Another year is almost over. And we, as humans, ascribe a lot of power to this strange quirk of time measurement. We take this time to tally wins, losses, goals, failures…and somehow try to package it so we can make sense of our lives.
Therefore, with approximately two weeks left in 2018, I’m going to try to wrap up what this year meant to me.
The best thing
The best thing for me this year was, hands-down, writing, creating, and putting on my play, SPIES!, at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. I’ve been in love with immersive theater ever since the first show I attended (Sleep No More), and while attending my second show (Speakeasy Dollhouse) I vowed to myself that I would write and put on my own piece. And I did it! It took many years to get there, but it was everything I wanted and more.
I built a chat bot! I pulled together a great production team! We had the best best BEST actors, who inspired me daily with their intelligent, nuanced performance of characters who could have come across as simplified punchlines in less-skilled hands. The show SOLD OUT before we even opened, and I have a waiting list of people who want to attend when the show gets remounted.
(L to R) The Chat bot (early draft). The Wife and The Journalist. The whole cast.
The process of bringing a project from humble beginnings (the first scene I wrote for it got thrown out early in the writing process but ended up coming back for the performance!), all the way through to closing night … only those who have similarly seen the fleshed-out results of years of work can fully understand. There are highs and lows, and it’s the lows that are the biggest threats. During any one of those low moments, you can choose to throw in the towel and believe the little voice in your head that says “You can’t do this! It’s impossible!” But if you choose to power through, then you can reach those amazing moments: Seeing actors perfectly deliver a joke to raucous laughter. Watching audience members gleefully whisper to each other as they work out the secrets of the show. Taking a final bow along with your amazing team.
2. the most challenging thing (… much harder to write about)
In 2018, one of my biggest challenges has been continuing to work on my novel writing. My former literary agent quit the business at the beginning of 2018. The manuscript I had been working on for nearly a decade had not sold, and ended up dead in the water. That was tough for me. I believed in that book with all of my heart (like so many other authors who don’t sell), but the publishing industry didn’t agree.
I’ve returned to another manuscript that I also loved, that had been languishing, half-finished, for years. Thanks to some awesome CPs, I’ve made several big changes. Also, reading a new-to-me craft book really helped me to get things organized. And NaNoWriMo gave me the oomph needed to power through rearranging and rewriting most of the middle of the book. I’ve still got the final quarter to finish, but I am close. I hope to be querying this sucker in the spring.
It’s always hard to feel like you were at a certain “milestone” and then have to go back to square one. That happened with me and novel writing. But I also know that I am not willing to give up on this. So here we go. Back to work.
3. The things that matter most
It’s very easy for me to focus only on “accomplishments” in the external sense. But the things that matter most are the people who have flowed in and out of my life over this year and who have left their mark on me.
The moments-between-moments. The successes and milestones of my friends and family … Weddings! Books published! Babies! And the break-ups. Job losses. Deaths. Because I am not an island, these moments that technically belong to other people ripple and affect me, too. Because as we become connected to other people, we draw lines between our hearts, and these connective cords ebb and flow in tightness and urgency. Some cords have strengthened over this year. Some have weakened. Some have turned from thread to fire-forged chain — unbreakable. These connections, in turn, give me strength to face the changes and challenges the new year will bring.
Finally: Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
All of these things threaten to whittle down to “Seasons of Love” from RENT (“How do you measure, measure a year? … Measure in love”), but maybe that’s okay. Because no matter the milestones reached or missed, with two weeks left in December, there would be no point to any of it if I did not have the many hearts that support my own connected to me.
And regardless of the little frustrations of being busy at this time of year, and wondering where the time went… the real “wins” of the year won’t end up on a best-of list. Instead, they are written in those moments-between-moments, as invaluable memories on each other’s hearts.
See you next year…