Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Happy Lunar New Year everybody!

Do you celebrate or observe this time of year?

I love fresh starts and seasonal rites. I think of Harvest rather than Halloween, Solstice rather than Christmas presents. I light small candles on Diwali. Today is the first day of Spring in the Gaelic (Irish) calendar, and next month I will welcome it again here in Oregon. I haven’t always seen the world this way but now I’m seeing so many ways to celebrate or quietly observe the days.

Yesterday, I spent a little while in the Lan Su Chinese Gardens. I’m lucky to live just a couple of blocks away and, as we don’t have a garden or even a balcony in our apartment, I buy a yearly membership so that I have a leafy place to go. One day I will have a garden and a wishing tree.

The Wishing Tree

January was  stellar. Busy, intense, frustrating, thrilling. Effing exhausting. Full of doubts and questions and insecurities. All that and my third headcold of the winter. It was great!

Because I made like Woody Guthrie and stuck to my resolutions: worked more and harder, while somehow managing to keep the hopin’ machine running.

I finished writing a story that I started…good lord…six or seven years ago, then returned to in the middle of last year when I brought it to my writing-group saying I think there’s something here. I want to write this story, really write it. 

I pushed myself a lot these past few weeks especially. I have written a story that feels good and truthful to me. It feels complete and not just in the sense that it has a recognizable beginning, middle, and end. It’s out in the submissions ether now. There’s a particular place that I have sent it and I am aiming high. Who knows what will come, but I think it’s okay to take a punt on yourself, dream big etcetera.

I saw this month what happens when you really sit down and commit and work. I have finally ‘got’ it.

I have spent so much time reading author interviews and books on process. So and so wrote standing up, this guy writes in the bathtub. This author has children and this one doesn’t. This guy works in the evening and this gal gets up at 4am to write before her day job. These people don’t have day jobs! I was looking for quick tricks, resisting so much the knowledge that above and before anything else, you need to write. Whether your ass is in an actual chair or not is irrelevant. But you have to write. You have to spend time writing.

Why I never truly got this before is beyond me. I don’t think that either laziness or procrastination or fear is the entire answer. All I know is that something has clicked into place and I just know it for myself.

I have seen my work get better and that has made me more than willing to spend more time with it and forgo the other things that always seemed more important and immediate. It’s hard to spend time with something really crappy. But if you don’t, it stays that way. You have to work.

Again, this is common knowledge, I’m not saying anything new, and I have known this for years but could never quite push through. How things finally connect with me is a mystery. I wish I got things sooner but I am slow to learn my lessons. Though, once I do, I really do, and it is for keeps. I can say that about myself, at least.

This one small story is finished but I am riding on the momentum that I’ve created and am galvanized and ready for the next thing, whatever it may be. I want to try harder at working by a schedule, maybe save myself some last-minute intensity and exhaustion. I also need to make time to be outside more. In the gardens yesterday, I realized just how cooped up in my room and brain I’ve been. Working harder is good but not if we can’t remember what the sky looks like! Things are still a work in process but I’m ready and excited for it. I know what I need to do.

I hope that you (whoever you are) are just where you’re supposed to and ready to be in whatever your particular experience is. And for those who maybe know that they’re ready or want to be ready but don’t feel like they’re able, I encourage you to feel that – but do what you know you need to do anyway. I don’t only mean with writing. I mean whatever your thing is that’s your thing. It’s so hard. But it can be so worth it.

Happy New Year! Happy Spring! Here’s to infinite opportunities to look at things afresh.

Berries in the Garden