The Year That Was: Reflecting on 2014 and Looking Ahead to 2015 by Brad Windhauser
When I was a kid, the approach of Christmas made me giddy: the decorated tree, my aunt’s delicious cookies, the large presents, and the time off school. When I was in college, the holiday season meant more customers (and tips) at the restaurant where I waited tables. When I began teaching, Christmas break meant unplugging, relaxing, enjoying a glass or three of wine. When I became more serious about writing, the holidays offered more free time to write.
Since we started 5Writers almost three years ago, this time of year encourages me to take stock of the year on its way out and also gear up for the one ahead.
The past few years I challenged myself to make more time for reading. Thanks to Goodreads—Virgos love apps that organize your projects—I am more motivated to keep track of books I want to read and ones I’ve read. It’s also inspired me to tackle a book a week. This year I read 55, and Goodreads makes it easy to keep notes of what I liked (or disliked) about each one. This compels me to process the content in a way that is useful to my on-going writing education. If you don’t use Goodreads—or commit yourself to a lot of reading in any given year—now might be a good time to start.
Beginning in January of 2013, I challenged myself to also write more, and this past year I continued to do just that.
In 2014, I put the finishing touches on my second novel—and although I have been rather frustrated by the process, I have continued to search for a home in the publishing world for it. That doesn’t mean that’s all I’ve had cooking—I have also almost completed the second draft of my third novel. I also managed to get a short story accepted for publication (it’s forthcoming next near in Jonathan) and have sketched out four new short stories. I like to have multiple projects brewing, and at different stages. Starting from scratch can be a bit daunting for my creative mind, so being able to resume work on a story—even if what I have is only a kernel of an idea—ensures that I keep moving forward.
I have also continued to build my Bible Project Blog. In January 2013 I began reading the Bible. Unfortunately, this ancient text is mis-used to justify anti-gay bigotry, and as a gay man, I needed to know what it really says. Although I finished the Bible last year, in 2014, I continued to read books related to the Bible or ones that provided some context for it. What I found continues to intrigue me as I process this important work. I’ve also wrestled with whether or not this would make a good book on its own.
In 2015, I hope to finally sell my second novel (and maybe my third), crank out new short stories, and add more content to my Bible Blog. I’ve had a few friends question how I fit all of this in. It takes a lot of discipline, a good, tight schedule, an understanding partner, I tell them. I also believe that all this work is making me a better writer. If at least part of your time isn’t contributing to your writing life in a meaningful way, you should consider how you can change this.
Happy New Year, 5Writers readers.