Monday, December 31, 2007

Out With the Old

Hopefully, I am not stepping on Lisa's blogging toes. For heaven's sake, Lisa, if you are ready to post something after this goes up, please do so and accept my apologies!

I just packaged up my book and raced to the post office (which closed early!) Nevermind, in my head, this book is finally out of here and I am happy to see it go. I will toast it tonight, and wish it a safe journey, but meanwhile, starting tomorrow, it's on with the new, goodbye to the old.

How fitting, huh?

A few years ago, some friends had a really miserable year. Come to think of it, so did we. So on New Year's Eve, these friends came over and we all wrote the things that were troubling us on pieces of paper. Then we carefully, one at a time, put the papers into the fire and watched them go up in smoke.

I don't know why, exactly, but this little ritual worked and it's something my husband and I still do on occasion.

Now, since the things you stick on a piece of paper to destroy are sometimes very personal, I'm not asking you to write them down here on this blog (if you even happen to tiptoe --or stagger-- this way on New Years...) Remember, we're not talking about resolutions or things we want to strive for. We're talking about negative things that we want to let go. And the negative things that destroy writing opportunities are often seemingly unrelated to writing. Family trouble, health concerns, anger, disappointment, fear ... all of these things negatively impact creativity.

Try it, if not on a paper, then metaphorically, in your head. Write the words, fold the paper, hold it above the flame and drop it. Watch the paper blacken and curl, watch it catch fire. And let it go.

Happy New Years Everyone


Lori Barber said...

Alice, Thanks for sharing such good advice. Those negative things in our lives can sure do damage often not seen by the eye but worn inside the soul. They can rub holes in our armor and leave us struggling when those hard days press against us.

I too, have written them down and flung them into the fire. If you don't let them go they will continue to fester and grow.

We always spend New Years Eve with friends of 25 years. Who would have known that one day their oldest daughter (same age as our youngest son) and our said son would both be far away in different parts of Sweden.

Tonight we will share our hearts with friends who know the loneliness of a loved one far from home.

Happy New Year and Happy writing.

Barbara said...

Congratulations on finishing your book, Alice! What a great way to end the year. I'd love to get rid of whatever is keeping me from writing, but first I need to know what it is. Jim and I were talking about a panel discussion at a MWVRWA Fall Conference a couple of years ago in which a couple of panelists and several audience members said they had to get off anti-depressants in order to write. That is one thing that I'm not willing to get rid of. I've suffered from depression too many times in my life to take that chance. Surely there must be someone who can write even though they are comfortable and content. I'm willing to try again another year.

You strike me as being happy and content, Lori. What got you to write thousands of words this past November? Have you continued to write since? Did you write many different things or one ms? Whatever got you writing, I hope you'll continue in the New Year. And I hope I'll be joining you all soon. Happy New Year to you all!

Paty Jager said...

That is great advice Alice and Lori. I can't say as I have anything that really has dampened my spirits on my writing this past year. Yes, I grouse when I don't have writing time, but it is usually for a good cause- family or other writing endeavors.

I, too, wish everyone a wonderful New Year filled with writing experiences.

Alice Sharpe said...

Lori -- Oh, I can feel your loneliness for your son. I hope you and your friends have a wonderful evening filled with joy! And a new year filled with visits!

Alice Sharpe said...

Barbara, I have known people who have worked while taking anti depressants. I think your mental health is way more important than words on a paper, anyway, but frankly, when I get depressed, I mean really depressed, I stop writing. I'm dead in the water. Period. So that old thing about having to be miserable to write sounds foolish to me. If I were you, I would write that notion down on a piece of paper and feed it to the flame.

Alice Sharpe said...

Paty, Have the guests gone home yet? My hope is that the new year brings everyone many productive writing hours!

Alice Sharpe said...

BTW, Lori, that's such a cute picture...

Karen Duvall said...

Great blog, Alice! What a perfect time of year for it, too.

Rather than listing bad things and burning them up, I like to list good things that I want to happen. I believe the theory is, as I've heard it explained to me, "Write it down, Make it happen." It kind of follows the philosophy of The Secret, too, which is "The Law of Attraction." Put what you want out there to the universe and expect it to happen. I've been doing that and so far it's working for me.

New Years resolutions, on the other hand, are too rigid, IMO. Some things need more than a year to accomplish.

Depression sucks, Barbara. I've never been prone to it, but my husband is. Really bad, too. He took Zoloft for a while, but went off of it about five years ago. He's just a really sensitive guy and things get to him easily. As an example, Dan Foglberg died just before Christmas and Jim is a huge fan. Just talking about musician makes him cry. My husband is just a naturally sad person. I think we balance each other out because I'm the positive one. 8^)

I'm so close to the end of my book, which was my goal for 2007, that I'll go ahead and call it done. I have something like 25 pages to go, but it feels finished in my mind. It's just the mechanics at this point of getting in from my brain to the page.

Happy New Year, everyone! And may all the unpublished, and the unhappily published, be successfully published in 2008!

Paty Jager said...

Barbara, your comment wasn't posted before I wrote mine. I hope you find what cracks open your creativeness and word flow. Your story sounds so interesting.

Alice, the company isn't leaving until Wednesday. I may still be sane by then! LOL

Karen, That's great your book is almost finished. And I like your list of good things.

Genene said...

Hey, Alice! Finishing a book is a fantastic way to wrap up the year. CONGRATULATIONS! Congrats to you also, Karen, on almost writing "the end!"

It's nice to hear the rituals others use to mark the passages of their lives. Lori by getting together with old friends, Alice by burning troubles, Karen by writing down what you want to accomplish.

Releasing negative things has been very beneficial for me. But rather than wait until the end of the year, I try to do it immediately when something negative happens. Sometimes I have to do it more than once -- guess I'm kinda stubborn sometimes. :)

I also like to write down the things I want to accomplish. I usually do this sometime around Christmas or New Year's (my giftolutions), but will do a fresh list in the fall or any other time I need a kick in the fanny.

Mostly I like to snuggle in at home on holidays with my doggies. No traffic hassles, no relatives to be nice to [grin] -- just productive time!

Hope you all have a safe, productive and enjoyable New Year!

Karen Duvall said...

I did an "end of the year" blog on my personal blog today. Just a list of good things from the year, things I learned, and trivial facts that stayed with me. If you'd like to see my list, got to

Danita Cahill said...

Great idea, Alice. It's kind of like writing a letter to someone who has caused you pain. Whether you mail it or not, just the act of getting the words on paper is healing. I've written several letters I've never mailed. Burning them would be like taking it one step further.