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Sunday, January 5, 2014

50 (or so) Shades of New

By Ellie James
The day after Christmas, I sat down with pencil and paper and all these words started pouring out of me. Quickly I realized I had the guts of a blog, including an awesome title: New Year's Confession. I still like that title--a LOT. Just think what a great novel that could be...!
But then I saw a segment on The Today Show about, instead of setting traditional New Year's goals, (such as the standards lose weight, exercise more, read more, stop saying Amazing!, etc.,) choosing a word instead. One word. That was the challenge. Choose one word you'd like to define the coming year...that you'd like to define you. And commit to that word.
Immediately I was intrigued. I started brainstorming words and came up with some terrific ones (patience, explore, create, present), but every time I tried to latch onto one of those really wonderful and inspiring words, another word whispered through me.
And that's where my New Year's Confession comes in, all those words that poured out of me the day after Christmas. I love writing and I always have, way back as long as I can remember. But, professionally, this past year has been hard.  I started 2013 feeling down and I spent the majority of the year in that same place. Being a professional writer is a dream come true, but there's so much more involved than simply giving voice to the stories living in your heart. There's the business side--the dollars and the cents, the contracts and competition, the marketing and promotion--and this past year, that's what knocked me down. Knocked me down hard. And since then, the shadow of disappointment has followed me everywhere.
For a while, I couldn't write. Worse, merely the thought of writing made me sick to my stomach--and my heart. Especially my heart. I'd get that awful tight chest feeling. I felt so lost and alone. And the words wouldn't come. I tried. I tried everything I could think of. But nothing worked. I told myself to stop being a baby and put my big girl panties on. I ordered myself to. But everywhere I looked were reminders of my disappointment.
Days...weeks...months. They rolled by, rolled together. There were times when things got better, when I focused on--made myself look to--the future. What came next instead of what was already done. But it seems something always crept in to throw me back to that deep, dark, cold pit of sadness.
Over the past several days, I've asked myself if I really want to share all this. If I'm seriously going to post something so personal. Generally I don't shout out my good or carry on about my bad. But you know what?  We live in such a photoshopped world. We live a life of greatest hits. Our messages are carefully crafted to be all Wonderful! and Amazing! But the truth is we all have B-sides. We all have junk. We all have stuff. And unless we can be real about the B-sides, in many ways we're doing everyone a disservice, setting up this false equation where people inadvertently find themselves comparing the raw, unvarnished truth of their own lives to Glistening Public Images of everyone else's. So I've decided to be real about this. To be authentic. To talk about a B-side, no matter how uncomfortable it is.
Now here I stand, at the threshold of a new year, and I'm committing myself to turning the corner, too, to leaving the "blue" where it belongs--in the past. I'm committing myself to 50 incredible shades of new: a new year, a new perspective, a new me, a new beginning. (Okay, that's only four, but one new leads to another, right?)  
Right here, right now, I'm committing myself to....
Joy1-2012-06What word will define YOUR year?


  1. Your blog was very interesting. I think that everyone has had the same experience at some time in their lives - especially creative people! I have not figured out my one word yet, but will work on it today! Thank you for sharing! And wishing you much success in 2014.

  2. December was a grueling month for me and my writing, but I've picked myself up and got right back on that horse. It's important to know that none of us are alone. We have friends in the writing community who understand exactly the way we feel and are willing to help us through it.

  3. Ellie, it's as if you climbed inside my skin (you could fit easily) and pulled out my feelings for the past year. You are such a stellar writer and lovely person that knowing you have a B-side somehow alleviates mine. Trouble shared is trouble halved. Joy is the perfect word for 2014!

  4. Ellie, I'm glad you are striving for your joy. I would say my word for 2014 is New. I would like our place sold so we can move to the new one. I'd like my new adventure in audio books to work out. I'd like another New project I'm working on to pan out. And I'm working on a new perspective of seeing myself and my writing. So my word is New!

    Keep us posted on all the Joy you find this year.

  5. Ellie, I congratulate you for writing such a heartfelt article, because you nailed me, too. My word is Denial. Denial is my friend when it comes to writing--if I can deny all the chaos and outside pressures, maybe the writing will happen a little easier.

  6. What a wonderful post, Ellie. And I totally hear you. Joy will be reclaimed in your own way. In our own way. The pressures on authors is staggering. No wonder we sag, and at times, crumble. Panic and bolt. I had the worse writer's block of my life this fall until I finally really listened to the characters and then the story took off. I just sent it to my historical editor. Find your way in your own way and time. We all struggle. We just don't all admit it. Blessings on you.

  7. Speaking of words, I went to high school with four sisters named Hope, Faith, Charity, and Love. All excellent choices too.


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