2014: Personal Reflections

2014 went by way too fast. Time to recap some of the highlights! This year I…

Revived this blog. I don’t know what exactly I was expecting when I went and resurrected this account…but it has become such an important tool for me. In my darkest hours, when I’m frustrated and furious with my writing, I come back and reread the good posts. The ones I wrote, exhilarated, after solving a huge structural problem or flying through a rewrite. They remind me that at some point I’ll ride the wave back up, that the agony pushes me to make my work better, that I need the lows just as much as the highs. So I’m glad to have this reminder here, and I’m grateful to all you beautiful people who read this.

Moved to Brooklyn / became a first-time homeowner. It took so much dreaming and so much work, but the husband and I were able to purchase a lovely apartment this summer. It’s so crazy to walk around and think: I own this. To paint the walls whatever colors we want and not worry about whether our rent is bumping up again. Plus we are so in love with our new neighborhood.

Published a short story I first drafted 5 years ago. I rarely do short stories anymore. These days I give all of my writing energy over to my novels. But at the poking and prodding of some very good friends I ended up reworking a story I originally drafted for an undergraduate workshop. The full recounting of the writing/editing process is in this blog entry here. And you can read the short story at Joyland Magazine.

Celebrated my 2-year anniversary at Penguin. I’ve said this several times before, but I am so incredibly fortunate to have this job that I love so much. I have the greatest boss and the most wonderful coworkers. I take so much pride in my work. When I first accepted this position I thought it would just be a day job to support my writing endeavors; I never realized it would provide such sustenance in the form of inspiration and energy.

Got married! Okay so obviously this is a big one. I tied the knot with my best friend and love of my life in the city we’ve called home for the last 6+ years. We decided against a traditional wedding and had an intimate City Hall ceremony with just our immediate families — it was absolutely perfect. Then the next day we partied with all our friends. We couldn’t have had a better celebration.

Went to Alaska for our honeymoon! Literally the day after celebrating our marriage we flew out to Alaska! It was unreal. I got to cross some things off my bucket list, like sailing / hiking out to see (and touch!) glaciers, and watching orca + humpback whales out in the wild. I’m so glad we managed to fit that awesome trip into this over-packed year.

Hit Bodega Magazine‘s second anniversary. I say this every time but I really do work with the most amazing team of people to keep this magazine running. When we went to AWP earlier this year it was thrilling to have so many people come up to our table and go, “I love Bodega! I read every issue you put out!” Our readers are the greatest. Also, we are actually a nonprofit! So if you’d like to support us with a tax-deductible donation you can do that here. It would be a lovely holiday gift to us.

Continued my dedicated Ashtanga yoga practice. I can’t believe I’m coming up on two years since I began this practice. It’s been an incredible journey. If, a few years ago, you had described to me the things I’m doing with my limbs and muscles these days, I would’ve laughed in your face. My body and life have both completely changed. Ashtanga has taught me patience and discipline, and that’s been hugely important for my writing and other pursuits. This year I also began studying a bit of Sanskrit — I want to get deeper into the history and philosophy of yoga. My practice has become one of the most important things I do for myself.

Finished the sixth (and started the seventh) draft of an urban fantasy novel I began in mid-2013. This is the project I’ve been calling “WRBTD” in past entries. I did a TON of work on this story in the last several months. There’s still more to be done, but I’m very proud of how much I’ve grown and improved in my revision process. I’m currently on a break from this project — stepping away from the vehicle and getting some distance so I can come back with fresh eyes for another couple of drafts.

Found a new voice and new story for a novel I began in late 2010. This is the project I’ve referred to as either “USLS” or “my China novel” and I first drafted it during my first year of my MFA. Earlier this year — for Camp NaNoWriMo in April, actually — I overhauled a big chunk of it with a new voice and an altered premise, weaving in some magical realism / fantasy elements. In October I had the inspiration for a new outline that preserved that new voice and premise but told the story differently. This is what I’m working on now, and I’m hoping to finish it in 2015.

Went downhill skiing for the first time! This just happened a few days ago. I’d always been intrigued by the idea of skiing but never tried it because I had a lot of fear: That I might fall and break something. That I would be paralyzed once I was out on the slopes (I was that child who couldn’t go down slides). That I couldn’t handle the chairlift (I am also that person with the ferris wheel / roller coaster phobia + hatred of heights + dislike of swings). But we went out to where my husband used to ski growing up and it seemed a waste not to at least try. To everyone’s shock, I loved it. I only fell once, when I intentionally crashed into a snowbank because the speed was scaring me. It actually felt pretty intuitive, and my father-in-law made the point that I probably did well because yoga has taught me to know where my body is and where I carry my weight. Makes sense — another reason to be grateful for my Ashtanga practice.

There are almost definitely things that I’m forgetting to include on this list. Well, that’s okay. So much good stuff happened this year. I am the luckiest.

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