For the past few days, my world has been blanketed in white. Burdened tree branches bend to the carpeted ground and we pray our skylights won’t cave in. Traffic is iffy at best, stalled at worst.
The weathermen thought this history-making storm might drop an inch or two in Albuquerque. Instead, it has deposited more than a foot in my neighborhood. Our friends, who live a few miles closer to the mountains, report 21 inches.
As a convenient metaphor for 2006, the unprecendented weather might work. Or, not.
What is true is that much of last year went in different directions than anticipated.
For example, I planned to write two novels.
And, I did.
The only problem was that I had to write one novel twice.
2006 was like that: loads of activity and not much to show for it. I’d push hard toward a goal and end up somewhere else.
It felt as if Sisyphus and I had traded places. So many ambitions unattained. I didn’t write the first manuscript in my new series. I didn’t finish the short stories. I didn’t attract the attention of a major publisher. I didn’t get a mondo advance for my new book. So many hours "wasted." Wah.
I could fuss just like the people here in Albuquerque who are angered by the stopping power of snow.
But why do that?
Overall, the column of 2006 accomplishments balances the missed opportunities and inefficiencies. I DID finish and sell a manuscript. I DID start a relevant monthly column for Mystery Writers of America’s newsletter. I DID get Murderati up and running with some of the best writers around. I DID commit to the new series and have developed enough of Iris Martin’s backstory to begin composing her life through novels.
Sure, I’m not a national name — with my name, that’ll be a challenge anyway — but, I continue to build audience and readership. Both of my current books are still, happily, in print and making money.
Right now, I’m sitting at my desk. The wall behind my computer is cluttered with inspiring quotations:
"Don’t get it right . . . Get it written!" James Thurber
"You try and you try and you fail, and then you go deeper." Shunryu Suzuki
It also bears two blue practice targets with bullet holes not quite in the center, but close. Tony Hillerman’s blurb for my new book is affixed there, as are both of the Agatha Award nomination letters. One phosphorescent pink Post It stares back at me, its middle cut out in a nice one-inch square (this is a nod to Annie Lamott’s advice to write at least that much a day).
Today, most of these will come down.
You see, I’m one of those goofballs who actually make New Year’s resolutions. In the past, I’ve kept them pocketed away in my computer. Not this year. I want them where I can see them every day.
Sure, they look much like last year’s goals. Again, I’ll push hard and won’t know what directions all that energy will turn and flow . . .
Outside my window, the snow continues to frustrate many people in my town. Me? I built snowmen with my kids.
I packed a wad of the cleanest white and stuffed it hard into an earthen mug. With brio, I doused the ice with Kahlua and milk.
Yeah, I think 2007 is going to be a good year.
Happy New Year to you and your family, Pari!
(Substitute a dash of Crème de Cacao for the Kahlua and I may need to lookup some snowshoes so I can join you.)
Sigh, so you’re the one who stole our white Christmas? For shame, Pari. And to think I fed you in Nashville. Sigh.
The pictures are beautiful, sounds like you did well with your resolutions. I’m working on mine. One of which is to read your book.
I’m very excited about the Year of the Boar… and a little scared.
But what’s excitement without tension?
Pari, I’ll give you one more Post-it note for 2007, from Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast.
“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.”
Much love and success to all my Murderati pals in 2007!
Well,hell Pari – I think you had a very productive year. Juggling a family, a home and a career in this biz is a major feat in itself. Not to mention putting up with all of us wacko’s here on Murderati. 🙂
HAPPY NEW YEAR ALL!
Now THAT’S an inspiring post. Thank you so much for the snow pictures (especially those adorable snowmen!) and the great quotes, which I must put up around my desk immediately.
Wishing everyone the best year ever… it’s so great to have friends like you all to cheerlead and be cheerled for.
Alex (shockingly unhungover but planning to remedy that post-haste)
B.G.,Creme de Cacao? Oh, that sounds wonderful. Let’s make a date. The next big snowstorm, let’s promise to drink our shakes and honor weather’s ability to make us slow down.
Lonnie,Sorry about snagging your white Christmas. I’ll try to share next year. BTW: I’m honored to know that you’re including one of my books in your resolutions. Wow.
Guyout asks: “But what’s excitement without tension?”
I’d answer: “A really crappy story.”
Louise,What a marvelous quote. Though, I’ll admit that feels like a lot of pressure, to be that honest all the time.
I’d love to know what it means to you.
In a few hours I’ll be at my parents’ house, eating mochi and other delectables. Even though it’s beautiful here in Los Angeles, I honestly wouldn’t mind a little snow–but not 20 inches worth! (Fingers crossed on the skylights.)
You are doing good, girl! Best of luck on the new series. I’m a firm believer in change and the proper time for books and other cultural works. May everything beautifully intersect for you in 2007!
Elaine,You’re such a great cheerleader. Every time I need a lift, you hold out a strong hand. Thank you. Re: not doing enough . . . I doubt any of us writers ever feel like we’ve accomplished everything we set out to do. That’s because us creative types always have more ideas to actualize.
. . . And speaking of Cheerleaders –Alex,You’re so right. Murderati is composed of extradordinarily supportive people. What a joy.
And, I’m glad my post didn’t seem too sappy. I’ve been in this Mom-and-home mode through the whole holiday season. I thought it might sicken you with all its sugar
Naomi,Can I come to your parents’ house? That meal sounds too good to be true.
Thank you for the New Year wish. I know you’ve taken a turn in your own writing career and I can’t wait to read that YA you’ve got up your sleeve.
My wish for you is a marvelous contract for the book — and much, much success for 2007.
Snow and kahlua! What a way to start the new year! 🙂
I have loved your posts – combining children and family stuff with writing is one of my biggest balancing acts. You seem to be doing it gracefully and well. A real inspiration.
My new year has started with a bang. In the past 24 hours, in the most serendipitous of ways, I have been contacted by someone who has lived the life of one of my main characters in the newest book – and has more information than I could ever hope to get on the one piece of the story I have left blank, not knowing enough yet to write it.
That whole thing about books manifesting people into your life is happening in a big way all of a sudden.
I am more than thrilled.
Happy New Year!!!
Had been hoarding the copy of The Clovis Incident you inscribed for me in order to read it and enjoy it over this winter break. I did both and commend it to any of the(presumably few) others of your blog fans who have not read your books.
Happy New Year! (See you in Seattle?)
Billie, congratulations, that’s so cool! It’s just so great how books are a vortex that bring you everything you need to write them. If you just commit.
Thanks for sharing that story – it’s a boost.
Billie,What a treat to hear from you. Thanks. I’m glad some of my posts resonate with your life. This balancing act sometimes feels much more like a desperate attempt not to plummet down the precipice.
That’s extradordinary about the person contacting you. Manifesting reality. Alex is right about our writing often becoming a vortex for what we need creatively.
What a great way to start the New Year!
Keith,What a kind note. Thank you.
I was feeling iffy about Seattle, but have now committed. It’ll be good to see you again and to hear how your ride in this crazy biz is now going. Do the ups and downs resemble what you experienced in the tech biz or have you only had ups? That’d be my wish for you — and every writer who reads this blog.
Alex . . .ah, commmitment. That’d be a helluva post topic.
Lovely post, Pari. Perhaps you’ve mixed some of the sugar in with the snow and that’s the reason the drifts are so large.
Happy New Year to you all. May 2007 be the best yet.
Hurrah for Billie!
Pari, I am SO glad to hear you’re coming to Seattle. It saves us all the trouble of having to kidnap you.
Commitment, yes, well… !
Great post. And that’s quite some “I did” list.
Congrats on a great 2006 and I wish everyone an even better 2007.
Alex,It’ll be great to have so many of the Murderati crew at LCC. I’m really looking forward to it.
Mike,Thanks. I hope my “I did” list is even better in 2007. I know yours will be mighty impressive.
I know that precipice all too well. 🙂 On the slippery days I remind myself that part of what I want to give my children is the knowledge that they can follow their creative dream. Lots of other things can be let go of, but not that.
I just got the first Word doc from my serendipitous new friend and I am enthralled already. The publishing world is not yet paying me to write, but damn, they could never pay me enough to STOP!
I’m sure you all know that quote about commitment, but I will type in it just to add more weight to the thought:
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.”
In my little book it’s attributed to the “Scottish Himalayan Expedition.”
And a musical aside: I got XM radio for Christmas and I am SO happy listening to music off the beaten path of the mainstream radio here. No commentary, no ads, just the music. I am in heaven.
Billie,What an absolute gift this quotation is. Thank you.
I’ve put it on the wall above my computer — right next to my resolutions. I’ll read it everyday when I sit to begin my writing session.
Truly . . . thank you.
Oh, and enjoy that music. I can’t imagine radio w/o commercials. It must be paradise.
Pari, you are MOST welcome. The great thing is, it’s TRUE. 2007 will prove it.
New Year Resolutions? Last year mine was to stop playing some online computer game. I can’t even remember what it’s called, but I was addicted for a year after my SIL came over and was playing it the last Christmas. So I had to promise myself never again. And I did it. Apparently wiped it from my memory.
This year, I’ve been so busy with my end of year deadline, I haven’t even thought of one. But my horoscope today, well, the last line of it at least, was prophetic: Look at the big picture. The details will follow. Considering I’m wrapping up the last chapters of a book I’ve also written twice, and some of the details that worked in the first one aren’t working in this version, I thought that was a fine horoscope. Not that I put too much store in the things.
And I think I had a point. Oh, I know. Happy New Year to all you Murderati Crew. Keep up the good work on an exceptional blog. It’s always interesting to tune in. And Pari, kudos for making it all work!