Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Book of Opportunity

“A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.” ~Author Unknown

As a New Year approaches, the urge to take stock of our life bubbles up like a sip of fine champagne. Let’s lift a glass and toast our accomplishments, savoring the taste of our creative endeavors…the potential of the New Year sparkles like stars within our hearts!

We’ve all made goals… Some we’ve achieved and some still dangle like a sprig of mistletoe, just out of reach. The beauty is, no matter how far that finish line may seem, we’ve all accomplished remarkable things. Each page written, each book completed, even these essays I post, all are testament to my ability to accomplish great things. Too often, we focus with such fervor on an arbitrary point we consider The Finish Line we disregard the volume of work along the way.

While watching a silly holiday movie (often, the best kind!) I chuckled as the couple on the screen prepared to celebrate their 'six month' anniversary. There's even been a television episode or two which pokes fun as couples celebrate their six week, two day, fourteen hour and seven minute anniversary! Still, there's a good idea nestled in there.

Every page we agonize over, every idea that sees fruition, every task from synopsis to query letter is a goal that should be celebrated. There is no singular finish line because a career in writing means there will always be new objectives and our aspirations will shift and evolve right along with our career. Which is why, my friends, it's vital to celebrate right now.

Celebrate each chapter completed by acknowledging your status as a working writer. Yup. That's what I said. I know it sounds crazy but here's the thing. Every watch a kid at play and marvel over their endless energy and never-failing enthusiasm? The automatic assumption is that the source of infinite energy springs from youth. On my birthday this year, I watched the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Tribute concert and discovered an amazing thing. All these musicians seemed to have endless energy and boundless enthusiasm despite their years. Why? Because they love what they do and for them, each song sung, each note hit is a reason to celebrate.

This is the true secret of youth. Happiness and enthusiasm. There are two directions your face can turn, downward into a frown or upward into a smile. Likewise, there are two ways we can look at every accomplishment, whether major or minor. We can brush it off and reinforce that arbitrary finish line as the only accomplishment that matters OR we can recognize that each page written, each query sent off, each moment spent dedicated to our craft deserves acknowledgement.

So this week, when looking back over the year, rather than focusing on the lack, let's focus on what we managed to pull off. Count those pages, those queries, the critiques, the essays, the blogs, the comments, the emails, the promo, the edits, the revisions, and you might just find what a productive writer you really are. Wow. Mark that on the first page of next year's calendar as a reminder of all that can be accomplished in the life of a writer.

Sure there's been some challenges, and more than a few frustrations. Now's the time to shake off the skirmishes and discard the disappointments and relish the opportunity to begin anew.

A new chapter each year, a fresh page each day. This is the life of a writer.

“For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”~T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"

The days stretch before us like pristine snow. It is up to us to step forward and forge our own path. How freaking exciting is this? A whole year to accomplish new goals, to wrap up ongoing projects, to meet the face of destiny and see that her face is our own.

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.” ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Now’s the time to choose how to fill those pages. How best to seize opportunity. How to celebrate our awesome career with every accomplishment. We Are Writers. No matter how onerous the task can be, we are the luckiest creatures that exist. We Create Worlds. We Are The Magic Makers.

“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.” ~Ellen Goodman

And while, at times, we may be tempted to chide ourselves or bemoan the days behind us, let’s make a pact to focus on the potential instead. Who cares if we didn’t plant a seed in time to catch a particular rainstorm 273 days ago! There are seeds a’plenty and a promise of sweet rain to nurture those budding plants to new heights. Plot out your garden and plant away! Harvest time will come, and we will be ready.

"A new year is unfolding—like a blossom with petals curled tightly concealing the beauty within.” --Anonymous

Let’s tease out the beauty within each idea. Breathe gently to encourage those petals to unfurl. Those ideas nestled deep within your soul are aching for release. We are the luckiest of all people. We Are Writers!

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right. ~Oprah Winfrey

Write ON!

Let’s set our goals and see what we will accomplish.

Happy New Year, Everyone!

--Chiron O'Keefe

Also featured at Pop Culture Divas and Between the Lines.


Kathy Holmes said...

I've been having such a blast with my new keyboard that I've been feeling guilty for having so much fun - isn't that crazy? The reverse extreme is feeling frustrated when I made it through the first 6 phrases of a song easily and got stuck on the 7th, realizing it's going to be much harder than I had thought. But I mustn't let this deter me - I must celebrate what I have accomplished. To make it fun but still push yourself toward the goal - a fine balancing act. Thankfully, I can stop by your blog and fill up on more steam when I run out. Thank you sistah! Hope you have a fabulous 2010!

Julia Smith said...

'...pokes fun as couples celebrate their six week, two day, fourteen hour and seven minute anniversary! Still, there's a good idea nestled in there.'

What a great notion, Chiron. It's very true and yet hard to grasp when in the throes of creativity, sometimes, because for me the fiction writing process is often frustrating and painful. As opposed to my blogging, which is completely fun and joyful.

I'll make sure to celebrate each page of my novel that I manage to come up with in the New Year.

And Happy New Year!

dirtywhitecandy said...

'Count those pages ...edits, the revisions, and you might just find what a productive writer you really are....Mark that on the first page of next year's calendar as a reminder of all that can be accomplished ...
Great advice, I shall do exactly that! May your 2010 be just as productive as your 2009.

Anonymous said...
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Chiron said...

Hi Kathy!

*snort* It's crazy but oh-so-familiar! There's this old, worn-out and definitely outdated belief in many of us that suffering is good and fun is bad. Or as David Bromberg would say, "You've got to suffer if you want to sing the blues." *grin*

Your new branch of creativity should help smash through that wall, since music can't help but be fun!

So, yes, DO Celebrate because trust me, the various stages of music will fly by. When I first started, there were so many chords beyond my reach. I'd just shrug and say, "Well, okay, I can't play that song. What can I play?"

Imagine my delight when the next year I suddenly realized songs that were impossible now were accessible. And every year more barriers crumble away and more possibilities open up. It's so freaking exciting! Why, just two nights ago, hubby pulled out electric guitars and afterwords said, "I actually think you play BETTER on electric."


Previously, the electric guitar seemed like a magnifying glass to every mistake I made. NOW, I sound BETTER. Woo-hoo!!

Keep on balancing the celebration and the goals, Kathy. That's the true secret of harmony. *wink*

Congrats again on such a cool gift (and cool hubby :-D ). Happy New Year!!


Chiron said...

Hello there Julia!

Ah, you and I are sisters in the frustration and pain. Sometimes I just get so envious when other writers share their enthusiastic light-hearted joy as they compose another story. For me, the process can be like pulling teeth. *laughs*

Gloria Steinem said, "I do not like to write--I like to have written."

Once I push past my own resistance and get those pages written, I feel relief and a rush of joy. While others feel resistance to editing, I love that process because The Book Is Done! Polishing is easy compared to composing. *snort*

So, DO celebrate those pages and know that you're not alone. Early on I began noting the number of pages written on my calendar. Often, seeing those numbers were what kept me going! I'll be celebrating right along with you, my dear!

Happy New Year! May this year offer opportunities beyond our fondest expectations. :-D


Celia Yeary said...

CHIRON--I like Ellen Goodman's quote. Nice. The New Year will really be a continuation of projects in the works. Yet, we always want something new, don't we? For me? I'm searching for some kind of change in my routine and goals. Wish I knew the answer, but that's my New Year's outlook.Thanks for a wonderful essay! Celia

Chiron said...

Hey Roz!

Thanks so much, my dear. Wishing the same for you! Nothing pleases me more than counting up that productivity. Yes, yes, YES!

Here's to a productive, prosperous, healthy, happy and inspired year of creative accomplishment for us all.

Cheers! *clink*


Shelby said...

here's to more sleep and less work.

cheers :)

invisiblesound said...

thank you for a year of inspiration, laughter, and insight. I love you and your blog!

Chiron said...

Shelby, I hear you! Wishing more snooze time... :-D


Chiron said...

Aw, thanks so much, Cathy! Hope you have a wonderful New Year!