It’s 2017. The year is still relatively fresh and untangled. My new planner is unblemished and full of possibilities and goals. There’s a general feeling in the air of newness, but also How did we get here?
For me, personally, 2016 was both amazingly wonderful and also devastating. I met and got engaged to my fiance this past year. I met three delightful critique partners. I rediscovered the joy in art. I wrote my first short story. But this year also saw the end of friendships, a crushing election, moments of paralyzing anxiety, and the deaths of too many people, including two that struck close to home. For the first time in my life, I understood the true dichotomy of ups and downs.
I expect that 2017 will be much of the same. How do we move forward into a year as uncertain as this one?
I’ve considered that question for weeks now and the thing I keep coming back to, over and over again, is hope. As long as we have something to hope for, we have something to live for.
So, here’s my list of hopes this year:
- Be kinder. There are so many ways to be kind. Open doors for people. Smile at people who look like they might need it. If you have the money, carry pre-paid Dunkin Donut giftcards in your pockets and hand them out to the homeless, especially in the cold months up ahead. Read to a child. Volunteer somewhere. This year, and for the next few years, we’ll need kindness more than ever.
- Write the world I want. I’ve always written stories. My hard-drive is littered with abandoned manuscripts. This year, though, I hope to write a story that encapsulates the world I’d like to live in. After all, in order to live in a certain kind of world, we have to create it first, right?
- Learn to love the fear and pain of writing. 2016 was the first year I did not write at least one novel since 2003. Part of that is probably because I let the fear of potential success play with my anxiety – if I wrote a book I liked and queried it, what if it got rejected? What if it didn’t, but a publisher hated it? What if they didn’t, but readers hated it? Part of it was also because I was terrified I’d waste months writing another abandoned thing, so perhaps it was better to not write anything at all. This year, I hope to love that fear and uncertainty and pain, because without it, I can’t have any joy.
- Create art. I love creating things. Sometimes I’ll sit on the couch with a crochet hook and a ball of yarn, and I’ll fuss around for an hour and wind up with a tangled mess of yarn. This year, though, I’d like to channel that energy into creating finished art products, because there’s something a bit more satisfying about holding a completed scarf in my hands than a wavy circle of yarn that I put together. I hope to have more completed drawings and paintings as well this year.
- Cherish my relationships. I’m getting married this year, so relationships are more on my mind than ever. But it’s not just my relationship with my almost-husband, but my relationships with family and friends and critique partners that I want to cherish. Life is so precious. The only thing that is guaranteed, as we saw in 2016, is that one day, we’ll also die. So cherish the people you have now, because you never know when you won’t have them.
What are your hopes this year?