“The holidays are upon us.” I hear that a lot. It has an ominous sound to it, actually. Sounds a bit like an isolated outpost in my fantasy world, Ontyre, that’s beset by a werewolf pack. Then again, if you’ve had the ill fortune to venture into a store this time of year the saying is perhaps more apt than at first glance. Deadly glares. Tendons in the neck bulging. Fangs bared. Hands clenched into fists.
That was what I saw recently while trying to make my way down the baking goods aisle. Yikes! A woman was blocking one half of the aisle with her shopping cart and obstructing the other half with her body—and all the while looking straight at me as if daring me to try and move her.
Okay. I’m a coward. I fled.
Clearly, she was one of those. Pushed to her limit, she’d gone holiday feral.
At least, being a writer, I was able to escape with my imagination intact. If ever I write Werewolf in the Bakery she’ll have the lead werewolf role.
I also escaped with my gratitude still tightly in my grasp. Yes, I have a lot to be grateful for this year.
Since spring, my health has been better than any year since my lungs were damaged in 2009. I wrote two novels, Torment Surfacing and Exhuming Truths. A third, which my heart wasn’t in, and which I tried to write during the longest smoke season I’ve ever witnessed, isn’t a total loss. There are parts that will live on.
I kept up with the blog for another year and posted two poems/week over the duration. This year produced seven short stories (so far). Not as many as I’d have liked, but there weren’t any bad ones. Over at WritingChallenge.org I continue to meet more fantastic writers and receive the kind of encouragement that’s enabled my writing growth. They’ve gotten me through the times when writer doubt has been intense and I wanted quit (not that I ever actually could … I’ve tried before). During the year I became a part of a critique group and can now boast a local beta reader who’s been my biggest encourager this year. She pushes me to achieve in all the right ways.
Along the way, I’ve increased my understanding and skill at writing in Deep 3rd Voice, begun adopting monthly writing goals, and set up a better system for coming up with weekly blog posts (like sharing more about life in the World of Ontyre).
Ontyre? The world continues to grow (as it always will), with more elements added to the glossary every month. The Tremjara map colorization project is now moving at a steady pace thanks to my monthly goals. It also continues to inspire me. My revision map for Bk2 will be complete this week. Anchor scenes are already forming in my brain for Bk3, but there’s a lot to do before drafting it (maybe, just maybe, for NaNo 2018).
So, yeah, I’m ever so grateful, and so much of what I’ve listed above wouldn’t have been possible if my health had failed to turn around. The roller coaster that was my breathing in 2016 is reflected in the unevenness of A River in Each Hand, which I drafted that November. Some parts are the best I’ve written, while others defy understanding.
But, hey!, I’m grateful it’s drafted. Now I have something to work with. Because the writing is uneven doesn’t mean the story is poor. I’m more excited about it now than when I drafted it.
So, that’s where I am this holiday season. More important, I stand at the threshold to winter, my reflective self ready to get to work in 2018. Recently, I finally got around to exploring a winter holiday in Ontyre. It’s called Rapture because love and giving are central to it. A symbolic part of the holiday is a Giving Tree and (supposedly) a kindly wizard who grants wishes. As one character jokes, who would ever think of a wizard as kindly?
For one teenage girl long exploited by the orphanage where she grew up, there remains in her heart the belief that what’s most important is what the holiday stands for.
Let’s all be grateful.