A Writer’s Year in Review

four seasons treeA year goes by so quickly now.

When I was a child, it took forever to get from one birthday to the next. Time was a slow-moving beast whose sticky paws held me down and made me wait. Now, whole seasons pass in what feels like an afternoon. I turn my back for one minute and Memorial Day has become Labor Day, and then Halloween and the holidays.

When you are a child, you don’t need to do anything today because there is always tomorrow. You have no sense of urgency, no true belief in “The End.” When we grow up, time shrinks. The long, idle days of doing nothing are suddenly filled with a jostling crowd of demands that turn hours into minutes and months into days. We are so busy wrangling whatever is right in front of us that we lose sight of what’s ahead. Suddenly tomorrow is yesterday and all our good intentions have been shuffled into a dusty corner, where they huddle – forlorn and reproachful.

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I am a writer. I have always been a writer. I will always be a writer.

I write almost every day: morning pages, journal entries, marketing content, a bi-weekly column (and occasional feature) for my local paper, lots and lots of blog posts.

And yet, my good intentions are getting restless.

They want more.

They aren’t fooled.

They want the real deal, and so do I.  I don’t just want to be a writer; I want to be a Writer. I’m deeply grateful that I’m able to make a living playing with words to create brands and content for my marketing clients, but in my heart of hearts I’ve always wanted to write a different kind of story – the kind of story that keeps readers up until late into the night because they just have to know what happens next.

That’s what I dreamed of doing when I was a kid and had all the time in the world.

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A year in the life of a writer is not measured in days or seasons; it’s measured in beginnings, middles, and endings. A writer’s year is measured word by word and story by story. It’s measured in truths revealed and true lies told well.

When I look back as a writer on the past twelve months, I am happy to be able to count many small victories, but I am also keenly aware of all the good intentions still waiting in the wings. I have excuses for neglecting them – very good excuses, all very valid and believable. But, excuses won’t stop the years from slipping by like the blurred scenery outside the window of a speeding train. One of these days, that train is going to pull into the station and the ride will be over.

It’s time to pull the emergency brake.

I will not beat myself up over lost time or opportunities and neither should you. The past is the past. We can’t change it. We can only change the present. What action can you take right now – this minute – to bring your good intentions one tiny step closer to being realized? What small choice can  you make to put your Important Work ahead of your busy work? What will you do to keep your promises to yourself?

Each year in the life of a writer is a good year, even the ones filled with strife and heartache and disappointment. Everything teaches us. Everything becomes raw material for the work of putting down words and shaping stories. Sometimes, the deepest tragedies can be our greatest gifts. Sometimes, our own shortcomings can be the fuel that pushes us past our fears and excuses so we can become the writer we want to be.

There is a new year on the horizon. We are rushing towards it even as we look back at the old one. It is good to take a moment to see how far we’ve come, but do not tarry too long with what was. You don’t live there anymore. You live here, right now. This is your time. What are you going to do with it?

Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.

Photo Credit: joiseyshowaa via Compfight cc

36 thoughts on “A Writer’s Year in Review

  1. When we grow UP time shrinks..Yes! and Wow..never heard it expressed that way; but isn’t that the truth???! And doesn’t it seem also as if we’re ALL so , so busy?? ?? Good grief! Trying to do, do and bring positive light to others also is time consuming..My weeks are flying by in a blur and yet? I try also to pull the emergency brake(love that phrase!) and live in the moment..Difficult sometimes..So many good memories flying by that I wish, I wish I could just freeze frame and HOLD..If only for a moment..Or two..Your write made me reflect pleasant thoughts..Well said & expressed. 2 thumbs UP

    • So glad to have invited some reflecting. 🙂
      Time DOES fly. No question. The more we put into our days, the shorter they seem to get. That’s part of the reason I’m starting to explore the minimalist life … having less and being able to do more. I’m a newbie, but it’s all very interesting.

  2. When I look back at this time last year, I was just beginning chemo for endometroid cancer. The whole beginning of this year was a blur of chemo treatments and doctor visits, all so exhausting. I used that as an excuse not to write. And then came the recovery time after the chemo… more excuses. I am now learning to be present in the moment and stop beating myself up over excuses. I write when I can, as often as I can. Thank you for this wonderful reminder to stay present.

  3. Don’t be so quick to dismiss the past. As writers, we should consistently remind everyone to learn from history because the mass consciousness forgets, dies or is too new to know it. It’s our responsibility to be the caretakers of that mass consciousness.

  4. This post is really meaningful. Time seems to go slow these days and I’m in 6th Grade. Thank you for the reminder to stay in the present and take action in the future. One of my friends are leaving the school…I’m going to miss him but I don’t know what to do, thanks for the advice. WE CAN’T CHANGE THE PAST.

    • Time speeds up and slows down all throughout our lives depending on what’s going on and how we’re feeling. Being present helps us to better control our perceptions of time so that we can get through the hard bits more quickly and savor the best bits longer.

      Sorry your friend is leaving school. I hope you’re able to keep in touch. I’m reading “Love, Stargirl” this week and really enjoying it. Sounds like a relevant story for you.

      • Time does speed up…..and slow down. They say….time flies when you’re having fun. SO TRUE! Also……yeah….I will try to keep in touch…probably. “Love Stargirl” is a book I haven’t read yet, though I want to.

  5. “Time flies when your having fun!” I heard as a youth. Today time flies with no regard of my state of mind. Thank you for your post, always an inspiration!

  6. A beautifully written post and a timely reminder. Pulling on the emergency brake here too, right now. I really don’t want this ride to be over without having given it my best shot! Thank you for the nudge.

    • I’m nothing if not an excellent nudger. 😉
      Thanks for your kind words.
      Good luck pulling your emergency brake and giving it your best shot. That’s the best thing you can do!

      Happy writing!

  7. A wonderful post mirroring my own feelings. What could I do with my time you ask? Well, possibly it’s the time to begin compiling a collection of my stories for publication? Thanks for the inspiration!!

  8. I agree the older we get the faster seems like time flies. Sometimes as an adult I think it would be better to have the world flow at the speed when I was small.

    There is so much to do now and so little time to do it in. *sigh* but as a writer we can only take that time and use it the best we can. I’ve wanted to write forever I have notebooks upon notebooks filled with stories in a box that is now packed away in my parents garage. The best thing that I can do for myself now is a write now is get some of my writing finally out there and that’s what I am doing with my Harry Potter Fan Fiction blog.

    I know it’s not totally original writing but I think it will help me blossom as a writer so that I can, write the amazing stories that I want to write. I also believe that the fuller we go into life the more experiences we have to write about and the more experiences we can draw for the better a writer we can get.

    Time can only make us a better writer and I plan to use that time more wisely now!

    • Any writing is better than no writing and all writing leads to better writing.
      I applaud you for what you are doing – for keeping on and not giving up.

      And I agree wholeheartedly that living life more fully is an excellent way to both feed our writers’ souls and find new content to mine for our stories.

      Bravo across the board. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Stunning post! Such a gorgeous way to describe the passage of time.

    And I too have many good intentions waiting to be molded into something more.

    Today, after work I’ll be going home and continuing work on my novel. Forward progress is good progress.

    I may also look in on poems started and abandoned. Offer them a little love.

  10. Writing a novel was for sure the hardest, yet most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. The feedback from readers, telling me they stayed up all night because they “just couldn’t put it down” is the greatest compliment I can imagine! You’re right…time flies. There simply is not enough for all the stories that live inside us. But good luck in your endeavors!! Enjoy the ride 🙂

  11. How right you are. I lot of time has gone by for me. My kids are grown and on their own now which gives me time for the writing I should have been doing for a long time now. My daughter who acts and writes encouraged me to start Morning Pages then a blog. I’m also working on a book and a short story. I don’t know when I’ll finish but I’m at least doing it now–by the way, I love the snow. I’m in India; living here because my husband’s an Indian citizen and we don’t get snow this far south, but I’m originally from Ohio where there’s a “lot” of it. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

    • I love my morning pages practice. It definitely helps me clear my head and I often find that (by page 3), I’m getting some words down that I might actually use somewhere else later. 😉

      Sorry you won’t get any snow. I wish I could send you some of ours. The Farmer’s Almanac says we’re in for a lot this year. First real storm scheduled for this weekend – six to twelve inches. Not sure I’m ready, but it will make for a lovely, white Christmas.

      Merry-merry!

  12. This is so true. Like you, I’m lucky to make my living as a part-time freelance writer and a part-time marketer, but there is a big part of me that longs to take that next step — to write something that you stay up late with because you can’t bear to put it down. I hope 2014 is our year. Best of luck.

    • Thank you, Jonny, for stopping by and taking the time to share a note.
      Happy to have another marcom writer in the mix.
      Here’s to our fiction writing aspirations. May 2014 be the year we let loose!
      🙂

  13. Jamie,
    The question you asked, “What will you do to keep your promises to yourself?” Wow…it hit me like brick! Great question that will involve some sincere thought. Thanks for that. I need to find that answer if I am going to have any kind of success as a blogger/writer…well as a Writer! Thanks again. Be blessed!

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