Saturday, December 31, 2011

Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

There are two kinds of people in the world, and I continue to have a blast writing about them. Looking back, I find that 2011 has been like most years — filled with strains and disappointments, hard work and constant struggle, dotted here and there with the occasional bit of good news and a delicious belly laugh or two. It was a year that both crawled and flew by, and I find my sense of time has morphed into a sense of vertigo.

After years of waiting for life to "get better", I think I've finally figured out that it just gets different. Changes come, some welcome, some un.

Catherine Wallace, a frequent speaker at OCWW, my writers' workshop, once explained that the best way to provide feedback to a writer is to ignore less than perfect writing and concentrate on the parts that shimmer. Her idea is that by pointing out what works best, the writer will return to the mental place that produced the good writing and use that to revise and improve the rest.

I don't know that I believe this is always the best method of critiquing a piece of writing, but do I think it is an excellent way to review the outgoing year. By leaving the negative in the past (where it belongs), and dwelling on the parts of 2011 that shimmered, I hope to be able to bring those sparkly bits forward with me into the New Year to make it a better one.

For me, writing is almost always the best part of my year. I learned a lot in 2011 and have many (too many!) projects in the works. Each effort inspired me to become more creative, more open to making connections. As the year progressed, my sense of what is possible seemed to explode. Thanks to people like literary agent April Eberhardt, I began to believe that the changes in publishing were not death throes, but growing pains. Changes and more changes, some wanted, some un. But with change comes opportunity, if you choose to see it that way.

So here are a few of the writing treasures from 2011 that I plan to carry with me to improve my efforts in 2012:

January — Helped launch my client's website for her new business, Where Are We Going. It has been thrilling to work with Karen Gray-Keeler as she has transformed her passion and avocation into a business. Her energy and creativity are infectious.

February 18 — 14,239 people stopped by to read about Isaac and Molly on the Mike&Ollie blog. I started this blog during National Novel Writing Month 2010 to jump start my memoir about raising 24-weeker premature twins. The blog was picked as Freshly Pressed by WordPress and got more than 40,000 hits in five days. The feedback I got was amazing. Now all I need to do is finish the memoir.

June — Designed and wrote the content for a WordPress-based website for a client, micro mosaic jewelry designer Wendy Gray Raven. Trained her and her daughter how to manage the site and developed a strategy for the blog, connecting her website to her Etsy shop. Becoming more expert in the tools available on WordPress.

March 15 — My first post went up on the Garanimals Blog. Now, once a week, I get to write about pets and animals for an audience of moms, working with an incredible group of bloggers and the amazing Amy Zimmerman. Who knew that being a Reluctant Pet Store Owner would lead to such a great opportunity.

May — Proved that relationships built on the Internet can transform into real-life friendships deeper and more important than most people think possible. It's a reinvention of old-fashioned pen pals with the added advantage of instant gratification. Here's a shout out to my girls: Victoria Flynn, Christi Craig, Julie Jeffs and Rebecca Rasmussen. Great writers, fantastic women.

May 12 — Presented at the annual meeting of Fraternity Communications Association on how to improve print communications for membership-based organizations, and critiqued back issues of many of the group's magazines.

June — Taught a creative writing camp with eight young writers aged 7-11 through the Evanston Arts Camp, thanks to Angela Allyn. Their enthusiasm and curiosity inspired my own writing in unexpected ways and I'm looking forward to the sequel in 2012. (Registration is open now for the Writers' Workshop, pg. 5, camp #922213C2)

June 2 — Ran the first of several social networking workshops, this one on Facebook for beginners. Email me for information on upcoming workshops or to set up a private session.

September 19 — migrated The Animal Store Blog over to WordPress in preparation for the launch of the new website (coming very soon). Found a new voice for the blog, Ernie the Giant Gourami, who has lived at the store since before Kenn bought it 20 years ago. I am understanding more and more that writing is all about voice.

November — "won" NaNoWriMo for the second year in a row (see my winner's badge to the right) by pushing out 50,000 words in a first draft of a new novel. I continue to learn the lesson that you cannot, should not, must not write and edit at the same time.

December — Named as a regular contributor to the Write It Sideways blog. Starting in January through June, I'll be posting twice a month about my favorite subject — writing. Along the way to this assignment, I contributed three guest posts to this great writing website: Hearing Voices? Maybe You're a Writer, How to Bring Your Characters into Focus, Writers Write — Creativity Is a State of Mind. Thanks to Suzannah for this exciting opportunity to expand the writing conversation.

These are just a few of the high points for me. I have more projects in the pipeline that promise to make 2012 a year that truly shimmers. I look forward to sharing it with you, and hope your new year shimmers as well. Look for the third annual Two Kinds of People Guest Post Contest to be announced soon. Thank you for reading. Please leave a comment about one or two of the glittering moments from 2011 that you plan to carry with you into 2012.