Shaping the Year
For me, the year starts in May. This is wholly a side effect of my dayjob. We go back in May—it’s like how academics get new beginning and carpe diem feelings around September. The calendar year is one thing. On a bone-deep, feeling level, we shape the year according to our own lives.
(Fun story: I once exclaimed to my crazy-smart and priestly friend Rachel, “It’s so cool how the liturgical and agricultural calendars mirror each other so well!” She just laughed.)
So for me, the year falls into two distinct parts: Season and Off-Season. Dayjob and full-time creative work. Museum Months and Winter. They’re both important parts of my life. Usually, I’m chomping at the bit to get back to work. This year’s been so busy that my feelings are more, “Oh…sure! Yes, that would be very pleasant!”
Still happy to go back. It’s just not been foremost in my mind, you know?
I like this idea of thinking of the year holistically. There’s something very comforting about seeing its rhythms as part of a larger context. The off-season is ending, which means that my creative work will slow down. It has to. I’ve been working full days all winter—I can’t add another 30-40 hours/week and expect to maintain the same pace.
But that’s okay, because we’re looking at the larger picture. Just like the agricultural calendar: it’s okay that the fields lie quiet in January. It’s not the time for sowing in January. It’ll be time in the spring. The time will come.
Of course, it’s problematic if you’re spending the entire year with fallow fields. That’s not the point. The point is recognizing that just because things are slower right now this second, it doesn’t mean that you’re screwed long term. As I’ve discussed, I write yearly goals. Knowing the year’s shape helps me slot them in, in their proper seasons.
The big things this off-season were finishing the HEARTSTEALER audiobook, and finishing the first draft of SING TO THE BONES. Heavy lifting, time-intensive projects, best suited for the winter (best suited, not only suited—I wrote HEARTSTEALER during the museum season). Outlining my Ed Greenwood Group novels, writing more short stories, and the odd freelance editing gig? Those fit in more easily around my dayjob.
Everything gets its time, in its time.
Quite frankly, this is how I manage to get everything done. Sure, the chronic insomnia helps, but things go so much more easily if there’s structure. You don’t have to think so much then. Essentially, you’re hacking the calendar. Everything slides into its proper place, at its proper time, and then boom—the off-season rolls around again, and you’ve accomplished rather a lot.
That’s the plan, anyway. I think my favourite winter was still the one we recorded HAPAX, simply because we were all so young and naïve and optimistic…but this one runs a close second.
Cloistered creative work gets a little…insular. While I’ve enjoyed hermiting away, I’m excited to see the apple trees bloom—for the white petals to carpet the grass. I want to meet the new lambs. I want to hear the trees creaking and moaning in the wind; to feel the sun on my arms; to walk through the stillness before we open, when everything seems brand-new and possible.
Everything in its season.
What about you? How do you shape your year?
What I’m Listening to This Week
Totally a guilty pleasure—for me, Celtic Woman is the musical equivalent of cotton candy. Light and fluffy, but damn it makes you feel good.
I wish this song had been released while I was writing Heartstealer. If I was making a fan-video of Charlotte and the Gloaming, I’d score it with this piece. It’s impossible to listen to it and not feel the urge to dance.
The one thing about listening to this group is that it does make me want to write more in the Heartstealer universe. Fortunately, I have a few other Celtic/Irish-flavoured projects in the pipeline…