assignments projects me into a great daily study/writing rhythm. Anne takes me and Emma sailing on the Hudson.
OCTOBER – Begin my second YA, a story completely outside my comfort zone, but with a male main character whom I love. New York City and New York State in the fall are enchanting. Attend loads of kidlit events.
NOVEMBER – My first New York Thanksgiving with all the pazaz and pies of my good friends’ hospitality and Macy’s Parade from Central Park.
DECEMBER – A last-minute invitation and a cosy, snowy, convivial Maine Christmas at my dear author-illustrator friend, Hazel’s. BBC+booze+bonfires+book talk…..
As I look over this list, what stands out is that I have some of the best friends in the world. I have also discovered that I need serenity to write well. Serenity begins with gratitude. It grows with grace and acceptance. And blossoms when we extend ourselves to others in need. So, my word for 2014 is SERENITY. My writing goals are three: Finish and begin to revise my second YA novel, write and revise at least four picture books, find that kindred agent! As always, I encourage you to tell me your guiding word for 2014 and I wish you all a year of serenity and thankfulness amid the challenges.