by Jeanette O'Hagan
January is traditionally a time for looking back at how last year went and what we would like to achieve in the new year.
As writers, goals are important. Without them, we can flounder about aimlessly achieving little. As the saying goes, if you aim at nothing you will probably achieve it.
There are writing goals I would like to achieve for 2022 - new books written and published, new readers, a sustainable career. Yet, to be honest. I have been chasing these goals for ten years and I am weary.
It's not that I haven't achieved many of them. In fact, I feel blessed to have seven books and a collection of stories published already, to have poems and short stories published in over twenty anthologies, to have a small (very small) group of enthusiastic readers. It's been a blast selling books at book fairs and Cons (like Supanova and OzComic Con), to read the occasional glowing review or sell the occasional book online. I've also enjoyed being part of running the Omega Writers Book Fair (since 2016), and coordinating the admin team for Christian Writers Downunder (since Jan 2016). The sustainable career ... well, not so much, yet - and maybe never.
But, like for most of us, the last two years have been like a wrecking ball - with the constant changing situation and uncertainty and no let up. Plus there have been personal and family challenges - the death of my much loved father four years ago, medical emergencies for my mum, plus transitioning her into an care home in middle of lockdown in 2020, parenting challenges I never expected and the loss of long-term friendship. I'm sure we can all relate because life is full of such challenges. I'm a glass-half-full kind of gal, always looking for the positives and believing things will get better, but I am weary.
Goals are important, but so are priorities. Knowing what is important, where one should invest one's time and energy. We can't be everything to everyone. Doing so can stretch us too thin. For me, this January, I'm holding my goals lightly and I'm planning on spending time in God's presence searching for the bigger picture of what He wants to achieve in me, where my focus needs to be.
While a natural optimist, there are times when I feel the weight of so many people's expectations or disappointments in me, a flawed, fragile human being. I feel stretched thin. I feel a failure - the secret pessimist overriding the optimist and, with her seductive voice, finding all the brokenness in my life. (Okay, so I might be melancholic in temperament.) And I can tell you, the last couple of months, shattered relationships and lost energy have given me cause to listen to that dark, seductive voice that whispers, failure, failure, failure in the early hours of the morning. This season, when things seem to be falling apart one by one, I'm left wondering what remains. And I am weary.
Recently, as part of Month of Poetry (something I do with a group of wonderful, talented poets each year), we were given the challenge of writing a poem with two-word lines on becoming. This was my effort:Becoming
no longer worm
|moth, beetle or butterfly|
Writing that poem, I am reminded that each ending is a new beginning. That sometimes, when God takes us through a process of deconstruction, it's because He is building something new, something beautiful to make of our lives and the lives of others. That I don't have to be perfect or even good enough, for He accepts us as we are, broken, fragile and failing. That the burden doesn't rest on me alone, for He carries our burdens with us. That my role is to trust (though I think He might need to help me with that).
Trust - Priorities - Goals
And whatever 2022 brings - I know I am in His hands.
What about you? Where are you on that journey?
Her Nardvan stories span continents, millennia and cultures. Some involve shapeshifters and magic. Others include space stations and cyborgs.
She has published over forty stories and poems, including the Under the Mountain Series (5 books), Ruhanna's Flight and Other Stories, Akrad's Children and Rasel's Song, the first two books in the Akrad's Legacy series.