The above is a compilation of the most common words I used while blogging in 2011. I went through my 2011 and selected at least one favorite post from each month (I admit, pickings were slim toward the end of the year!) and pasted it into the Wordle gizmo and it created the lovely word cloud you see above. The more you use a word, the large it is in your word cloud. No surprise that "writing" dominates, but everything else makes sense as well. I do enjoy the fact that "rabbits" and "train" made the cut. And that "get" appears over both "life" and "love". I am a little concerned that "decades" appears right under "novel". . . this is either an omen that it will take me decades to get my novel finished, or perhaps that I will spend the next few decades writing novels. I am going to be optimistic and go with the second one.
My 2011, blogging aside, was full of ups and downs, as I am sure most everyone's was.
Professionally, I left a job after five years of restlessness and dissatisfaction in order to pursue writing and teaching. I have settled into a teaching job I love and am lucky enough to be able to privately tutor some really great students of all ages. Additionally, I have been able to take on editing duties at Chicago Quarterly Review, which has been a great experience so far. Financially, this year has had more downs than ups because of my decision to leave my secure, full-time job, but I am happier professionally than I have ever been, so I have no regrets in that department.
Personally, there were many ups for me this year. I celebrated two years of schmoopy bliss with the love of my life, and am eagerly looking forward to many more years with him. A very good friend of ours moved back to Chicago after two terrible years away, and it has been lovely having him back where he belongs. Chicago has been good to him since his return, and he's definitely sticking around. Our circle of friends has grown in 2011, and I am looking forward to another year with more gaming and shenanigans.
Of course, I cannot think of 2011 without thinking of my brother who passed away unexpectedly in August. I am still grieving and imagine I will for a long time. But through the low points we learn better to appreciate the good people and things in our lives. Through this tragedy, I feel that I have come to be closer to my brother's children and my mother, and I am grateful that I am able to work through the low points with writing.
Writing wise, 2011 was a good year for me. My writing log tells me I completed almost 90 short stories, flash fiction, and novel chapters this year. Of course I also finished the first draft of a novel I started back in 2006, which was a huge milestone for me. In November alone, I wrote 30 short shorts. While I didn't publish much in 2011, I was more focused on generating new work than I have been in the past. It is all about the balance. I am guessing that much of early 2012 will be dedicated to revising all that new work, and hopefully I'll see more of my work in print in the New Year.
I'm not really much for new year's resolutions. I will just continue down the path I started in 2011 and see where it leads me. I know as long as I stay focused on writing, I will not take a wrong turn.
I hope your 2011 was full of blessings and that 2012 is even better to you. Stay strong, keeping writing and whatever you do, please be safe out there tonight!
One of the new flash fictions I wrote last month during my attempt at writing as much flash as possible in 30 days has been accepted and published in the latest issue of The Molotov Cocktail. My story My Family Tree is Rotten But Keeps Bearing Fruit came out of the online Dzanc workshop I took with Meg Pokrass and I am ever so grateful for the awesome prompts she provided us (and is still providing us because she is just that awesome).
The above photo is not the current state of things around here. It is from 2009. But, it represents the frame of mind I am this morning. I am ready to embrace winter and welcome it back. I just ate cold takeout for breakfast and chased it with a Frango mint Santa. Awwwww, it must be December! The time of year when things like healthy eating and free time go out the window. (Though I will defend myself and note that I am in my workout gear and planning to go catch a bus to work out as soon as I finish blogging. So maybe all the the Frango Santas I've been consuming since Thanksgiving won't do too much damage.) At any rate, as hectic as December is, it is absolutely one of my favorite times of year. I love the holidays, the snow and winter, and this year is especially nice because it is the first holiday season where I have able to focus my "work" time doing what I love: teaching and writing. But more about that in another post. Today I just wanted to check in and let you all know how my November went.
Back at the beginning of November, I set a goal for myself to write at least two flash fiction pieces a day for the entire month, if you recall. Like every other November I have set a goal, I failed to meet it. But I did write 30 new pieces, most of which fell under 500 words each. I wrote many pieces outside my comfort zone and felt that November was a great time of growth for me as a writer. Out of those 30 pieces, I am quite proud of probably at least half of them. Out of the other half, I feel most have some potential to be good after some re-writes. One of my new pieces has already been accepted for publication, but as it is not due to appear until sometime in 2012, I won't give you the details on all that yet.
Also, if you read my last post, you know that I recently took on some editing responsibilities at Chicago Quarterly Review. In other exciting news, I got my GRE scores back and scored well in the Verbal and Writing sections, much to my relief. We're not really dwelling on quantitative right now, but I will mention that I scored better there than I ever have in the past. I am currently in the process of applying for PhD programs, which is one of the reasons I've been so quiet here and other places you may normally find me on the internet. Overall, I would call November a smashing success and December promises to follow suit.
I know many of you were busy writing novels in November, which I envy. How did that go? Would you consider your November a smashing success as well? Even if you didn't meet your goal, I hope last month was a good one for you. Tell me how it went in comments below.
Now that we are all caught up, I will make the bold promise of returning to writing related blog posts in the very near future. In the meantime, happy holidays, and of course, happy writing!
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