As 2016 draws to a close, I think many in the writing community are thinking the same thing as me: good riddance. It’s been a rough year among my writing friends, but there have also been triumphs. People I love were in turmoil, and others celebrated life-goals met. The bitter mingled with the sweet. Personal troubles were briefly outweighed by writing milestones. Even now, I’m clinging to the holidays like I haven’t in the past, letting myself enjoy them for the simple love of candy canes and sugar cookies. I feel a sense that things in 2017 may change, but I can’t tell where they are going. All I know is that I want so badly to recenter, refocus, recharge. As the New Year approaches, here are a few of the things I’m resolving to do with my writing.
In 2016 I wrote over 120 poems and roughly twenty or so short stories. I have been told by fellow writers that this is a large output. Yet Some thing in me continues to insist it is not enough. Perhaps this is because these works were squeezed out in early mornings and late nights, rarely at my desk in the comfort and solitude of my home office. When I look back on this year’s writing accomplishments, they still feel metered, as if I’ve stolen them from the ether. The appropriate goal may instead be, “Revise more” or “Make more space to write”. At any rate, my hope is to approach writing with even more seriousness in the New Year.
It’s rare that I find myself writing to a trend, so this goal may be more about aligning my expectations. There are times when I find myself so drawn to conversations in the writing community that when I come back to the page I’m paralyzed – have I written a character appropriately? Is this story one that I should tell? Should I be this personal, this dark, this honest? There’s a difference between questioning a work after it’s done to make sure it’s done right, and quitting halfway because of fear. That’s when things freeze up. This year, I want to unthaw my imagination and try to focus on what I love in my own work, what excites me. There are very many times when I read work out in the world and wonder what the editor was thinking to publish it. However, I have to learn to turn this critic off in my own work.
Building on #2, I’d like to see the writing world challenged more. I’d love to see more new voices in SFF and realist fiction. I’d love to see the SFF and speculative community embrace new forms. In my own work, that means letting myself do strange things. Letting form reflect content. Letting my mind go crazy with ideas.
Writing is hard. Friends make it better. In 2017 I want to foster better relationships and be more aware of toxicity in my community. I want to listen, not speak. I want to do what I can to help the writers around me.
What are your New Year’s writing resolutions?
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Holly Lyn Walrath is a freelance editor and author of poetry, flash fiction, and short fiction. Find her on Twitter @HollyLynWalrath
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