Today Is My New Year

Photo © 2009 Puzzler4879 CC 2.0 BY NC, from a postcard c. 1910

Your new year might have begun this past Saturday, on 1/1/11–as though there were something significant to that date. But my new year officially began today, on the first day the kids went back to school. (Yay!) There really is something significant to this day.

I began by driving my Firstborn to school this morning. Then I returned home and went back to sleep. Ah, it felt so good to sleep in!

And sleep. And sleep.

(Which is only one of the reasons this post is so late today.)

This year, I have no resolutions about eating better (I’m already doing that) or losing weight (I’ve already lost 2 inches around the middle, but the third is the hardest) or working a certain way (I think I’m on a good track regarding my work processes and methodologies). Rather, this new year simply feels like the end of one phase of my life and the beginning of another. Whether it will turn out that way, only the new Father Time will be able to say. Even so, as I look back on the past year, I see the promise of great change in my personal life.

I have appreciated more than ever the connections I have, and continue to establish, with other authors and writers and readers. The Big Book Giveaway has been a blast, despite that it has been a tremendous amount of work. Even so, I’m glad I have been able to go for it. And I’d like to put together a quarterly (or maybe even monthly) paper newsletter, an idea I’ve toyed with in the past. My current idea goes something like: a short introductory letter + a short-short story or sketch + a guest article or interview + a book review + a writing tip + an epilogue. That should fill up 3-7 8½x11 pages.

This past summer, I took a software contract just for the money. And I learned the value of earning money, just for the money, not for the fun of it, because I actually paid off a whole credit card, and that was very fun. (So much fun that I’m still in denial about the fact that they came back with $143 extra interest that they billed afterward. Stupid jerks, trying to steal my rush!) But I discovered that I feel empty when I don’t write, and that I don’t have enough mental energy to work full-time just for the money plus part-time writing just for the fun. With luck, there’s another solution.

I discovered the Human Givens approach to psychological counseling, and I even subscribed to the Human Givens Journal. Why? When I’m not a psychologist? Well, every novelist is a psychologist (which is a book about writing that’s brewing in the front of my mind), because every storyteller needs to understand the minds of his characters, even if they are very different than he. Psychologists are still debating what Human Givens has to offer the practice of psychology, but I’m finding it a godsend to the practice of character writing. I feel my writing now on the verge of another quantum leap forward, as it was when I first discovered Holly Lisle’s Create a Character Clinic.

And my journey as a writer has brought me a new perspective on human nature that I never expected, which I find myself applying in my personal life. I try very hard not to cross the line and psychoanalyze my friends. But I can’t help empathizing with them, even when I disagree with their actions or motives, because that’s what a character author does with his characters.

There’s also the drama at my church, which I have not written about yet. Big changes are a-comin’. But I wanted at least to get through the holidays before acting on them, or even writing about them, because you don’t chop down a dead tree during winter. But the winter is about to turn into spring. And I’ve been relying increasingly on the fine people at my family’s synagogue (also mine, by the way) for my sense of community and spiritual fulfillment. Truly, both an end and a beginning, and I have mixed feelings and thoughts about it all, and many of them challenge convention. As I explore and venture into some of these thoughts, you should not be surprised if I become very unpopular in the coming year.

Everything changes. The single constant in the universe is change. Even on an astronomical scale, stars come into being, and they die; whole galaxies merge with each other, and they fly apart. Astronomers say that someday the very matter that makes up the universe will rip itself apart. Of course, that’s billions of years after our sun itself blows up, taking every life form on Earth with it. No one is immune from change. But in the meantime, at least we can hope that they are promising changes, and that God will use them all for good.

May you have a happy and prosperous new year!