Letting Go of 2011

I’m quite glad that the last day of the year falls on a weekend (or a day of the week where I am not at the day job) because it allowed me to take this last day in calmly and give myself time to let the year go. I did have some freelance work to do today, but once I completed that, I was able to sit in quiet reflection and take a long hot shower, washing away the tide of the last year to leave room for the next.

I’ve spent a lot of time the last few weeks looking over my favourite books from the past year. Given the amount that I’ve read, I am glad that I was able to keep track through Goodreads this year. It was good foresight on my part. It is hard to imagine how much happens in twelve months, how many things shift in 365 days, but tracking life through how many books one reads seems to remind me of where I was at when I was reading that book. Like when you hear a song or taste something delectable from your childhood – it brings you back.

This seemed to particularly happen to me when I reviewed my favourite teen books of 2011.  As I went to describe each book, it wasn’t just the book itself that made me love it, but the memories that I associated with it. I recall the exact moment that I finished Lauren Myracle’s Shine and went over to the computer and wrote this review, or how much I wanted to say about Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens – which I got to do with my good friend Chandra. But it wasn’t just the book itself, but what I was going through at the time I was reading them.

I continue to marvel at the connections that are made on the etheric/internet level and on the physical one. Through my obsessions I’ve connected with people who love Laura Ingalls Wilder and L.M. Montgomery and have given me opportunities to write about them. And the authors that I’ve met online who are so generous with their time and knowledge.

I’m grateful for my colleagues at work, particularly #teamteen, a group of women who love YA, write, draw and create wondrous things, and who continually inspire me. They appeared without me even trying and that is always the most pleasant of surprises.

I’m amazed at the people that I’ve met through VCFA. If there ever was a definition of the word “community,” I think that this would be it. Cards arriving in the  mail with grade school key chains and bat illustrations. Email checkins right when I needed them. What is the most amazing thing of all is that I didn’t know them this time last year. Somehow that doesn’t seem even possible.

I’m grateful for those who took a chance on me this year and encouraged me to apply for things, write for things, and believed in me when I continue to second guess myself. I think the one thing that I want for 2012 is for me to believe that I deserve success without feeling guilty for feeling that way.

My old friends who continue to sit by and watch me go through another course – cheering me along the way.

My family, specifically my parents, brother and grandmother, who are always encouraging. I love that my brother and I can talk shop.

My partner for making sure that I eat. For taking over some things in the house that I cannot physically do right now while balancing a full time job, school and freelance work. He continues to amaze me of his generosity and compassion. All this and still I wasn’t sure how he felt by this writing life I’ve mapped out for myself. But this holiday he gifted me with the tools of a writer which told me more about how he felt about what I was doing than I even realized.

If we consider our successes of 2011, let us remember the connections and communities we create. It hasn’t always been easy. There have been a few areas this year that I could have handled better. I’m grateful for that time because it taught me about myself and hopefully I’ll do better next time.

There is a lot of talk about 2012 and the end of the Mayan calendar. I would like to remind people that the end is often the beginning of something exquisite, opening ourselves up to opportunities beyond our wildest imaginings. My wish for you is to remember this when we hear fear based words that instead we  focus on the connections we make with our family and friends and live in the gratitude of where we are now.

Happy New Year!

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About Melanie J. Fishbane

My novel, MAUD: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery was published in 2017 through Penguin Random House on April 25, 2017. I hold an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Here I talk about my writing process, things I love, and creative people who inspire me.
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