So Long 2013, Hello 2014

New Year's Fireworks photo by Madeira Algarve

New Year’s Fireworks photo by Madeira Algarve

“Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn’t wait to get to work
in the morning: I wanted to know what I was going to say.”  – Sharon O’Brien

Well, 2013 is officially over and 2014 is already under way.

I have to admit, 2013 certainly turned out a lot differently than how I thought it would when it started last January.

I learned some things this past year that were rather surprising and disappointing, but I was also reminded of a few important truths: people who truly care about you are genuinely glad for your success (regardless of how great or how small); they might not get what it is you’re trying to do, but they support you and encourage you anyway.

I was also reminded that challenges reveal a lot about the world we live in and a lot about ourselves.

It was much harder than I expected it would be to get my feet back under me again, but thanks to my family and to my friends, I managed to right the ship, so to speak, and to once again head in the direction of my dreams (slightly different dreams, or a different version perhaps, than I may have had to start the year).

That is love. That is a gift. That is why I am such a lucky man.

I admit, I spent much (if not most) of the past year just trying to understand some things, trying to make sense of things that really just don’t make sense. And it took me longer than it should have, I suppose, to get that, but I finally realized that no matter how much you care and no matter how badly you want something, sometimes you just can’t control how things play out.

Looking back at the year, then, is not about regret. It’s not about the way things should have been or the way I wish they had been, it’s not about things that were and that aren’t any more (though I will always keep a special place for them in my memories).

It’s about the things that are and the things that might be down the road.

After all, so many people won’t have today. Or tomorrow. And I owe it to them, we all do, really, to make the most of the time we do have.

After facing a rather unexpected and abrupt detour from the path I was on, my family and my friends were there for me, even though I didn’t ask them to be, offering advice and comfort, but mostly they listened and encouraged and supported . . . they allowed me the freedom and the chance to find my way back to me.

And for that, I am beyond grateful!

Getting back to my writing helped me understand things, too. I was reminded of just how much I love writing and of how much it helps me learn about other people and also about myself. And, like O’Brien, the more I wrote, the more I discovered about myself, the more I couldn’t wait to see what I was going to write next.

The more I can’t wait!

There were several things I had hoped to accomplish in 2013 that I didn’t, but there were also a few significant things I did manage to achieve. For example, I’m very nearly done with my revisions for Xero (a brief excerpt from the middle of the novel appears below) and I hope to send the manuscript out by the end of this month.

I also managed to create a website for my writing after thinking about it for over 8 years.

I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions, per se, but I do believe in the value of setting Goals and Intentions and of writing them down, so I’ll do that here, putting myself on the spot, perhaps, making a list of some of MY GOALS & INTENTIONS FOR 2014:

Complete Revision of The Short Bus by 1/31/14
Submit The Short Bus by 1/31/14
Apply to (and get accepted to) an Artist Residency for 2015
Complete Final Draft of A Boy Called Mo by June 2014
Submit A Boy Called Mo in June 2014
Work On Golf Game (all summer)
Play Golf At Least Two Days a Week (with my best friend and also with my parents)
Host One or Two Retreats for Creatives With Terry Price
Volunteer at The Heidelberg Project
Complete First Draft for Troble
Hold Free Public Readings Every Month from May through November
Laugh, Dance, Sing, Hike, Be Outside
Take Lots of Photographs
Take a Drawing Class (Learn How To Draw People)
Write, Read, Travel, Run
Spend Time With Family & Friends
Work, Play, Breathe, Do Yoga
Be . . . Just Be

I want to thank my family and my friends for all you did for me in 2013. I’m not even sure where to begin except maybe by saying thank you for seeing me and for loving me for who I am.

A special thanks, also, to Monica and to Tahirih for your generosity and your time and your talent in helping me create such a beautiful website and for being such wonderful people.

And thanks to everyone who reads these posts. I’m not sure why you do, but I’m grateful that my thoughts and my words might mean something to you. My hope is that they help make your life better in some way. That’s one of the reasons I write, after all, the hope of adding something positive to the lives of others through my words and my voice.

Next week, I will finally finish up revealing a few specifics details about some of my youthful blunders, as well as a few incidents that impacted my entire family from the list below:

Broken Bones & Concussed Noggins
Shattered: Or Wrong Place, Wrong Time, Wrong Body
The Land of Up & So Much Falling
Climbing the School
Rooftops & Hurricanes

And two weeks from now, I’m excited to say, I’ll have a special guest post by my friend, award-winning short fiction writer and poet, Phil Deaver.

(A few other guest posts for 2014 will be from poet and YA author Ron Koertge, poet J. Scott Brownlee, as well as by R.A. Salvatore, K.L. Going, and others if things go as planned).

Until then, keep after it, y’all. May 2014 bring you everything you hope for and more. May it give you many chances to be “conscious of living.”

“I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is thinking.
It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

The Coolest House

. . . Although it might be the sort of ordinary, everyday thing you’d witness on a pre-summer evening in most small towns, seeing a thirteen-year-old boy like Webb Sanders with his knot of wild hair glinting amber beneath the streetlights as he rode down the middle of the street on his trusty second-hand bike, his very best friend propped on the handle bars like an over-sized hood ornament, it was anything but ordinary for Xero to be heading where he was heading.

And now, after Webb showed him a new route to the vacant lot and the remains of the burned down house and the two trees huddled near the tall wooden fence, Xero wondered, “How many ways can you get to the same place?”

“Dude,” replied Webb, both boys using their whisper voices now, as they climbed the tree closest to the fence, the tree Knee Boots had used to get to his garage. “That’s what you figure out real quick. Once you ain’t stuck in the same spot all the time.”

“What do you figure out?” Xero asked.

“That the world you know ain’t much of the world at all.”

As he moved out along the lowest branch, Xero thought about Webb’s point and about how, ever since he’d first climbed that sharp, black, fence, every part of his life seemed different from what he’d known.

“There,” he said, pointing through the dark.

Webb moved his head into different positions for a better view. “I don’t see anything.”

“The outside is dark brown wood,” said Xero, describing the two-story playhouse, “and the windows are round and they’re made of real glass and the front door has the #1 on it like that’s her address and a silver bull’s head with a silver ring in its nose and you bang the ring against more flat silver instead of using a doorbell and it locks with a key so Carly can sleep out there at night and no one can get in.”

“Too bad she didn’t lock the door when you were in there,” said Webb, stretching his neck, trying to see through the darkness.

Xero had thought that same thing a hundred times at least.

“There’s a loft inside up top and you have to climb a wide ladder to get to it and it’s big enough for two people to sit with their legs crossed and no one looking in the windows downstairs can see you up there.” Xero told Webb that he didn’t get a chance to test that out for himself because Carly’s dad showed up and ruined everything. “The loft has a small door that opens outside and there’s a deck which is the top of this cool slide that curves once around and there’s this small trampoline off to the side at the bottom. Inside there are chairs, but not cheesy chairs. I mean big soft bean bag chairs. And a love seat.”

“Oooh, a love seat,” said Webb drawing out love as far as he could. “Wonder where you were headed?”

Xero’s entire body prickled with a different kind of heat than his belly had earlier. He had hoped, after all, to spend some time with Carly on that seat.

“I bet everyone’s in bed right now,” Webb continued, bending his knees. “Let’s go check it out.” He landed on the ground below the tree with a dull thunk.

“We can’t–” Xero started to say, but can’t was one word that Webb Sanders never allowed himself to hear. Especially when he was off somewhere adventuring in the dark.

Pausing briefly at the end of the tall fence, Webb stuck his head around the corner, then disappeared into the darkness.

(a brief excerpt from The Short Bus)

New Year’s Fireworks photo by Madeira Algarve is used via the Create Commons License on Flickr