It was the worst of years.
It was the year my first book came out.
It was the year I had multiple ideas rejected.
It was a year when I was told I was brilliant.
It was a year when I was told I was not.
It was a year when I got my first fan email.
It was a year when my friends and students read my work.
And many of them loved it.
It was a year when I made my first video for a publisher.
It was a year when I did my first book signings.
It was a year when I was interviewed in newspapers as a writer.
It was a year when I got a good review in The New York Times.
It was a year I felt confident saying, “I’m a writer.”
On balance, there was more good than bad. There have been bumps and heartache along the way, and I have said more than once, “I’m going to stop writing,” and been told, “No. You’re too good.” So I kept writing. But not because someone flattered me. Because I couldn’t help myself. When I was studying theater in college, I remember people saying, “Only stick with it if there’s nothing else you can do. Only do it if you can’t help yourself.” Those in the know wanted the outsider to know that the life of the artist was that uncertain. That fraught. That harrowing. So I made a decision. There was something else I could do. I became a teacher. But the creative urge was still there, and so I wrote. And I will keep doing that since I can’t help myself. I really can’t. I love telling stories. I love the act of writing them down. Of getting people to see what I see.
And so we live on hope. All people do, but artists face this daily. A writer spends her time hoping an idea will come. Hoping the idea will bloom into something worthy. Hoping the work will be well received. Hoping people will want more.
A new year rolls in, and I’ve stopped to take stock. To ask myself, “Was it all worth it? Is there anything else I’d rather do with my time?” And the answer is yes and no. Yes, it was worth it. More that I could have dreamed despite disappointment. And no, this is how I wish to spend my time. Until the answers change, I will go on writing.
Because this year brought so many good times.
And next year might be better.