Spring Is in the Air

For such a short month, February sure packs a wallop. There are so many application deadlines and events and holidays and birthdays (I guess lots of people have sex in May, huh?), and it feels like a generally busy time for all of us. February means business. Now that the Christmas trees are out of the house (though, I saw one on the curb just last week!) and we’ve stopped living on cheese and wine and chocolate and are ready to come out from under our blankets and away from cozy fireplaces, step out of our slippers into non-elastic-waist pants and leave the holidays behind, it’s time to get back to work. 

And I did. I did publicity outreach emails, wrote guest blog posts and answered interview questions, applied to two MFA programs and wrote a statement of purpose, entered seven novel contests, applied for two conference fellowships and wrote the corresponding personal essays, and applied for the NEA fellowship for the first time. (Man, that application is a hassle—but it’s free, so why not?). I accepted an invitation to be on a writers workshop panel in June and to teach a workshop in September. All this on top of my regular trying-to-write schedule and, you know, life.

I have also sort of met my goals of getting outside more and spending less time on social media. I am still not writing enough, but that feels like it’s getting closer. I’m getting to the point where I notice things I want to describe, scenes I witness seem to slow down so I can capture them in my memory and I write them down when I get home. I’ve been making lots of notes, and I’m pretty sure the writing will just pour out of me when the time is right. The fact that I am now feeling hopeful rather than terrified is a shift in itself that tells me I’m making progress, even if it’s not all on a conscious level. Writing is tricky that way.

I think the change in weather also makes me more positive. It’s staying light after 6 pm and the air smells like flowers and the cherry blossoms are blooming pink confetti all over my neighborhood and the sun is out more and the wind isn’t icy on my cheeks. I can open the car windows when I drive and when I’m working so I can hear the birds twittering their songs. I love spring.

This spring means a paperback release for Hand Me Down (I’d be so grateful if you preordered a copy!) and decisions about what to do for next year. I think February was just the primer and March is going to be all kinds of busy, but I also think I’m ready after my winter hibernation.

Change is in the air. I can feel it building. Shifts—in our location, our focus, our behaviors, our perceptions—can be hard, but the other side of the transformation seems promising right now. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Year of the Dragon

Last Monday began the new lunar year for 2012, the Year of the Dragon in Chinese astrology. Dragon years are supposed to be full of prosperity, enthusiasm, optimism, and good changes.

This feels appropriate as I move into a 2012 chock-full of transformation. My book, this thing I worked on, doubted, stressed about, loved, hated, and loved (and hated) again for years, is going to be released out into the world where it can be attacked and ridiculed and misinterpreted. When I’m being optimistic, I know this little piece of me could also be appreciated, enjoyed, related to, and maybe even praised. My agent and editor know what they’re doing, so I’m trusting that the positive will overwhelm the negative, which is the opposite of what my insecurities often want me to believe, but I’m working on reversing that attitude.

I will also get married in 2012, something I never thought I’d do. I did not dream about my wedding or look at bride magazines or create elaborate Barbie ceremonies like other girls I knew. The farthest I delved into marriage fantasy was in elementary school when I was learning cursive and hoped whoever I married someday would have a last name that began with K so I could write the pretty capital cursive letter often. (Incidentally, W does, though I am not planning to change my name.) I’m still not fantasizing about a wedding, but I am excited about the after, about not having to call W my boyfriend when we’ve been together for eight years, about not worrying that if something happens to one of us, doctors or police or whoever wouldn’t tell us what was going on, about being officially in it for the long haul, about us, together, for the rest of our lives.

I’m working on a lot of personal transformations as well—letting go, worrying less, enjoying life more, easing up on myself, not focusing on the tiny flaws and seeing the larger, pretty-damn-good overall picture. I’m trying to shift my reactions so I can allow myself to be proud, to be happy. I’ve worked my ass off to get to this place where I have the things I want and can see a good life materializing before my eyes, and the work now is less about cultivating the drive and determination I needed to get here and more about slowing down and treasuring the things I love no matter how terrified I am of losing them.

So, here we are, one week into the Year of the Dragon, and I am gearing up for the monumental months ahead. Dragons represent power and deliver good fortune, and I already feel that energy building. I don’t know exactly what changes are on the horizon, or how I will handle the ups and downs, the stress and jubilation, and whatever else this year of the dragon brings me. What I do know is that I am full of enthusiasm, optimism, and hope, ready to grow, and thrilled about the changes around the corner.