Is the universe trying to tell me something?

Photo by bibliothekarin on flickr. Click picture to see more of his/her art.

Photo by bibliothekarin on flickr. Click picture to see more of his/her art.

So I’ve been sitting at my computer for over an hour this lovely Saturday morning, and are new words pouring forth? Or am I churning out pages of tightly edited prose?

Uh . . . In a word, no.

In more words: not even close, though I have played enough Tetris Battle on Facebook that I’m out of energy and can’t play anymore (which is a relief, because if I was waiting for willpower to get me off the stupid game, I’d be there ’til tonight). I keep getting stuck between Level 20 and 21–but I digress. Where was I? Oh, right . . . Out of energy.

So I opened my planner because rather than actually get started, I figured why end a perfectly good stretch of procrastination when I can continue it by industriously planning to to start . . .

And what’s the first thing I see? The inspirational quote for this weekend:

“Romance and procrastination do not go hand in hand.” ~ Chris Howden.

I have no idea what Chris meant by those words exactly, but seeing as my current WIP is a romance and I’ve been stalling most of week, writing only in fits and spurts, it felt like pretty pointed commentary. Disliking being pointed at, not feeling inspired, I decided to turn the planner’s page. Surely better, sager, less mean advice would be there to motivate me.

What meets me?

“I’m a huge fan of my iPad, but the question remains: is it an incredibly useful piece of technology or the ultimate portal for distraction?” Noel Hudson.

Okay, fine. I can take hints wielded as subtly as a baseball bat. I’m getting to work now.

(As soon as I refill my coffee!)

Good For What Ails Me

"Spring Always Arrives" - Photo by Ev Bishop

“Spring Always Arrives” – Photo by Ev Bishop

Sometimes I romanticize the writing life. (Well, pretty much every aspect of life actually, but I’ll just focus on the writing aspects for now.) And while normally I feel this is a lovely quality, it has a downside. It can make me feel, when writing sessions are more tedious than magical, that maybe it’s because of some inherent flaw in me. Maybe I’m an impostor. A fraud.

I want “perfect” writing days:

Sessions where every penned nuance and detail is rife with significance.

Times with the texture and quality of embossed leather or whiskey soaked velvet (though if I think about it, I’m not really sure how either of those would describe a day at all).

Sprees filled with rambling, writerly chats, obscure poems found wedged between the floor boards in a bedroom of a long vacant house (again, a detail that seems sort of impossible to randomly happen upon when my butt is planted in my office chair, but don’t over think things: this is a perfect day, people!), and wine drank from pewter goblets.

Weather that’s all sunrise, sunset, or storm. Lavender-grey sky. Charcoal-soot clouds. Pounding rain that bends the trees and echoes my heart.

Hours when time pauses and my prose falls effortlessly upon the page, as moving and powerful as a wind that shakes leaves, bends boughs, and changes the season.

I want to be the poet in the turret, the crazy longhaired maiden-crone in the attic (but one whose family doesn’t disown her!).

So, although I often find that the reality of being a writer is pretty great, by comparison to the stuff of my daydream writer life, it’s sometimes a little disappointing. Or a lot, depending on the day. I’m continually surprised that writing is actually work—sometimes really hard work. It’s something I have to schedule in. It rarely just happens. And often it’s painful, like I’m a surgeon charged with the task of removing my own organs without anaesthetic and spreading them around for the world to see. But worse than the pain is the fear.

The fear that I actually have nothing to say. That perhaps the story “The Emperor’s New Clothes” was written with me in mind (“Aren’t they beautiful?” “Isn’t what beautiful? There’s nothing there.”) Fear that I am mediocre at best. Fear that people will see me naked and laugh, or worse, avert their eyes, turn away—ashamed, unable to relate, embarrassed for me. And even more fear: that I will never be read or connected with at all. I will send parts of myself into the void and be met with . . . silence.

How silly I am to worry about such things hit me afresh yesterday.

I’d fled my computer for a break to work in the yard. The air had a quality that, I don’t know, just made me want to laugh. Sweet and fresh, yet here and there, tinged with the earthy scent of dead plants, no longer frozen, freed to rot. The fecund smell of approaching spring is so ancient and independent of human involvement that it always seems almost otherworldly to me—yet also somehow makes me feel like every dream is possible.

The sun was trying to warm the winter-cold earth, and a brisk breeze carried an invigorating lesson: New life erupts from death. Growth springs forth from decay and rot and . . . well, shit.

Creation can be painful—just listen to my chickens. Yet, day in and day out, they each lay an egg—and though they complain bitterly during the process, they squawk equally proudly about the results of their labour. And as inglorious and common as laying an egg every day may be to some, each speckled brown oval is its own miracle too.

Does the chicken question whether it can lay an egg, or if it can, will it be a good enough egg, or if its worthy of even attempting to lay an egg in the first place? I’m not a chicken whisperer, but I don’t think so. Hens definitely seem to have more of an “I’m a chicken, dammit. Of course I lay eggs. Get over yourself and get cracking” attitude. Can I do any less or be any less pleased with my output?

And the chickens lay regardless of the day, temperature, or individual mood—mild and balmy, or bitter and hideous. And likewise, my hedge puts out buds when it’s supposed to, despite the wind, the danger of frost. . . . It seems to like it when I fuss, but it does its thing whether I’m there or not.

I have perfect dreamy writing days occasionally, and they’re amazing. I mean who doesn’t love to feel their work is going well, that they’ve connected with something deep within themselves, and enjoyed the process? Who doesn’t revel in a bit of romance?

I wonder though—perhaps ironically—if my writing is better on the days it feels like organ-extraction? Or if maybe the revolutions between between angst and toil and ecstasy and pleasure are all necessary? Maybe writing is like the rest of life, a continual shift of seasons. Some more enjoyable than others, perhaps, but all crucial, all inevitable. And maybe it’s just something I shouldn’t think about too much—just enjoy and accept (with a little squawking occasionally!).

A New Year’s Pondering

"Mmmm" - Photo by Ramona Higginson

“Mmmm” – Photo by Ramona Higginson

I was playing on the Internet, avoiding my traditional January look-back/look-ahead (a time I set aside, usually with tea and a journal, to contemplate what I’ve accomplished the past year and make notes about what I’d like to get done in the new one), when I came across the following quote from Ellen Goodman: “We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives . . . not looking for flaws, but for potential.”

It struck me as being both very true and very good advice. My head is usually full of details about things I don’t like about myself and want to change, areas I see myself falling down in that I want to shore up, and aspects of my relationships that need work. And this year (today!) is no different.

If one were to read any or all of my journals (And boy, I pity the poor fool who ever does—how boring and myopic my ramblings are!), he or she would see I’ve been dealing with the same stuff—the same questions, the same passions, the same laments, etc.—my whole life.

I do grow and change (or at least I hope I do!), but no matter what season a tree is in, it is still a tree, and I—much to my frustration at times—am always me.

For almost as long as I can remember, many of my primary goals, plans, and answer seeking have somehow centered around one or more—or some combination of—the following:

Faith. Is there a God? I believe, 100%, unequivocally, yes. What does He want/expect from us? How should I live? That gets trickier and sets the stage for a lot of my quandaries and questions.

Relationships. Why can’t I be all that I want to be for my friends and family—and why can’t they always be what I want/need them to be?

Pain. Personal, but also in the world at large.

My weight. I hate that honesty demands I mention it here. I want to be done having weight/body issues. I have wanted that since I was eleven. I’ll keep you posted if it ever actually comes to pass.

Writing. My grand passion—and the best way of dealing with life I’ve ever found. I always have tons of writing-related hopes and goals.

The point I’m getting to? Well, I’m not exactly sure. Part of me wants to write a ream of resolutions in keeping with my list of obsessions. The other part of me wants to pretend I’ve outgrown my old patterns of constant searching and questions, of discontent and striving.

But that’s why I like the quote. It doesn’t say we should’ve arrived at a place in our lives where we don’t have questions or see what we want to improve—or that there is some magical phase of life where no improvement is needed. It just says we should also look at the good we’ve already accomplished (or, perhaps, that exists without any help from us) and build on it.

And with those thoughts—and a mug of steaming Earl Grey at my side—I’ve decided to look at the rooms of my life with different eyes this year, and to journal about what I notice. I’ll still give time to plans and things I’d like to change, but I’m also aiming to acknowledge what I’ve already started and record things that hopefully I’m doing right, answers I believe I’ve found, areas that have healed, and ways I may have helped others—and can help further. There’s a lot of potential in 2013!

“A New Year’s Pondering” by me, Ev Bishop, was originally published in the Terrace Standard, January 23, 2013 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.”

A Theme of Value

The following was originally posted on my website September 13, 2012 (before it was hacked), but as I was going through material I managed to save, these thoughts still resonated. If you’ve read them before, I hope you don’t mind my re-sharing.

"In the Distance" - Photo by Ev Bishop

“In the Distance” – Photo by Ev Bishop

On holidays this year, I met up with Angela Dorsey and Barb Cameron (wonderful friends who also happen to be excellent fellow BC writers) for a sushi feast, a bookstore binge, and lots and lots of writerly talk. (Such a needed refuelling and refreshing!)

At one point I asked them why they write. I guess I was looking for some grand eureka. I also asked if there were topics and/or subject matter they personally considered taboo or off limits.

The conversation zipped all over the place in a myriad of fascinating (to me, anyway) directions and off shoots. One comment, made by Angela, particularly struck me: everything she writes must explore something that (for her) is a theme of value.

Other than that, she has no rules regarding things she will or will not write about, or how a theme is explored in terms of language used, situations depicted, etc.

She went on to explain modestly, maybe even a little self-consciously, that by saying that she doesn’t mean every story she writes has some big deep theme (though I’d argue most her stories do). A focus can be as simple (or complex!) as looking for home or valuing friendship.

Work must explore a theme of value. The idea, to me, is profound. Is, perhaps, the Eureka I was looking for when I ventured into my forest of questions.

I have long pondered why some novels’ scenes on difficult subject matters, for example, rape—feel somehow wrong or almost sensationalist, while others on the same topics, perhaps even more graphic in their detail, etc., feel somehow right and important to the story and to your reading/relating to it—even while they’re deeply disturbing or unsettling or rage-invoking or whatever.

In my own work, I’ve worried about crossing the line between honestly exploring and rendering what it’s like to be human and being gratuitous.

My worry was foundless. Theme dictates content. If one’s exploring a theme of value—which resonated with me as something I do, too—events in story, regardless of how graphic, disturbing or sexy they may be, will not feel gratuitous. The work’s objective prevents it.

Thoughts? 🙂

Flip a coin?

I used to always advocate going with your gut when it comes to starting a new story.

“I can’t decide what project to start next. I don’t know which story I should focus on completing. . . .” someone would say.

“Oh, that’s easy,” I’d reply. “Just go with whatever story’s louder in your head.”



The problem is that sometimes your head is really darn loud—and there’s more than one thing yelling. Especially, maybe, in the spring when the sap is running and new growth is exploding brilliant and green in every crook and cranny of the natural world.

I feel like one of my newly acquired chicks. Frantic with delight and distraction—everything is new. Everything is exciting. I can’t decide where to peck next, so I flap back and forth, take running leaps, then stutter to a stop—flutter up to practice perching, then flop back to the ground (sometimes face plant) to snack some more. . . .

The problem is that sometimes you can become so accustomed to working on a deadline that you know you can sit down to work, completely uninspired, and within minutes the muse will honour your commitment to your work and suddenly the story that seemed non-existent will roar to life. “Whatever’s loudest in your head” only half applies, because you’re a pro now (or some reasonable facsimile thereof, heh heh) and you can make your head turn up the volume on whatever story you want or need it to.

The problem is that sometimes two stories are completely different from each other in every way, yet are both engaging, tempting . . .

And before you suggest working on the stories in tandem . . . I can edit any number of works at the same time, it seems. And I can work on the odd short story while I’m in the midst of a novel. I can’t (yet!) seem to get into the worlds of two of my own novels simultaneously.

The problem is—I’m indecisive in the extreme the past few months, and now I’m being a big whiner and just making excuses.

Today (my last project, a.k.a. excuse, e-mailed away) was decision day. I came up with a solution. I’d flip a coin. Seriously. I even considered tweeting “Heads or Tails?” on Twitter and going with the choice that came back first.

And then, just short of hitting “enter,” a better idea finally it came to me. One of the stories, already started, is significantly shorter than the other will be and it has a brief chapter-by-chapter outline (something I never do) that will help me refresh myself with the plot almost at a glance. It will write itself quickly and be the perfect “break” piece once I’ve finished the rough draft of the longer novel and am giving it a 4-6 week rest before putting it through edits.

Tomorrow when I perch to write I’ll silence the loudest voice in my head—the stalling, but-what-should-I-focus-on one—and say, “Relax. You’ve decided, remember?” I guess in the end, I still believe in going with my gut. It’s just my guts are messy sometimes. 😉

How about you all? Is it always simple for you to figure out your next project, or do you spend a bit of time lollygagging over the decision?

To Capture the Moon

The yellowed-ivory moon rose over the snow topped mountains in the near distance. Huge bellied and magnificent, she sat heavy in the periwinkle sky of the early spring evening, queen of all she surveyed. And I, a peasant beneath her, awed by her visage and her serene scrutiny, deserted my leaf-raking and flowerbed cleaning and ran for a camera—completely taken in: this was the night I’d capture the moon.

I fetched my camera, and . . .

Completely failed in my quest. I have seen gorgeous photographs of the moon. The people who take them are magicians. Or perhaps they too think, You call this image beautiful, breathtaking, magical? No, you should have seen the moon that night. I didn’t even come close.

I know in seeking that illusive picture of the moon, concepts (magic spells!) like aperture, ISO, and EV 1 or 2 units come into play, along with tools like telephoto lenses, tripods, and the like. I have heard that I can master them. And perhaps I will. Strive. Try.

My first pronouncement—“completely failed”—softened under her encouraging glow as the night darkened around her. I emerged instead with a lesson, applicable to my writing and so many other parts of my life. The attempt is the joy, is the success, is the purpose. The moon will never be captured fully, but she can be suggested, alluded to, conjured, imagined, dreamt. . . .

And as if to affirm that truth, I discovered that two of the twenty or so shots I took turned out . . . not bad. Though nowhere close to how beautiful the moon actually was on April 6, or how she overtook the horizon and my imagination, I hope they hint. . . .

So the aftermath of my night’s chase? Most often with words, but sometimes using picture, paint or other, I’ll keep seeking to express the beauty and mysteries that sometimes surprise us in the day or wait and appear only fleetingly at night. And most often I’ll miss the mark, not accomplish what I’m shooting for, but that’s okay. I accept the quest. I revel in it. I delight in it. And who knows? Sometimes I might come . . . close.

When words fail me

How’s that for a grabbing blog post title?

It’s a bit of misnomer, however, as words rarely fail me (more like I occasionally fail them!). I do, however, like to dabble in other forms of artistic expression and while I would never call myself an artist, more and more often these days, I find myself taking a black Sharpie (TM) to paper or playing with paint.

And seeing as I think this is going to be a regular part of my life, I decided to dedicate a page on my website to sharing some of my creations. There are only two pieces up right now (“Family Portrait” and “I am your mother!”), but I’ll add more as they come into being (and when I take digital images of existing ones).

How about you? Are you strictly a writer or do you create in other modes and mediums as well? If the latter, do you feel it adds to or detracts from your writing? How so? Inquiring minds want to know. 😉

In the nick of time, a hero appeared. . . .

Sometimes I have days (or weeks, or months!) when I feel a little less than enchanted with the whole business of writing. Not the writing itself—sometimes I’m neurotic, insecure, impatient (etcetera, etcetera!) about my process, but that’s different. The work of writing, when I remember to refocus on it, is good. Is the whole point, actually. But the business part? The querying, submitting, receiving rejections—and the acceptances and publications that don’t magically change everything? Well, that whole affair can get a bit tedious.

Anyway, yesterday was one of those days. And then, out of nowhere, a hero appeared. He was wrapped in Manila paper and bubble wrap (Okay, get your mind out of the gutters. This is not that kind of story!), but it was, as ever, what was inside that counted.

(Okay, enough with the sexy, mysterious stranger metaphor.)

My friend Jen Brubacher had sent me a present from the UK: A book I’ve been dying for that doesn’t get released here in Canada ‘til May, 2012 (How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran—I figure, since I turn 40 in a few months, it’s about time I figure out this skill of being female), and—wait for it, wait for it—a total surprise book.

An ancient book. A treasure. A tome first printed in 1926. The Truth About Publishing by Stanley Unwin.

It’s hard to explain how gorgeous this book is—from his rough-edged, slightly discoloured with age pages, to faded, well-worn linen cover, to gold-lettered spine—gorgeous. And serious. (None of this author name and title and loud picture spilled gaudily across front and back for this fella.)

(Am I still personifying this book? I meant to stop! I seem to be unable to help myself.)

His soft, authoritative voice enthralled me from the very first page and I found myself oddly comforted, so much so that I was compelled to remove the shrug of discouragement I’d been huddling under this week.

Despite the book’s age, a surprising amount of details surrounding the business of writing (querying, submitting, presenting your work) are still pertinent.

And let me share just one inspiring tidbit—as timely and true to writers now, me thinks, as it was to writers 86 years ago:

“The growing commercialism of literature—inevitable though it may be—does not tend to promote more harmonious relations between authors and publishers. It is based on the assumption that manuscripts and books are mere commodities; dead, not living things. Such an assumption ignores the peculiar and indeed parent relationship of the author to his work, the realization of which is the beginning of wisdom in a publisher.” ~ Stanley Unwin

I found the above quote—in this day of doom and gloom about the future of publishing and rumours of the death of literacy, and so on—very encouraging. The future of books—the desire and “need” for their commercial success—has always been a source of angst and conflict between booksellers and book writers.

Yet if we question why we even bother to write then, turning to a quote on the title page reminds us:

It is by books that mind speaks to mind, by books the world’s intelligence grows, books are the tree of knowledge, which has grown into and twined its branches with those of the tree of life, and of their common fruit men eat and become as gods knowing good and evil.                                                                                                                               – C. Kegan Paul.

Us writers write what our hearts compel us to (or, at least, we should). But if we’re honest, often we have hopes of at least some sort of financial reward—if only so we can work less at a day job and write more.

Publishers also publish for two reasons (I really believe): to bring books into being that they believe should be read, should exist, should add to the world experience in terms of entertainment, pleasure, thought, growth and knowledge, but also to make money.

We authors may dislike the latter, especially if it appears to outweigh the other motivation in current culture, but that’s okay and is as it should be: we need to write regardless of what comes of it. By necessity, so it can continue, publishing has to be about dollars. Equally by necessity, writers need to be uncomfortable with that as a primary goal.

And so, another inner-writer crisis averted, the hero gently takes his place in her heart and on her shelf, snug amidst his brothers and sisters—all those reasons she keeps keeping at it.

Not the writer I wish to be

I was reading Louise Penny’s latest novel, A Trick of Light, the other night and as is the case with all of her Three Pines mysteries, I was completely moved and challenged by it, even while I was wildly entertained.

One of the continuing characters, 50-year-old artist Clara Morrow, after thirty-plus years of endeavour and dedication to growing in her art, has just become an “overnight success” and been given a solo show in the prestigious Musée d’Art Contemporain in Montréal.

Her description of the morning after the vernissage (or, in English, the “opening” of her show) captured me.

“Clara rose early. Putting on rubber boots and a sweater over her pajamas, she poured herself a coffee and sat in one of the Adirondack chairs in their back garden …

“She closed her eyes and could feel the young June sun on her upturned face and could hear birdcalls and the Rivière Bella Bella gurgling past at the end of the garden. Below that was the thrum of bumblebees climbing in and over and around the peonies. Getting lost.

“Bumbling around.

“It looked comical, ridiculous. But then so much did, unless you knew…

“Clara held the warm mug in her hands and smelt coffee, and the fresh-mown grass. The lilacs and peonies and young, fragrant roses.” (Louise Penny, A Trick of Light, Saint Martins Press, New York, N.Y. 2011)

Clara is thrilled and torn by her success (and will experience a myriad of other emotions as she faces jealousy from her renowned artist husband and the fall out from a murder that occurred in her garden during her celebratory party), but even before she sat in the early sun and pondered where she’d come from as an artist and where she was going, another of her inner observations kept coming back to me: “Art was their [her and her husband’s] work. But it was more than that. It had to be. Otherwise, why put up with all those years of solitude? Of failure? Of silence from a baffled and even bemused art world?”

Something in these passages that I can’t quite identify upon rereading and quoting in isolated chunks, in combination with comments a dear friend (and very astute, wise reader) made about one of my current works-in-progress triggered the recognition of a hard truth deep within me: I am not the writer I wish to be.

Now, this is not to say that I’ve ever felt that I was all that I wanted or hoped to be as a writer—not even close. But maybe what happened is that as the realization formed in my head and I saw all the colours and shadows and shapes and sounds of what I yearn to express collide with what I actually manage to get out—and that mess of thoughts bumped into Clara who I couldn’t separate from her author, Louise Penny, I realized that it will always be thus. It never changes. The great secret about aspiring to any Art is that you ever grow—and you ever fall short. There’s no arrival.

And maybe that sounds negative, but it didn’t feel like that to me. Instead it felt like some huge vice that had been holding my heart and mind—one that I was unaware of until I felt the pressure ease—unclenched. I think I’ve been operating under an unexpressed tyranny: “One day, I’ll get there—wherever there is—and all my writing dreams and aspirations will be met. Fireworks will go off. I’ll cease to be filled with self-doubt and lethargy. I will know I am good enough.”

Bunk! I have a lot of so-called successes (albeit they may seem small in some peoples’ eyes) and while I’m delighted and derive huge comfort and satisfaction whenever a reader identifies with, enjoys or connects to something I’ve written, I’ve never yet felt, “Aha, this is it.” Instead, I worry—when will the imposter police break out of wall yelling, “I’m sorry, Ma’am, you’re not a writer at all. You’ve been read and found lacking”?

But it’s not about that. It’s about, as Clara expressed, something more. It has to be.

It’s about striving, yes, but also being content to just be.

To diligently, joyfully—and sometimes sorrowfully or with anger—try to render every moment truthfully. To face (in real life and through my fiction) what I care about. What I question. What makes me rage, cower, cry and scream. What causes me to weep, laugh, smile, or take a deep contented breath and think, ahhhh . . .

It sounds so simple: Just be honest about what’s inside you, Ev!

But I find it so terrifying to face my naked emotional self—to not look away, to not avert my stare—out of discomfort, denial, fear of being revealed (and possibly rejected) for what I am, who I am. . . .

Yet as I pondered what I’d read, what my friend said, a warm coffee cup clutched in both hands, gently steaming as I sipped, and contemplated not just the pages immediately before but all those I written previously, I finally got it—get it. I am not the writer I wish to be. I am only the writer that I am. And it’s okay. More than okay. Perfect, in fact! (And after all, it’s the only possible option on any given day or page or part of a tale.)

I’ll continue to fight to remedy my failings, work hard to grow and change and be better as a writer (and a person), but there’s no magic day to wait for. The reason I write, the value of writing, the reward of writing is here right now. Found in the unyielding sheen of frozen-diamond snow, in the heavy contented sigh of my dog sleeping on my feet, in the questions I have as I stare at the sky, in breakfast with my adult daughter and the sweet complex flavours of conversation and freshly made pumpkin pancakes with syrup, pecans and whipping cream. . . .

The seemingly simple and obvious realization has me feeling a little awed—and strangely free and unencumbered: I am the writer that I am.

To bed, to bed Miss Sleepyhead

Well, I just told a lie. Inadvertently. And now I’m fessing up. (If one fesses up almost immediately, does it still count as a lie?) I told a writing forum of friends of mine that although I should do something writerish before I head out to my day job, I was going back to bed instead (and you know what, despite this post saying that I didn’t actually do that, the verdict’s still not an entirely sure thing. I’m tempted even as I type this to hit “save draft” then hit the sack for another hour.

I’m so tired! And worse, SO LAZY feeling. The lovely stupor induced by Christmas holidays seems to have settled as a permanent fog into each crook and cranny of my brain. Though I’ve eaten no turkey this season, I’m as soporific as if I’d just indulged in a six course meal of the stuff. Though January 1st usually finds me so eager to get back to my pages, so zealous over new goals for a new year, that I’m hyper to the point of literally bouncing around, this year . . . Nada. It’s January 3rd already and I . . . well, like I said. I just want to go back to bed.

Unfortunately, some part of me that isn’t as lazy as the rest of me (my spleen, perhaps? Yes, my spleen) piped up just before I crashed again and said, “You’ll just be tired again tomorrow.”

Sigh. And as ever, Spleen was right. I don’t need more sleep. I’ve been averaging 8 – 10 hours a night (before you judge though, it’s really dark and cold where I live right now; everyone, not just me, needs more sleep). And with that cold hard fact faced, I had to look at what I really need. What’s different between this lackluster new year and my happy, excitement-filled heralding of fresh annums in the past?

I think it’s a lack of one tiny, yet apparently crucial thing. For a long time (since I was 11 or so), part of my New Year tradition has always been to curl up with a journal and a yummy drink in the wee hours when everyone else is finally asleep after celebrating, to do some private recalling, planning, and dreaming.

I’ve done a lot of other fun stuff the past two weeks. And some important stuff. But I’ve neglected . . . . my spleen, apparently.

That truth unveiled and confronted, I still want to go back to bed. But not quite as badly. And tonight or tomorrow night, I’m going to curl up by the Christmas tree, journal in hand, wine glass nearby, and do some thinking. I know I have plans and hopes (thus latent excitement) for 2012. I just have to clear the way for it to crawl (okay, pour!) forth.

How about you? How’s 2012 so far? Are you already happily enmeshed in your writing and stories, or are you more like me, fighting not to go back to bed? 😉