Friday, December 20, 2013

Gratitude and a Game Plan

In her post this week, Donis wrote about counting blessings. This struck a chord with me because I was thinking about my post for today. My post is a two-parter (to be continued on my next Friday).

At the end of the year -- in between feeling the joy of the season and depression when the cold weather I usually enjoy turns downright frigid and nasty -- I take time to look back. Then I make those New Year's resolutions -- you know, the list -- written or mental -- the things we are going to do or do better. This year, I'm trying a new approach. I'm trying first sending out my thanks to the universe for the things for which I'm grateful. That should help me to view my life with more clarity and formulate a plan for the new year. As I discovered yesterday when I started the day late, without a to-do list, and ended the day feeling I had accomplished almost nothing, I do better with a plan. But I'll talk about that next time.

This week, I'm sending my "thank you" to the universe. As a writer, I am grateful:

1. That I can carry out the physical task of writing. Although I get stiff when I sit too long without moving, I can sit in a chair, in front of my computer, and type. My brain provides me with words and thoughts.

2. My laptop has not given up the ghost, and I have not been forced to shop for a new one. I have the familiarity of a keyboard that I have come to know.

3. I have several places that I can work -- a dining room table, a chair in my living room, a home office. I also can get up and go into my office at school. Or to a bookstore or library or -- when I really need to hide out and concentrate -- a local hotel that happens to be near my house and that serves cinnamon rolls for breakfast.

4. I have -- very important and extremely grateful -- a "day job" that is a perfect fit for a crime writer. My academic research (on crime history and on mass media/popular culture) and my academic day/semester (packed to the gills but with much more flexibility than a 9-5 job) allow me to mesh my two careers.

5. I've worked hard and earned my opportunities, but I also have learned the power of synchronicity. I am grateful that I have learned to look for connections and see possibilities.

6. Related to number five, I am grateful that I have learned how to work smarter. I still procrastinate and waste time, but I have learned how to get what I need in place -- the research, the bones of the book -- before I wander off to eat popcorn and watch a really awful movie. That makes getting back to work a lot easier than it used to be.

7. I am grateful to have readers who occasionally send me notes about how much they enjoyed one of my books. Those messages sometimes come when I staring at a blank screen, wondering why I thought I could ever write -- stupid plot, bland characters, can't even string together the words to make a proper sentence.

8. I am grateful that even when a reader doesn't send me a "loved your book" message when I need it, I can get up and walk over to the bookcase and open one of my books and remember that I have actually managed to produce books that were published and that people read and that if I can get through the first draft, I can fix what's wrong.

9. I am grateful that I've had a pretty good year. I started a new series, I sold a short story. If I didn't have my "breakout book," I at least had my "hey, I'm here" book. I love working with my editor, have an agent who is terrific.

10. I am grateful for family and friends, who support my efforts and help me to stay grounded. And for the friend who serves as a sounding board when I am thinking through a new plot idea. And for my small group of "first readers" when the book is done.

11. I am grateful to have discovered the world of mystery writers years ago. I am grateful for the mystery writer friends I have made -- including my colleagues here on Type M. Knowing that there are people (writers) who understand that walking into a building, seeing a marble staircase, and imagining someone tumbling down those stairs to his or her death isn't necessarily a sign of psychopathy or an anti-social personality is "priceless". As a group, crime writers tend to be intelligent and creative. They also tend to be well-adjusted, kind, and compassionate. That's pretty cool, and I'm grateful to be a member of the "tribe". Hanging out with other writers makes me a better person.

12. Finally, I am grateful for whatever else I  should be grateful for but forgot to mention.


Stay tuned for Part II -- my plan  for 2014 (subject to intervention from the universe).

1 comment:

Charlotte Hinger said...

Wonderful Frankie. And there's nothing like finally finding people who actually understand us.