Sunday, December 27, 2015

Craft in 2016

Since 2013, I've been choosing a word for each year and making resolutions that align with that theme. I will freely admit this is a corny tradition, but it's been really helpful in my goal to live a more intentional life, so I'm owning it. As 2016 is swiftly approaching, I spent some time over the holidays thinking about how I want the coming year to look and feel, and I've finally settled on a word to guide me. 

Craft, noun: An activity involving skill in making things by hand. 
Craft, noun: A boat or ship. 
Craft, verb: To exercise skill in making something. 

For those of you keeping track at home, this exercise has revealed a trend - each year, the word I choose builds on the previous year. First, I wanted to be Present in my own life, to focus on and appreciate each moment as I lived it. Then, I wanted to embrace Risk in my writing, my career, and my life. Last year, I chose to Dig, putting down roots in Wilmington, pursuing friendships, and finding stability. It makes sense (to me, at least) that now is the time to Craft, to take advantage of this foundation and keep building on it. 

What exactly will this look like? I'm glad you asked.
  • I'm working on a new novel, and I'm about 2/3 of the way through a first draft. In 2016, I want to finish this draft and let it sit for a bit. Then I want to revise it like crazy, which is the best part of writing (I plan to do this during my two-week residency in April at the Vermont Studio Center - I won a fellowship!) Then I will send it to a few trusted readers, get their brilliant feedback, and revise again, and again, and again. That should keep me pretty busy. (Crazy big goal: sell the novel and finally get the book deal that eluded me in 2015.)

  • Of course, one writing project isn't enough, mostly because I've spent the last few years working on a short story collection, and it's also about 2/3 done. While New Novel is out of my hands - resting, or being read - I will get back to short stories, which includes writing, revising, and, of course, submitting. I only published one story in 2015 and I would like to at least double that in 2016. (Crazy big goal: win a contest.) 

  • In 2015, I won a fellowship to Aspen Summer Words. In 2016, I'm headed to the Vermont Studio Center. I'd like to keep this streak going, so I'll be applying to a 2017 fellowship at some point during the next year. As a person who has to work full time yet was spoiled by her MFA, these fellowships are vital when it comes to connecting with other creative people, focusing on my craft, and reinvigorating my spirit. (Crazy big goal: Hedgebrook. I came close this year and I won't give up until I get my spot.) 

  • To switch gears a bit, I'd also like to get back to crafting in ways that are related less to the page and more to the plate. There was a time in my life when I loved to spend time in the kitchen, trying new recipes and even inventing some of my own. In 2016, I want to make good, healthy, delicious food a priority once again, including a return to baking bread and brewing beer. Considering how much I love to eat, motivating myself to accomplish this goal shouldn't be too difficult. (Crazy big goal: learn how to make one awesome cocktail as my signature drink.)

  • My last intention is also the vaguest. In 2016 I want to focus more on crafting when it comes to the things I buy, want, and give. Whether that means purchasing handcrafted goods from local artists, baking cookies for friends, putting together a gift basket, or actually using my sewing machine will depend on the desire, occasion, and person. This goal is inspired by my friend Kat, who is awesome at crafting. Watching her make thoughtful, beautiful things (not to mention receiving some of them!) reminded me of the joy I used to get from making. In 2016, this crafty renegade will rise again! (Crazy big goal: handmade holidays.) 

I have other goals, but they aren't so much resolutions as habits I want to maintain (read another 35 books, set a new half marathon PR, yoga-yoga-yoga, drink more water, spend less time looking at my iPhone, blog once a week, be a compassionate human being, good friend, and giving partner, etc). Overall I'm looking forward to the New Year. 2015 was tough but it's ending on a good note. I'm entering 2016 full of hope and gratitude, and that's an excellent place to start.

Your turn: how did 2015 treat you? Do you have goals or resolutions for the New Year? If you had to sum up your hopes and dreams for 2016 in one word, what would it be?