Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011--The Year Everything Changed

For me, at least.  2011 was a year of flux, of upheaval, more internal than external.  It was a breaking point of sorts--I realized life is too short to live it any other way than how we want to.

Sounds irresponsible, doesn't it?  You imagine me (or you) vegging out on the couch, stuffing ourselves with greasy chips and creamy dips (I crave salty, not sweet, but feel free to substitute the chips for--oh, I don't know, chocolate truffles?), binging on reality TV and bad Lifetime movies (that's probably an oxymoron, isn't it?).  And that's not what I mean at all.
Maybe that's what you dream of doing with your spare time--God knows I did, during the years when I worked in the financial industry, and those twelve-hour days left me exhausted, no energy at all for the weekends, except to stuff myself with chips and dip.

But that's no life, and that's one of the things I sought to get away from.  Since I stopped writing "publicly" in my 20's, I promised myself that one day, when I retired, when I was wealthy, when everything else had been accomplished, I'd write again.  Write that novel that had been bouncing around in my head for years.  Write short stories, or longer ones.  Write for passion, for glory, for myself, for whoever wanted to read.

And sometime between 2009 and last April, the realization finally sank in,  What if I didn't make it to that hazy future of ink-stained fingers?  What if, worse than some illness (probably lung cancer, since I smoke a pack a day) that cut my life short, between here and then the inspiration evaporated?  What if, when I got there, there were no more words to say?

That was all I ever wanted, all I ever asked of Life.  I wanted to write.  Everything else was--well, for someone else.  I thought if I met everyone else's expectations, at some point I'd be left alone to do whatever I wanted.  But it doesn't work that way, does it?  One can only do so much for others.  I'm glad my breaking point came this year, that I didn't wait until there was no one around to demand--not verbally, mind you; everyone is really polite, most of the time, that I said fuck you, world, and decided to live the life I want.

I quit a job I loved.  Yeah, I did love that job.  And the paycheck that came with it.  But I turned my back on financial security--it wasn't worth it.  Yep, this Christmas was lean.  But it was happy.  And, for perhaps the first time in twenty years, maybe more, it was real.

Was I wrong, to make that decision?  I don't think so, although it's still early days.  Next month I'm off to my first writers' conference, to try and sell my first novel.  Expectations are high, very high--and I'm also realistic in that I understand this thing isn't a rags-to-riches kind of journey.  This takes time--effort, hard work, struggle, harsh reality checks.

But I have had a measure of success already.  Three stories of mine were published in 2011, and I finished one novel, started another one.  One day I hope to come back to this post and reminisce; here, Guilie, was where it began.

In July, a flash of mine, Mercury Charms, was awarded an honorable mention on Jason's Clarity of Night blog.

In August, Fiction365 published Come Back To Me, Elsie.  It was an amazing experience to see my name under the title of a story published for the world to see--the last time that happened was in 1994.

On Aug. 15th I finished the novel I'd started in May (5th, to be precise).  That one also started as a short story that grew, and grew, and grew some more.  Still working on polishing it.

In December, Fiction365 selected Mischievous Moonlight as their feature for the 16th, a longer piece this time, and one set here in Curacao, the island where I live.  This was a special story for many reasons, but mostly because it was a collaboration between Cor, my adorable and 100% angelic (yeah, I don't deserve the man, really) boyfriend, and myself.  I'm not sure anymore why; I needed inspiration for an IWW exercise, probably.  The point is, I asked Cor for help.  "Dushi (that's 'sweetie' in Papiamentu, the local language), I'm out of juice.  I need to write something for [insert random publication here], and I'm dry."  "Okay," he said, "what about something about Curacao?"  "Deadline's tomorrow.  No time for research."  "Well, what about that legend?  The one about the ghost, up in Banda Abou?"  I grinned.  "Brilliant."  I hammered the story out in a couple of hours and polished it.  The original publication didn't  accept it, but Fiction365 did.

The big bang came just a few days before the year ended.  A new literary magazine, Lady Ink, published a chapter from my novel, Restoring Experience.  This is a print-on-demand publication, so after seventeen years, I once again got to see my words in actual print.

~ -- ~

2011 was a hard year, of hard decisions.  But it was a good year.  I have everything I need, and my life is blessed.  2012, here I come.


  1. Wow!! Way to go girl!! Love the attitude!

  2. Thanks, Mish! Great to see you here :)

  3. I've had a few *years that change everything* myself. Usually the best ones have been when I've stopped dragging my feet and just thrown myself into what I WANT, instead of thinking too hard on what I SHOULD be doing ;)

    Hope 2012 is an even better year for you!

  4. Very inspiring, Guilie. Almost as inspiring as my mantra for 2012 which came from your previous blog post. "I am a writer, and I am done fucking around."

    Ever since I read it, that's been my last thought before falling asleep and my first thought upon waking.

    Here's to a great 2012!

  5. Congratulations. I mean it.
    So damned inspiring this is.

  6. this is a great, and intelligent, post. what insight you have into what matters.


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