New Year in a Word

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imageAs 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.

imageMARCH – 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.

imageAPRIL – Accept an offer to do an MFA in Creative Writing at Stony Brook  Manhattan campus. Emma and Anne take me to my first Yankees match and my first carousel ride (in Central Park).


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.

imageJUNE – 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.

imageJULY – 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.

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55 Responses to New Year in a Word

  1. Wow Joanna, what a lovely review. 🙂

  2. I am so honored to have made the list of the year’s highlights. I definitely look forward to 2014 and wish you all of the Serenity you deserve, my dear friend. xoxo My word is LOVE.

  3. Richa Jha says:

    Lovely round up, Joanna! Wish you every bit of the serenity that you aim for this year. My word is FOCUS.

  4. Kim Pfennigwerth says:

    What a wonderful year’s perspective! I think my word is: Persist –– through fear, doubt, interruptions, and dawdling. 🙂 Thanks Joanna, loved this post!

  5. Sylvia Liu says:

    Such an awesome and inspiring post. Last year my word was BREATHE. I managed to that but not as consciously as I would have liked. This year my word will be CREATE.

  6. Joanna says:

    Sylvia, I am so glad you mentioned last year’s word as well as this year’s!

  7. Wow! What wonderful year (minus the curve ball!)! I hope you find serenity in 2014 and accomplish all your goals! And I hope we’ll get to meet again – maybe on a less windy day 🙂 – maybe more than once! 🙂

  8. Debbie Woolway says:

    Loved reading your blog and we are so glad your 3 week stay extended to 3 months although frustrating at times for you waiting for the elusive visa paperwork! I think my word would have to be EXPECTANCY for 2014 – always looking forward to the good things which come our way each day. I guess it goes with thankfulness as often it’s lots of little things, when added together, go to making a great day!

  9. My word for 2014 is Enthusiasm…….. I have so many projects that I want and need to accomplish this year…polishing P.B’s to send out, working on other pieces, painting, preparing for Art Shows, quilting and all that that entails…and hopefully taking the little red horse to some dressage shows

    • Joanna says:

      I love the breadth of your projects, Anne. ENTHUSIASM seems the perfect word to carry you along all these creative pursuits. Thanks for commenting.

  10. Lori Degman says:

    WOW – what a year!! You definitely had a lot to be thankful for! I’m thankful we got to meet in person – even though I didn’t make the list like Marcie did 🙂

    My word for last year was FOLLOW-THROUGH, which I did in a lot of areas. My word for this year is CONFIDENCE.

  11. Karen Mae Zoccoli says:

    Joanna – Enjoyed reading your year in review and connecting on FB 12×12. Wow, what an awesome year you had! As I also posted on FB, my word is BLOSSOM. Happy New Year!

  12. I love your re-cap of such a busy year! I don’t have a word, but I did find a theme that resonated. From Jo Knowles’ blog post about seeing beauty and living with a full heart – that’s what it’s all about. You can read what she says here:

    All the best for a serene 2014 (yes, I love that it rhymes!)

  13. Wonderful post, Joanna. So nice to hear a recap of your year. Sounds very successful with decisions made to continue your growth and accomplishments. I’m never good at choosing a word, but you are making me think about it.
    Ok…I left for a bit to use my thesaurus for words that describe how I’ve been feeling lately…mainly about my writing. I’ve chosen Resoluteness. I want to move forward with strong resolve which I think will help alleviate doubts and give me confidence in my abilities! I’m going to make me a nice little Word Art reminder to post by my laptop with my other inspirational items! (Just a minute.)
    Ok…printed and posted!
    Thanks, Joanna!

    • Joanna says:

      Even your thorough follow through to this post shows me your determination, Penny! I am so looking forward to seeing your first books on the shelves of my local bookstores!

  14. Scott Hammon says:

    I am THANKFUL too, because I was paired with an awesome critique partner. Thanks again for being so generous with your time, and for wonderfully wording your comments and suggestions. Can’t wait to see how your first male-protagonist YA turns out. Have an amazing year!

  15. You’ve had such a fascinating year. I love the photos that capture your journey last year. What jumps out to me is — Friends. You have made so many wonderful and meaningful friendships. You do have much to be grateful for!

  16. May the angst become a thing of the past, and may you move forward with gratitude and serenity to greet whatever lies ahead. May 2014 be very good to you, my friend.

    My word last year was DYNAMIC, but, while I accomplished things, I didn’t feel the energy that should have attended them. I felt stuck for a good part of the year, waiting (not necessarily patiently) for things beyond my control.

    My word this year is actually a phrase, a theme, a determination-to-be-this-way, and so far, only one week into the year, it is living itself out in grand fashion. My word is MOVING FORWARD. And I am, and intend to be.

  17. Wonderful post, and I’m glad it’s ‘late’, I can take more in! In 2014 I want to LISTEN. Be quiet, inside and out. Then maybe I can work up to serenity for 2015! My wish for you this year, dear Joanna, is LUCK, not good, or bad, just luck.

    • Joanna says:

      Julie, listening is such an important quality for us all, but especially for creatives. It is very much one of the paths to serenity!

  18. I love the look back and the look ahead. I always have a word and put it on my computer to focus on throughout the year. Last year, I had a phrase that I never wanted to say out loud. That one carries over to 2014. 🙂 Best wishes this year.

  19. I loved reading your summary of your 2013! I don’t think I could do likewise (though I want to) since I barely remember past yesterday.

    I think your word choices are excellent and suited to your life journey. I didn’t have one last year and I don’t know that I can narrow it down to one this year either (I do have a list of 10). “Work harder” is not one word, is it? 😉

    Wishing you a happy, successful, and fulfilling 2014, Joanna!

    • Joanna says:

      Teresa, the photos were great memory joggers, and the fact I kept moving back and forth across the Atlantic, so could ask myself what I did in each location. To you continued success in 2014, too.

  20. Dana Carey says:

    Happy New Year, Joanne! You had quite a year in 2013– I wish you much serenity in 2014.
    My word of the year is AIM. It will serve as a reminder to focus. On one thing at a time.

  21. Joanna says:

    Go for the bullseye, Dana!

  22. Lucky you! Meeting so many wonderful people! Looks like you had a great year! 😀

  23. Great review, Joanna! I hope 2014 brings you much serenity.

  24. What a year you’ve had!!! Amazing!! My word for the year is FOCUS!

  25. You are so positive, Joanna. Love it! My word is AWARENESS.

    • Joanna says:

      Thank you much, Maryann? Your word ties in with the importance of listening, which is what I have been thinking a lot about recently.

  26. What a year! Glad I got the opportunity to be inspired by your hitchhiking Europe posts, as well as the chance to read some of your YA fiction. Hope you have a spectacular 2014, Joanna!

  27. Rhythm says:

    You seem to be one of the most serene people I have encountered. Serenity is a beautiful word for you. My word for the year is SERENDIPITY. I wish you a serendipitous journey to serenity. Happy New Year!

  28. Joanna says:

    Rhythm, that’s so sweet. You have chosen one of my favorite words ever!

  29. Betsy Pritts Ickes says:

    Glad you took time to reflect and share your past year. Looks like you had a very busy one. Met you briefly at one of the intensives at the SCBWI conference in LA. My word for this year is REVISE…

  30. Joanna says:

    Betsy, I remember. How lovely of you to comment here. Sending you those radical revision vibes for the year,

  31. Pingback: 2016, Bring it on! | Miss Marple's Musings

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