Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Caterpillar and the Butterfly

It's that odd, magical time of the year when this writer undergoes a sort of reverse chrysalis.  For years now, as the end of December approaches and the First of January looms, I've imagined myself transforming from a very tired, old butterfly exhausted from the demands of twelve months of constant creativity back to a young caterpillar, excited by the prospect of all the adventures that await. Today is the first day of the new year, January 1, 2015.  Last night, our wonderful writers' group here in the frigid North Country enjoyed our second annual New Year's Eve soiree, complete with a sit-down dinner and reading (the theme was 'Homicidal Holiday' -- I shared the opening to my culinary-themed murder mystery, 'Slice and Dice'.). It was more fun, the food even more delicious, than anticipated.  It also ran late into the evening and past the stroke of midnight, which left this old butterfly feeling very old by the time his head hit the pillow. Wonderful guests who overnighted with us, friends from this writers' group and ones from my group to the south, departed after a big breakfast, and I moseyed into my Writing Room to start the first of 2015's adventures.  Exhausted yes, but then I put the nib of my fountain pen to paper, and realized I was the caterpillar again, feeling captivated as I belted out fresh pages and the first of this new year's thousand words.

(paper, designer folders, envelopes, and other office supplies
evicted from storage in one of my file cabinet drawers)
Over the previous days as the old year counted down, I gave the Writing Room a polish, organized, and pondered my plans for 2015. Part of that effort involved doing my end-of-year paperwork, when I print up fresh, updated copies of my 'As-Yet Unwritten' and 'Completed Works' lists, update my big 'Manifest' notebook with newest titles and ideas, and make sure every fresh story idea gets jotted on a note card for filing in my catalog. Another huge undertaking was to shift the order of my archives of first-draft manuscripts -- 1089 completed short stories, novellas, scripts, and novels as of this writing; enough that my life's work has filled one of my two lateral-drawer filing cabinets to capacity. The second, which contains works-in-progress, notebooks, writing journals, and the business files of my career, provided much-needed room to grow.  While reorganizing that w-i-p drawer, I did a headcount -- 80 projects started, stalled, and stored for future completion.  One of my main 2015 goals is to knock that number down considerably.  There are 80 started from a list of unwritten ideas that total 142.

Even so, 2015 was a productive year for my muse and me.  I wrote 55 stories, short and long, to completion, along with a novel and two screenplays -- one of which, Brutal Colors, is presently in post-production and nearing a release date within the first half of the year.  My word count, all tallied, was 266,650 according to my records, with another 60,000 on some of those infamous works-in-progress, which howl at me in the night for their THE ENDs.

(our neighbor's pumpkin patch -- and what I saw staring in at me through the
living room windows in November 2014, recorded for future inspiration)
And so this young caterpillar, who will turn 50 in May, uncapped one of his Shaeffer fountain pens, a relic from his teen years, and began work on the oldest of his unwritten story ideas, deciding this year to start at the very top of the heap.  As part of my commitment to living a literary life in 2015, my goal is to hack that list of unwritten ideas down by half, and to fill up all that free space in the filing cabinets with first drafts. Some will be written for regular editors, others with thoughts of submitting to calls that come up, yet more simply for my enjoyment and no one else's.  I want this to be a banner year. Given the numerous releases I have upcoming just in the month of January alone, 2015 seems geared toward a fantastic start.  Another thousand words went down on that very old story idea, written with a very old fountain pen before I shifted gears to write this post.  And they left me feeling supremely young again.  Such is the power of dreams and writing.

1 comment:

  1. What a great start to the new year, Maestro! You continue to inspire and amaze me. I, too, am hitting the half century mark in May, fellow Taurus. Blessings on your next 50 years, dear one.