Advent 2012—Christ the King 2013

This might be the ignorance of the anecdotalist speaking, but it seems to me that the average new year's resolution fails because people hope to conquer besetting vices with a burst of enthusiastic will that is guaranteed to last no more than two weeks.

On account of which, I save my attempts at conquering besetting vices for Lent. Advent works better as a time to take stock, to contemplate direction and make adjustments as necessary, settling the ideas by the first of January.

So, I've been contemplating and taking stock, and there's been a lot to this year. There were blue pimpernels and giant pumpkins, sweet peas and strawberries and tomatoes, homemade liqueurs and three months of sunshine. Lou and I chanted from the choir loft together and sang Mozart and The Hallelujah Chorus in ensemble; the latter involved practice sessions with a vocal coach, which enabled me to recover more of my voice than I'd thought possible.

There were also... weeks. There was the week I got the most painful critique I've ever received and then nearly lost three members of my family. There was the week I gave up the family cradle. There was the week divided between a courtroom and a funeral. There were others.

For me as a writer, it was honestly a hard year. Most of my original goals got set aside; I spent more than half the year struggling with my first book and eventually lost my vision for it. Be it for good or be it for ill, however, I am thus far unwilling to give up that story—it's too dear and too unfinished. Many a spare moment in the last week has gone to hunting down and securing my original vision: the bright, simple, beloved thing, unencumbered by secondhand doubts or undue weight belonging to What Is Popularly Considered Acceptable. I want the story whole and at rest, settled and finished the way it was designed and intended to be.

We'll see what happens. A new year may look like a blank slate, but at nearly halfway to seventy, I've discovered I'm not the only one writing on it.

For this year, then, I have a few quiet hopes and plans. If possible, I'd like:

to sleep more

to devote myself daily to Mary

...and to Lou

to learn to love the rain

to read at least fifty-two books, at least four of them retold fairy tales for children

to go on developing home and garden

to finish revising and publish the fairy tale retelling

and to settle—and if possible, to finish—A.D.'s story.

There have already been times during the perpetual chilly and wet twilight these last few weeks that I've thought the rain beautiful.

Happy New Year!

P.S. I am sure the formatting on this is thoroughly scrambled in every view except for the ordinary blog post as it appears in Chrome. I'm terribly sorry. The pictures seemed like a good idea until I discovered, halfway through, just how much format hacking was involved. And now it's too much work to get them back out. :P


  1. Your recitation of highs and lows reminds me of this old John Denver song:

    Some days are diamonds some days are stones
    Sometimes the hard times won't leave me alone
    Sometimes a cold wind blows a chill in my bones
    Some days are diamonds some days are stones.

    I've quoted the first line to myself a lot the past couple of years. Some years are just like that. But keep your eyes up, looking for those diamonds in the sky; they won't let you down when you're tripping over the stones and landing hard on your knees. (Maybe we have to sometimes be on our knees to see them.)

    Although it looks like Maia has found a nice cache of diamonds lying around the "electric beach." :-D

    Here's better year in 2013!


  2. And for a more humorous perspective: today's (Jan. 1st) Pickles comic strip:



    1. HAHAH. Seriously. :D

      Maia loves that little table under the lamp... at least at Christmastime, when I have it covered with a colorful knitted cloth. "Electric beach"--lol.

      And thanks. It wasn't a bad year, really--not horrible or tragic, just difficult and stressful. But I wouldn't say no to a cheerful and easygoing 2013. ;)

  3. I suppose the fact that you should devote yourself minute by minute to Maia goes without saying. :)

    Thinking back on last year, most of it was quiet for Beth & I. Had to buy a new vehicle. Had a beloved congregation & community member die in the week right before Christmas after a long stay in the hospital after some major surgery. Spent many hours counseling a friend & fellow pastor who was suffering greatly from attacks by a dedicated cadre of congregation members. But personally? Not much except for Beth & I trying to keep a handle on our depression.

    I'm hoping 2013 will be mostly uninteresting & slow. What I get, though, will be up to the Lord. I'm about 15 years ahead of you on that road to seventy, so I totally understand what you mean.

    Happy New Year!!

    1. I'm really sorry to hear about your friend who died, George. May his (or her) soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. And gah, I can't bear those attacking cadres. God be with your friend and defend him.

      As for keeping a handle on depression, at intervals that's a full-time job. :) A worthwhile one, though. Here's to an uninteresting, slow, and generally cheerful 2013.

  4. Formatting looks fine to me! Good luck with your goals this year!

  5. 2012 certainly has had it's weeks of joy and of absolute devestation. I'm with you in praying for a new year with more cheer and less stress. Blessed 2013!

  6. Truer words have never been said. Lent is the time for discipline. Advent and the new year, the time for reflection and taking stock.

    The bad weeks were painful for me to read, so I can't imagine how painful they were for you to live. But I am inspired and encouraged by your fortitude and perseverance. It's comforting to know that writing is a craft as well as an art, something to be worked at and, because of that, in the end something much more satisfying to achieve.

    Emily said, "Hope is a thing with feathers that perches in the soul," but I think it is much more powerful than that, a great-winged creature. Hope transforms the end result from inevitability to triumph. Just keep faith during the shadowed times by thinking of the triumph to come.

    I would like to offer to be a cheerleader for you. If you want to share your story as you're (re)writing it, I would like to read it--as a reader, not a writer, a reader looking to enjoy, to take joy in the story with you. Critique is healthy and fundamental, but it should be balanced by enthusiasm and encouragement. Perhaps presenting it to an audience waiting with anticipation for each new chapter will give you something to aim towards. (And it will in no way prevent me from purchasing the completed work when it is published!)

    God bless you and yours.

    1. Christie, you're wonderful.

      Hard years were going around, I think. Mine wasn't outright tragic, at least, just rough. But I love your image of hope as "a great-winged creature." That needs to be a drawing. I wish I were visual artist enough to attempt it. :)

      And--OK, I'll be shameless and admit that I could use a cheerleader. Part of the reason the one critique (though helpful) was so difficult was that that reader claims to never give positive feedback, only corrective remarks, which was not quite true, but true enough to be hard to get through. I am pathetically dependent on affirmation. :P Usually I have my mom and sister fill that role, but they've already had to do that several times for this book.

      I'll email you. Of course, you may want to read the first chapter and decide whether the role of cheerleader suits you. :) No matter what, though, thanks for your kind thoughts and encouragement.

  7. As much sweetness and light and cheer as there was in this post, I thank you for sharing your sadnesses with us as well. The part about the critique distressed me, though, and has been in the back of my mind ever since I read this a month ago. Obviously the details are private or you would have shared them, but I would just like to say, "Haters be damned!" and give you, for what it's worth, my emphatic vote of confidence. I thoroughly enjoyed what I got to read, and thought it was both worthwhile and a far cut above the majority of what is being published these days. You are a good storyteller, and, to cite Plato (well, loosely anyway), that is a gift from God and not a skill that can just be taken by force by someone who has nothing but determination to recommend him. I will think it a great pity and the world's loss if T.L.D never sees the light of day.

    1. Thanks... I think I'll take your vote of confidence and paste it up somewhere where I can look at it while I'm working. I'm taking all I can get to survive this rewrite. :)


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