Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Last Year

No, not the year just past, but the last year. The Mayan calendar stopped with 2012. Some say the world as we know it will end, that this will be the last year.

For me, at least, it wouldn’t be terrible if that were true. Then I won’t have to start my next novel.

My first novel, Just Out of Reach, has had some success. People seem to enjoy it. They ask if I’ll write a sequel.

I’ve begun to say yes with some reluctance. I got clarity on my doubts during a conversation with my sister. She’s a visual artist. Her Christmas present to me is a watercolor of the L.A. Arboretum before the recent wind storms. I called to thank her.

“Do you really like it?” she asked. I heard uncertainty in her question.

“Of course,” I replied. “It’s very good. I’m going to frame it.”

“Still, I tell people they’re free to put my paintings in garage sales or give them away.”

“Why would they do that?”

“Well, I did a painting of one of Shelley’s dogs. It came out quite good. Everyone recognizes it immediately. Shelley wants me to do one of her other pup.”


“And I don’t know exactly how I did that one. I’m afraid the next won’t be as good.”

“Ah. Like me and my next book. I’m having trouble starting for the same reason – what if it’s not as good.”

We laugh, knowing we’ll each wrestle with our fears and tackle those projects.

Soon, I promise. After Christmas. Christmas came and went. No progress. I revise my promise. I’ll begin in January. But my critique group meets the second week of January. We’ve agreed to exchange our work via email a week in advance. OMG! that’s this Tuesday, January 3, 2012!

And still I busy myself with every task but writing. I’ve redone my bedroom—bought a new bedspread and repainted a wall to show it off. The wall is a work of art, in a way. And it’s a way to avoid sitting my butt in the chair and writing.

I’ve watched movies, both in the theater and at home. I’ve gone for long walks to clear my head, intending to write as soon as I get home.

Instead, I play with the cat or find some minor task that must be done. Today, after cruising the mall for an hour, I painted a portion of two walls in my living room.

Now, finally, I’ve started. My characters are clearing their throats, making suggestions, giving advice. I’ve got three versions of the first few pages to send to the critique group. Life is good.

The last year? I hope not.

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