I spent December digesting what I learned from my November, my mini-NaNoWriMo. In that month, I wrote around 25,000 words, which is only half of the true NaNo goal, but that was fine because I said, quite truthfully, it wasn’t my aim to get the full fifty. But I plugged away, and with a correct sort of dedication, and I thought I was really getting somewhere.
In true keeping with my process, what I understood at the month’s end was that I’d written most of that chunk simply in order to find the starting place I really needed. From what I’d done in November, I kept some broad strokes—conceptual, plot-based things—and bundled the rest safely into a holding pen with the rest of the false starts.
I’ve spent this second half of December restarting, again. I want to say that this, this is the correct starting point, but that will only jinx me.
At the end of November and into the beginning of December, just as the semester’s end was approaching in its whirlwind wind-up-cool-down push-pull that it always is, I read Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries and was saved, as I have been before, by reading the exact right book at the exact right time. I set one of those reading goals on Goodreads last year, a target number of books to read, and I didn’t make it. I don’t know if I’ll set a target number this year, but I think I will finally settle back down with The Greenlanders because Catton gave me back that thirst for good, big books.
I will probably end up making some manner of resolutions post sooner rather than later, because I like that kind of thing, even when it’s predictably ineffective. The hope is sustaining, for a little while, and I’ve learned that I can talk myself into recreating it again, usually in mid-February, and again toward the end of April, and so on. It’s cyclical in my life, the energy for positive change, and I’m starting to recognize that wheel better. (It’s a bit ironic that it’s taken me this long, being a medievalist and being well-acquainted with Fortune’s Wheel and all that, but, well, forests, trees, visually obstructive noses, and so forth.)
Some of the upswing is mandatory: the spring semester begins in slightly less than two weeks, and there’s much to be done between now and then. The resolution game, the cycle, is also part of a scheme to use well
the time that I have. My spring usually includes two conferences, the all-absorbing AWP
and the smaller, quieter CEA
, both of which give me opportunities to present my creative and pedagogical work, to test things out with an audience of comfortable peers. Due to an overabundance of enthusiasm in the fall, I’m also adding NeMLA
and the Kalamazoo Medieval Congress
to present some new scholarship. All four of these events take place in a six-week span, which overlaps with the last five weeks of the spring semester. The timing isn’t exactly ideal, but it’s exciting (and a little terrifying) and I will start the rituals for good weather then right now.
Tonight, we’re celebrating the turn of the New Year pretty quietly at home, though I am going to make lamb chops for the first time, and individual chocolate cakes with dulce de leche because David Lebovitz
has never steered me wrong.