Talking to a writer friend, she told me that at year end, she writes about ten things that made an impression on her during the previous year. I think that’s a great idea and as I prepare to re-start my blog, which will focus on stories connected to the novel I’ve finished, I shall emulate my friend (with modification) and note my top five remembrances for 2021 and my top five goals for 2022.
- I’ve written a novel, one I’ve dreamed about writing for years. It’s taken me more than a year, but what’s enriched my novel is participating in a novel revision class with Elizabeth Stark, an amazing writer and a fabulous teacher. Out of that process, I received half a dozen excellent critiques of my novel that spurred me to improvements. I’m grateful. Now all I need is an agent, a process that’s daunting and time-consuming, but I’ve begun.
- I’ve been more politically active this year than ever before. Key issues for me have been redistricting, voter rights (both of which are connected), and the environment. I glued myself to my television screen to watch as much reportage on COP 26 as I could. John Kerry is optimistic (more than I am) and I’m grateful. Greta Thunberg says it’s a failure and she may be right, but I suspect the truth lies somewhere between Kerry and Thunberg. I know we’re in trouble and I’m doubling my efforts to try to do better and to help organizations that make a difference. We are our own last hope.
- As a writer, I’ve signed up with George Saunders’ story club on Substack. He started this recently. He is a master story writer and a master story analyzer and I know I can learn more about writing by reading and thinking about his analyses of stories. I’m a week behind (and it isn’t even New Year’s yet), but I will catch up on New Year’s Day. My plan is to re-read the sections on his analysis of Ernest Hemingway’s Cat in the Rain and finish reading all the sections about that story “in one go” so that I really follow the flow of Saunders’ thinking.
- My grandson’s visits are highlights of this year (as I suspect they will be for every year). He is four now, so he isn’t vaccinated and I live in fear that he’ll catch COVID before he turns five next February and gets his first shot. Fortunately, he has wise parents who will make sure he’s vaccinated as soon as possible and keep him masked and fairly isolated, but, until then, I live on tenterhooks, hoping he will be safe.
- I’ve read books and watched programs. I’ve become a huge fan of Richard Powers. I read his Pulitzer-prize winning novel, The Overstory, and was subsumed by it. Since then, he’s written and published Bewilderment, which I read and know I’ll have to re-read to grasp its import fully. On the program front, I’ve relied heavily on PBS. I watch the NewsHour every day with gratitude for their presentation of multiple sides of each story (anything to mitigate our current polarization). I also watch many other programs, but one that stands out for this year is an episode of In Their Own Words, on Angela Merkel. She resigned as Chancellor of Germany, but oh how I’d love a leader like her.
And moving on to 2022:
- I’m writing a novel (are you sensing a theme here?). My first draft will go to an alpha reader in mid-January. Once I have a discussion with her (probably in February or March), I’ll enter my revision stage. In my ideal world (when does that ever happen?), I’ll be ready for beta readers in August and finish it by the end of 2022 or early 2023. All this while I continue to seek an agent for my finished novel.
- Politically, I will work on mid-term elections. I anticipate involving myself in the “get out the vote” process, but I’ll see what’s needed closer to mid-year. I also plan to continue my financial contributions. I value democracy and want to work to ensure we continue to enjoy that state.
- I’m going to reactivate this blog — seriously. In writing my last novel, I remembered stories from my family and found small unique stories in my research that will make interesting posts. The stories didn’t fit into my novel, but they’ll be great ancillary tales. I look forward to writing them.
- I’m going to spend more time with family and friends. With the pandemic, it’s been hard, but there’s hope as we vaccinate and boost and come to terms with what I suspect will be a permanent fixture in our lives. My brother-in-law has planned a family reunion in June. I am considering driving, as I haven’t seen this country “on the ground” in a long time. It’s been too easy to fly over, but I would like to “see” the country again.
- I intend to get my garden in better shape in 2022. In case you’re wondering why I have a picture of Brugmansia Charles Grimaldi flowers at the start of this post, they’re mine. I planted my Brugmansia over a decade ago and it never flowered and never flowered and never flowered — until this year. It’s not the bush it’s supposed to be because I was afraid to prune it, so the leaves and half a dozen flowers sit on top of a stalk that’s about six feet high. I’m going to learn how and when to prune it and pray that it will give me its beautiful flowers and scent again next year. We’ll see.