Wednesday, January 05, 2011

the word of the year is...

Irene Latham, author of the lovely middle-grade historical Leaving Gee's Bend, posted this week about choosing a single word to help guide you through the year. A one-word resolution, if you will. Irene, ever the poet, selected "deeper" as her word. Isn't that a wonderful word? And if I weren't so authorly-opposed to plagiarism, I might've just adopted that one, too. ;)

Irene's idea to choose just one word really made me think. I've always been a huge fan of New Year's Resolutions - I do them every year, and I did them again this year. But to have one word that is your, well, crutch for an entire 12 months is appealing. There are far too many opportunistic moments that tiptoe by, and noticing them by thinking, "Oh, wow! That relates to Resolution #14-b" just seems unrealistic. (For the record, NO, I don't number my resolutions this way. As far as you know.)

So let me start by sharing some of the words that were *almost* The Word, and the reasons why I ulmately passed on each:

-"Content." It was the first word that came to mind when I started really thinking about this, and it's a perfectly lovely word. It's also something I do need to work on - being content, realizing how very blessed I truly am. But ultimately I passed on "content," not because I don't wish to count my blessings, but because I felt it carried an undertone of being stagnant. Learning and improving myself are very important to me. So "content" was shelved.

-"Brave." I thought of this one, originally, in the writing sense. I'm in the middle of crafting a fantasy novel right now - my first. I'm learning to try new things and take chances, and honestly, it's scary. But I passed on "brave," too, because it felt like it might correlate with "stubborn" once I considered...

-"Open." This one was really, really close, folks. I love everything about "open" - how, by its very nature, it means that new things have entered the picture. Things that need opening. Unlocking. It applies to spirituality, to family and parenting, to writing. And it, I believe, encompasses "brave." After all, you have to be brave to truly open yourself, no? So why did I pass on it? It feels passive to me, like that old portrait of a writer smoking a pipe and waiting for his muse to visit. Like waiting. Those of you who know me well know that "passive" just ain't me.

So ultimately, the word I went with is... (drumroll please)...

-"Present!" As in, to be present, in everything I do. One of my worst habits is rushingrushingrushing ahead, overcommitting, thinking of next hour, next week, next month, next story, nextnextnext. "Present" is the anti-next. It, too, applies to the most important aspects of my life: family, spirituality, writing. It's active, and it has such wonderful *other* connotations; who doesn't love presents?! To be fully present in one's writing, to be fully immersed in the story, in the character, in the NEED - that's what we're striving for as writers, isn't it? The immediate nature of this word, of how it roots you firmly in the now but still allows you to grow, is why "present" is my word of 2011.

So how about you? Have you ever selected one word as a guidepost? If not, give it a try! And if you have or do select one word, please, share! I'd love to hear what is guiding you and your art!

1 comment:

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

Wonderful post! What a great idea. Wishing you many moments of "present-ness" ;-)