It’s the end of the year and who can count how many hours we’ve sat at our desks waiting for words while the minutes passed by and our lives slipped off in directions that we could never have predicted?
Who can count the number of words or sentences or stanzas that we’ve written or the journal pages onto which we’ve poured our hearts?
Each year December comes like this, dark and dreary, with freezing rain and sleeting snow and a sense of doubt and hopelessness—and yes, with regrets, too—and then the sun makes its turn, and days begin to lengthen again as the earth sails into a new year.
And just as surely as the return of the sun and the dispersal of darkness, our words come, too—if we believe in the process and in ourselves—shyly, at first, perhaps, but they come again with a fresh urgency and need, seeping up out of the thawing ground, pouring forth like a melting stream onto a new page.
If we can hold onto our belief through the darkness and doldrums and frigid days of silence, if we can trust in this mysterious process to bring us what we need when we need it, if we can keep sitting at our desks and doing our work, waiting however long we might need to wait, then we can say we have written without regrets.
We’ve done our best.
And that is all anyone can ask.
It doesn’t matter whether we write fiction or poetry, memoirs or investigative journalism, short stories or novels, journal entries, notes on scraps of paper, forgotten thoughts in the margins of books that we've loved over the past year.
What matters is that we are still writing, still using pen and paper to explore the world and our life, still curious about what we might be thinking and eager to find out (thanks to the words that we put on paper) what thoughts are swirling through our heads, what emotions are hiding in our hearts.
It takes a stubborn determination and unrelenting perseverance to write.
Some writers may give up after only a few minutes of facing a blank page, the critical voices in our heads growing louder and louder until the voices become unbearable and we can’t stand to hear them anymore and have to push away from the desk and shout “Enough!”
But other writers may just glare at the blank page and say, “Really? You think you can scare me? You think you can win?” And we stand up and go into the kitchen and brew a fresh pot of coffee, or steal a cookie from the cookie jar, and return to our desks and wait for the words to come.
And we wait for as long as we need to wait believing that patience is stronger than impatience and that words are stronger than silence.
Thanks to all for stopping by Wordswimmer this past year. Your presence in the water has helped keep me afloat more than you can know. May the the year ahead bring you a sweet-flowing river of words and stories.