Looking Back & Moving Forward: My Word for 2020
I’ve been reading and enjoying people’s posts about their last decade. I kept thinking, though, I don’t even remember what I was doing two years ago, let alone ten. But then I put some actual numbers to the years and said–oh, okay! So I’m adding my list to the mix.
- Published The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide with Writer’s Digest and published two nonfiction children’s books with Capstone Press. (These feel SO much longer ago than ten years, but I guess not!)
- Completed & submitted a MG mystery & got some very nice rejections, but no takers.
- Struggled to write & rewrite & rewrite a YA historical and a MG fantasy. The manuscripts are still a mess, but the ideas at least are still in a mental drawer. The research I did for the first book has stayed with me, inspiring me with leaders like Jane Addams and Ida B. Wells and all the women who worked with them and who gathered to march & fight for our vote.
- Went back to day-job work full-time, beginning a new “career” path in grant writing for nonprofits. I did several years raising funds for STEM Education, always close to my heart, and then landed a job writing grants for our local Planned Parenthood affiliate. My actual career–where I place all my biggest dreams–has always been my creative writing, but after decades of trying out other jobs, I have finally found the place I am truly happy to show up for 40 hours/week.
- Focused my writing on picture books and fell in love. I have thoughts about why writing for this age feels better to me than novels ever did, but the bottom line is that I am happier with this work. I enjoy the time I spend with my stories much more, I’m better at this genre, and I have made more craft progress in the past two years than I did for all the other years in this decade.
- Spent time with family and friends, some of it easy and wonderful, some of it hard but important. I learned some (more) things about how I interact with people, and I see more clearly the gratitude I have for those I love.
It has been a good decade and, I think, an incredibly lucky one. In the past few years, of course, I’ve come to understand just how lucky I am and always have been, and I have started to do better in using that luck as a foundation for supporting others. I read Rebecca Traister’s book Good and Mad and found validation in it for the anger I have often felt; I also found a push to use that anger more effectively.
A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with someone I run into every few years, and she asked me–other than the writing she knew about—what else had I been up to? And my mind went blank. What had I been doing? For a solid minute or two, all I could see was the internal and external battle I’d been having with the state of the country/world–the surfing of news on social media, the going to marches and feeling guilty for not going to marches, the frantic donations of money that never seemed like enough, the calls and letters to government officials that only made a tiny, temporary dent in my feelings of helplessness.
And then I remembered the chores and date-nights and traveling I did with my husband; the times I’ve spent with my son–playing board games, sharing passages from books, laughing at his jokes, and just talking. I remembered the barre classes I’ve been taking, the plays I’ve seen, the music I’ve listened to. I remembered all the times I have been happy and in love with what I was doing and looking forward to what was coming next. But first…first, I remembered the yuck.
I don’t usually make New Years resolutions. But this year, I’m all in. I am not going to let the yuck win. I’m limiting my time on social media–no going on Facebook or Twitter before breakfast or after dinner. I’m going to have some easy opportunities to help with voter registration, and I’ll be doing that. I’ll talk to people about voting and about bringing unity at least to getting a Democrat into the White House. I’ll continue making financial donations, but I will set up most for automatic monthly giving. I’m committing to those three things.
And the rest of the time, I’m committing to happiness. I am going to find a way to continue working for change without losing the year to the emotional sludge. When January of 2021 comes around, I want to be able to look back and see the adventure, the laughter, the joy.
My word for 2020 is Happy.